Integrated Rural Strategies Group and The Heartland Fund logos

Neighborhood Funders Group’s Integrated Rural Strategies Group and The Heartland Fund invite you to join this three-part series, Meeting the Moment: 2020’s New Civic Engagement Landscape in Rural and Small-City America.

The 2020 elections are set to be the most important, volatile, and unpredictable in recent history. In addition to creating a health crisis with devastating impacts in rural communities of color, the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the economy, exacerbated cultural and political divisions, and created a new set of existential challenges to democracy and our electoral system across the nation. At the same time, catalyzed by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery (and so many others), movements fighting white supremacy and systemic violence against Black people have opened up extraordinary opportunities for structural change. We know that the next steps forward require statewide power and that rural and small-city communities will have an important part to play. Philanthropy must step up to support those on the frontlines fighting for equitable, sustainable, and resilient futures across racial, cultural, and geographic divides.

Join IRSG and the Heartland Fund for this three-part webinar series to discuss the emerging challenges and opportunities for civic engagement in rural and small-city communities in 2020, share what we're learning about how new narratives and organizing approaches are landing, and hear from field leaders about how they are innovating during this time of extraordinary crisis and opportunity.

The first webinar (July 28) shared an overview of how COVID 19 and a new racial justice environment has altered the landscape for rural organizations and how they are adapting. The second webinar (September 22) highlighted some of the most important fights and campaigns in rural communities as the election approaches. The third webinar (November 18) briefed funders on the implications of the election outcomes for rural and small-town communities and the issues we collectively care about. See below for more information and speaker lists.

Whether your organization has many investments in rural communities or you are still puzzling out what the term “rural” really means, we invite you to join this dynamic webinar series and explore opportunities to learn from, lift up, and support innovative and power building work in rural and small-town communities across the country.

Who is this webinar series for? If you are a foundation leader (staff or board member) currently funding, or interested in exploring the work in rural communities and small-towns, you are encouraged to attend. We also welcome funders concerned with civic participation, democracy, climate change, and racial justice.

Please direct questions to Lindsay Ryder, Senior Program Manager of the Integrated Rural Strategies Group, at


About the Integrated Rural Strategies Group:

Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) established the Integrated Rural Strategies Group (IRSG) to support and grow rural organizing, further the work of creating deep democracy in rural areas, and facilitate a transition to working economies that are ecologically resilient and sustainable. IRSG leverages shared resources to increase long-term support for organizing and power-building work in rural areas, focusing on deep investments in infrastructure and capacity. Alongside other educational products, IRSG commissioned and released Voices from the Field: Rural Organizers on What They Need From Funders. This scan lifts up voices of organizers on the ground and identifies priorities for the organizing work already taking place. It also further defines the Integrated Rural Strategies Group's role and intended impact on the landscape of rural organizing. Learn more about IRSG.


About The Heartland Fund:

The Heartland Fund connects rural leaders and funders to build permanent civic engagement, organizing and communications infrastructure in rural areas, small cities, and towns. We challenge stereotypes about rural voters, and elevate investments in rural communities of color and anti-racist organizing. Ben Goldfarb’s All the People, All the Places report shows that 19 percent of rural residents are people of color – a rate that’s rapidly accelerating. We make grants and convene donors and field leaders as partners so they are able to build trust and leverage opportunities through shared learning experiences. We also produce research, analyze public opinion, and distribute culturally appropriate communications content. We seek to change the narrative about what is socially and economically possible in rural parts of our country, and overcome the false dichotomy of the so-called urban-rural divide by connecting rural leaders with their counterparts in larger cities. Learn more about The Heartland Fund.



Part 3: Pivoting Forward — November 18, 2020

Post-election deep dive on what happened in rural and small-city America, what we learned, and how we’re building momentum for multiracial, multi-geography movements for change heading into 2021.

Pivoting Forward will feature leaders of organizations working in Deep South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and nationally to share about their rural community power-building work throughout the election cycle, and help funders explore what's next as we build toward what's possible post-election.

The outcomes of this webinar are to:

  1. Reflect on what issues mattered to rural voters, and what that means for organizing rural communities toward racial, economic, and climate justice;
  2. Explore how groups built power among rural communities — including organizing people of color in rural communities and building bridges across race — during their electoral organizing work; and
  3. Strategize on how philanthropy can help sustain and grow this power post-election so that rural communities are resourced at scale to shape our path forward.



Part 2: The Homestretch — September 22, 2020

Real-time insights into emerging organizing, advocacy, and voter engagement campaigns in rural and small-city America, with an emphasis on cutting-edge, race-forward work and efforts to bridge the urban/suburban/rural divide.



