Appalachian Rural Development Philanthropy Initiative (ARDPI)
According to the Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative’s groundbreaking 2010 Transfer of Wealth study, a reinvestment of just 5 percent of the $707 billion set to transfer from Kentuckians to the next generation over the next 50 years could have a significant, long-lasting impact on economic development and quality of life.
The new Appalachian Rural Development Philanthropy Initiative (ARDPI) aims to push toward that goal by building and expanding permanent charitable endowments in partnership with Eastern Kentucky communities that will work to stop the outmigration of the region’s wealth and secure local assets to provide long-term resources for their communities.
The ARDPI partnership is powered by a collaborative of organizations that will help expand and organize philanthropic infrastructure in an initial group of eight pilot counties—Elliot, Magoffin, Knott, Letcher, Clay, Knox, Bell and Whitley—and will grow to include additional counties in year two. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is devoting $1 million in grants to launch and power the initiative over the next two years.
The ARC is working with seven Kentucky-based partners to move the initiative forward, including: The Center for Rural Development, Brushy Fork Institute, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, the Foundation for the Tri-State Community, Inc., Blue Grass Community Foundation, Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative, and the Endow Kentucky Commission. Two of the partners—The Center in Somerset and Brushy Fork Institute in Berea—will provide overall strategic planning, training, education and promotion for the initiative.
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The community foundations’ role will be to “work in the counties to develop local leadership and advisory boards, build endowments, set up communications plans and nurture the partnerships that will make this work,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a Nov. 7, 2011 funding announcement held at The Center in Somerset.
In February, ARDPI will launch a series of ongoing small-group meetings in the participating counties to engage local leaders, professional advisors, and other interested individuals in determining a philanthropic strategy that best suits the needs of their particular region.
Joining Beshear in the Nov. 7 announcement were ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl, Commissioner Tony Wilder of the Kentucky Department for Local Government, Center President and CEO Lonnie Lawson and other ARDPI partners, and Chris Girdler, deputy district director for U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05).
The initiative will also advance the goals of Endow Kentucky, a program established by the 2010 General Assembly to enhance the quality of life for Kentuckians through tax credits for increased philanthropic activity.
“Establishing sustainable philanthropic organizations throughout Appalachia will enable communities to grow endowments that will benefit local residents,” Gov. Beshear said. “Permanent community foundations also allow residents to know their contributions will go toward providing support and growth close to home, boosting overall community development.”
The Transfer of Wealth study estimated that a sizeable amount of private assets will shift out of Eastern Kentucky communities within the next generation due to the outmigration of youth experienced by the region. ARDPI seeks to capture some of those assets through philanthropic endowments before they are transferred out of Appalachian communities.
ARDPI’s program work will include regional planning, training for communities, develop¬ment of an on-the-ground consultant program, and the use of mini-grants to assist communities in planning for securing and leveraging local resources.
“The people of Southern and Eastern Kentucky have an innate philanthropic spirit, always willing to help a neighbor,” said Congressman Rogers. “This initiative will help us communicate across county boundaries, connecting passionate givers with organizations and projects that share common goals to improve our region.”
“This initiative has at its core a strong public/private partnership, which is fundamental to the project’s future success”, added Department for Local Government Commissioner Tony Wilder. “Thanks to Governor Beshear, Congressman Rogers, ARC, and all our committed partners in these distressed communities, there will now be a philanthropic infrastructure established that will direct local resources to meet community needs for generations to come.”
ARC partners with federal, state and local governments in an effort to support sustainable community and economic growth throughout Appalachia by funding projects that range from education and job training to housing and business expansion to transportation and infrastructure development.
The funding announcement was followed one week later with a day-long workshop Nov. 14 at The Center featuring nearly 130 community leaders from 35 current and potential ARDPI counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Counties participating in ARDPI must fit the ARC’s classification as a “distressed” county.
The workshop was led by Janet Topolsky and John Molinaro, co-directors of The Aspen Community Strategies Group in Washington, D.C.