RPRP CommunityForum Training

W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation
Stakeholder Summit
Denver, CO
May 2009

Building the Capacity of Rural Networks Across the Nation

Twenty-two members of the Rural People Rural Policy (RPRP) initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gathered in Denver, Colorado for the first-ever AmericaSpeaks CommunityForum Training. The RPRP CommunityForum Training was designed to help improve the lives of those living in rural communities across the nation.  Over three-days participants learned how to conduct a meeting in their own communities, on important policy issues like clean water, internet access, affordable housing and education. The CommunityForum is a 100-person version of AmericaSpeaks’ 21st Century Town Meeting®.

Participants from six RPRP networks learned from five seasoned AmericaSpeaks staff and then worked to designing their own CommunityForums. Equipped with a binder full of rich materials instructing organizers on how to do everything from select the topic to recruit the participants, they were able to see that deliberative democracy can be successfully conducted at the local level. The majority of participants rated the overall program as excellent. One participant reported that after this forum they would be able to hold their meetings “in a more organized, cost-effective, and useful manner, yielding a better potential for long-term impact.”

Participants left the training energized and with the necessary knowledge and tools to hold their own meetings. Both the participants and the presenters learned from this experience. As a follow-up, AmericaSpeaks will coach each network with 8 days of technical assistance in the delivery of their first CommunityForum.


AmericaSpeaks developed a new model for building capacity with this meeting. The WW Kellogg Foundation’s Rural People Rural Policy program sent 22 representatives to the CommunityForum training so they could gain skills to conduct a forum locally. Five CommunityForums were conducted in 2009-2010 with minimal guidance from AmericaSpeaks.