Miner County Roots
who we are

The Rural Learning Center is on an extraordinary journey of learning and change in rural communities. We've built our organization around real progress, real people and real life. Here's our story.

Our journey began in Howard, a small prairie town in eastern South Dakota. In 1996, a group of Howard High School students took on a challenge that forever changed their hometown and the region surrounding it.

The catalyst for the students' efforts was the stark reality of a community dying around them: fewer faces, widespread poverty and a loss of hope. Through in-depth studies, the students and community realized that they were responsible for what had happened and what would happen in the future. No one else was to blame.

This humble beginning gave way to a remarkable transformation led by the people of Miner County. It is a study in the profound strength of people in rural communities; an example of what can happen when people work together to make a difference.

This grassroots movement led to the creation of Miner County Community Revitalization (MCCR), a non-profit organization that would guide Miner County forward.

In 2001, the work in Miner County was confirmed by the Northwest Area Foundation. After visiting Miner County, NWAF invested in Miner County's dreams. They awarded MCCR $5.8 million dollars over a ten year period to continue and expand the community's vision. Today, with the foundation's support, the work in Miner County is a nationally recognized model, described as "the most extraordinary rural development project in the nation." The results are truly remarkable: citizens are engaged, living wage jobs are plentiful and Main Street is bustling.

The success of MCCR has broadened beyond the borders of Miner County. MCCR is now called the "Rural Learning Center," an organization with a passion to ignite and lead a broader rural movement of deep change in small rural communities.

Learn a bit more about The Rural Learning Center: Remarkable Results (how we've reimagined rural so far), What we believe (our principles and values), Who we are (staff, board, friends and partners), What we do (strategies and services), or What we're working on now (our current projects).