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Our Strategy

Centered on rural people and places

We have spent more than 25 years learning alongside our rural neighbors and partners about what works in our region. The relationships we have developed over time guide us in everything we do.

We invest in people – through scholarships, training and leadership development. We make grants to organizations in hopes of strengthening social and economic supports for children and families. We undertake community building to help rural residents build the futures they want to see and create vibrant places everyone is proud to call home.

We know the larger context matters too, especially in our region, where most of the population is concentrated in a handful of cities but most of the geography is vast and sparsely populated. We work to ensure that statewide policies and systems operate effectively to support children, families and communities. We proudly embrace our role as a rural advocate, encouraging statewide attention to rural people and places.

Rural people places

Our desired impact

In 2022, we adopted a 10-year strategic plan dedicated to ensuring that rural children have the family, educational and community supports they need to succeed in life. In the process of creating the plan, we reaffirmed and refined our vision and direction as an embedded rural funder.
Rural advocate committed to youth

Committed to rural youth and their families

Over the years, we have seen how young people who grow up in rural communities simply do not have the same access to resources and opportunities as their peers raised in bigger towns — whether it is school facilities and class offerings, libraries and internet availability or exposure to college and career paths. We want to change that by making sure that systems and policies work for — not against — them.

Weaving our work

We believe the only way our foundation can impact some of the biggest challenges rural young people face is by working together, connecting our programs and approaches.

The lack of affordable child care, for example, is an issue that affects everyone in our region — from businesses struggling to attract and retain employees, to parents who are working or studying, to children who need quality education in their earliest years. Without it, rural children miss out on a strong start in life. That’s why we leverage expertise across our four program departments to address child care availability and quality from different angles. We call it “weaving our work.”

This strategy, coupled with data, targeted research and the wisdom of the rural communities we serve, propels our vision for brighter futures for rural children and youth.

Our four program departments are:

  • Children, Youth and Families
  • Community Economic Development
  • Postsecondary Success
  • Rural Community Building
Rural Advocate Ford Family Staff
High-quality data Oregon

High-quality data

The Ford Family Foundation has prioritized access to high-quality rural data from the outset. With trusted information as a basis for decision making and strategy development, we aim to influence the systems that affect people’s lives so that they work better for everyone.

Right now, most state policies are designed primarily with urban residents in mind. Our strategies and investments work to shift that dynamic, centering the lived experiences of people who call rural Oregon and Siskiyou County, California, home. We also work to put data in the hands of rural residents so they have the information they need to plan their community’s future.

Impact areas

Learn more about our impact areas, which reflect the priorities of our founders as well as the rural communities we serve.

Family

Family

Providing children with a nurturing, safe and stable foundation for life.

    Family

    Education

    Education

    Helping young people attain educational success.

      Education

      Community

      Community

      Creating vibrant places that provide opportunities for everyone to prosper.

        Community