Part 1: Shifting Ground — July 28, 2020

How the COVID-19 pandemic and uprisings for racial justice are shaping the 2020 civic engagement landscape in rural and small-city America — and how leading practitioners are rising to the occasion. If you would like to view the recording of this webinar, please contact Kita Urias at


  • Domenico RomeroDomenico Romero, Program Officer, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock (moderator)

    Domenico Romero is currently a program officer at the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.  Romero has over twenty years of experience supporting movements for social justice in Mexico and the United States, with an emphasis on increasing the quality and breadth of people’s participation in the political and economic arenas. He holds a PhD in political science from the CUNY Graduate Center and the focus of his research are social movements, participatory democracy, and participatory economics.  Prior to joining Veatch he worked as a consultant doing research, policy analysis, and political education on projects that support grassroots movements, and also taught political science at Queens College, CUNY. Before this, he coordinated leadership building, campaign development, and electoral organizing in various organizations supporting low-income and immigrant communities, such as Neighbor to Neighbor MA, the Long Island Civic Participation Project, the Organizing Support Center, and the Latino Workers’ Center in the U.S., and also worked with organizations fighting for democratization, human rights, and economic justice in Mexico.


  • Anat Shenker-OsorioAnat Shenker-Osorio, Founder, ASO Communications

    Host of the Words to Win By podcast and Principal of ASO Communications, Anat Shenker-Osorio examines why certain messages falter where others deliver. She has led research for new messaging on issues ranging from freedom to join together in union to clean energy and from immigrant rights to reforming criminal justice. Anat's original approach through priming experiments, task-based testing and online dial surveys has led to progressive electoral and policy victories across the globe.

    Anat delivers her findings packed in snark at venues such as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Centre for Australian Progress, Irish Migrant Centre, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation and LUSH International.

    Her writing and research is profiled in The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Salon, The Guardian and Grist among others. She is the author of Don't Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.


  • Matt HildrethMatt Hildreth, Executive Director,

    Matt Hildreth grew up on a small farm in eastern South Dakota and is a graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota where he studied Philosophy and Communications. He earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication from the University of Iowa and holds an Executive Education Certificate from Harvard University’s Leadership, Organizing and Action program.

    For nearly a decade, Matt's work focused on leveraging digital technologies to motivate key constituencies toward greater civic engagement on issues relating to migration and social cohesion. He served as the Digital Director, Political Director, and Director of New Initiatives at America’s Voice where he led a team dedicated to fighting white nationalism and white supremacy online, offline, and in politics.

    Prior to his time at America’s Voice, Hildreth spent three years as the Interactive Media Producer for Sojourners — the largest network of progressive Christians in America — where he successfully developed innovative techniques for engaging online constituents.


  • Tamieka AtkinsTamieka Atkins, Executive Director, ProGeorgia

    Tamieka Atkins is the executive director of ProGeorgia, Georgia’s state based non-partisan voter engagement advocacy organization, and a member of the State Voices National Network of Tables.

    ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. In her role as Executive Director Tamieka coordinates the voter registration and civic engagement plans of 35 partner organizations, and through the Table provides infrastructure and capacity building to support organizations’ ability to grow the scale of their voter registration and civic engagement programs.

    Prior to working at ProGeorgia, Tamieka was the Founding Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance - Atlanta Chapter, where she developed a base of African American domestic workers advocating for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for all domestic workers. Over the course of four years, Tamieka organized domestic workers to fight for the expansion of Medicaid, and used a gender and race lens to increase black women’s civic engagement and their participation in the Chapter. Before that, Tamieka worked at Amnesty International USA for six years serving as their Board Liaison, and played an integral role in developing the organization’s 2011 Strategic Plan.

    Tamieka previously served on the Board of the Highlander Research and Education Center, and on the Board of Atlanta Jobs with Justice. She is a former Board member of the Annie E Casey’s Community Investment Fund. Tamieka served as a member of the Host Committee for the 2016 Facing Race Conference. She has a Bachelor's in Multicultural Literature from Hunter College and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from NYU. While at Hunter, Tamieka organized college and high school student walkouts against police brutality and the Iraq war as a member of the political organization SLAM (Student Liberation Action Movement) between 2000 and 2004. Tamieka is also a graduate of the BOLD program (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity). Tamieka lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her two daughters.


  • Iliana SantillanIliana Santillan, People Power Director, Poder NC 

Iliana Santillan is the People Power Director at Poder NC Action, she has been an immigrant rights activist in North Carolina for 16 years. She started her career as an ESL teacher in Sanford, NC. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Meredith College in Education K-12 ESL/Spanish, and a Master’s Degree in Family Life and Youth Development from NCSU. She loves working with youth and is passionate about working with the rural community.

Event Details


Nov 18, 2020

9:00 am - 10:15 am