These three Workforce System Strategies resources highlight efforts to overcome the challenges and barriers that rural communities face. The first resource discusses access to services, and the following two spotlight K-12 and adult education. These featured programs use grant funding and leverage existing community strengths and stakeholders as resources to implement services, build partnerships and catalyze communities. Learn more about how to improve workforce services in rural communities.

Implementing Healthcare Career Pathway Training Programs in Rural Settings
This brief discusses the challenges that Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) 2.0 grantees face in rural communities and how they leverage their assets to overcome them. The barriers faced include geographic isolation, the need to travel long distances for services, and limited employment and education opportunities. To overcome the barriers, the authors found that grantees leverage partnerships with higher education institutions and adult education centers, provide financial assistance for individuals to travel to training programs and certification exams, utilize distance education, establish a variety of communication methods for case management, and use co-located program staff to make access to training and services easier.

Highlighting How a Partnership Network Can Serve Rural Communities
This case study highlights the efforts by Partners for Education (PFE) at Berea College to improve education outcomes in the Appalachian region. PFE focused on the Knox County Promise Neighborhood and used fiscal mapping to help stakeholders coordinate and maximize funds to advance the main goals of the network of communities. Fiscal mapping in Knox County revealed a significant investment in college and career preparation. Conversely, relatively limited resources were invested in youth development and enrichment programs outside the regular school day for children and youth ages 5-16. Stakeholders noted an opportunity to better coordinate and pool funds to maximize private and philanthropic investment. Now that the partnership has piloted localized fiscal mapping, it intends to apply lessons learned to future fiscal mapping efforts in other counties to identify and leverage additional funds in the region beyond large federal grants.

Catalyzing the Community through the Appalachia Partnership Initiative's Investments in K–12
This implementation brief, published in 2019, analyzes the Appalachia Partnership Initiative’s (API) investments in K-12 STEM education, energy and advanced manufacturing workforce development, and community building. The partnership focuses on K-12 students and adult workers. The study used quantitative indicators, such as the number of participants by race and gender, and interviews with API administrators to assess strategic alignment, beneficiaries of the programs, fidelity of implementation, and the steps API leadership took to engage community stakeholders. The study found that the API STEM education programs were strategically aligned with the API logic model, which describes the inputs, outputs, and intended outcomes.