Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

A new project is set to test the notion that regional cooperation could prove to be effective at improving social and economic opportunities, as well as health. Specifically, researchers are looking for examples of policies and practices to foster border-crossing, cross-sector solutions to regional challenges that benefit rural areas, lower-income individuals, and people of color. This report describes the basic steps toward building healthier communities–rural, urban, and everywhere in between–along with a few concrete policies and programs that could enhance health. Obstetric services and quality in critical access, rural, and urban hospitals across nine states, a 2013 policy brief by the University of Minnesotas Rural Health Research Center, reports on findings from a study evaluating childbirth-related care quality across a variety of hospital settings.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

While changes in marriage and birth are occurring nationally, they are playing out slightly differently in cities, suburbs, and rural counties, according to a new analysis by Pew Research Center of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Among Blacks, those living in suburban areas are slightly more likely to be married (32%), than those living in rural (27%), or urban (26%), areas. Some of this variation is due to differences in demography across the three types of communities: urban areas, for example, have higher shares of black residents, while rural areas have higher shares of older adults. Adults in rural areas are less educated, on average, than people living in the other type of communities (19% of them have a bachelors degree or more, compared to at least 30% of people living in urban or suburban areas).

James 2:26 – For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

While improvement continues in urban counties, the overall rates of early mortality are getting worse in rural counties. The challenges that rural residents face accessing healthcare services contribute to the disparities in health outcomes. Local rural healthcare systems are vulnerable; when one facility closes, or one provider leaves, this affects care and access throughout a community.

Many organizations are working to address rural communities needs and to help ensure that basic health services are available. The community health worker (CHW) model promotes health care access, using the CHW to act as the link between health care providers and rural residents, helping ensure that their health care needs are met.

Hebrews 13:16 – But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Team-based care models, such as patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs), also have the potential to expand access to primary care services within rural communities. Rural-to-urban linkages may benefit lower-income families and longtime residents in rural areas, as well as supporting the upward economic mobility of young people from lower-income backgrounds. Evidence supports a positive role for small cities and micropolitan areas in forging rural-urban connections.

Suburbs serve as a bridge between rural and urban places; exurbs combine the values, culture, and landscapes of urban and rural areas. New ways to describe areas where urban and rural intersect and blend are emerging. Rural economic development strategies favour greater integration with urban economies for rural places that are within driving distance; while, for more distant places, they foster local, asset-based economic and business development.

Economic Development Administration Another key mechanism of location-based investments is the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA), an agency within the United States Department of Commerce with a mission of promoting locally appropriate innovations and entrepreneurship in order to help communities compete in a global economy.72 Conceived in 1965, EDA was created to help both rural and urban communities lagging in U.S. economic growth. To provide the technical assistance needed by the grant-seeking entities, and help create strategic development plans that cross district lines into coordination, existing regional councils–such as the EDA–would maintain relative autonomy, but be formally absorbed into the ROA framework, with the aim of providing more coherent funding for rural communities, while simultaneously drawing on existing structures for connecting local stakeholders with federal officials.

James 2:18 – Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

The program makes up the lions share of the guarantees and direct loans issued by Rural Development, and houses the Community Facilities Program, which provides grants and loans for building or maintaining critical facilities, such as health clinics. To help solve access problems for rural veterans, the VA) has established community-based walk-in clinics in many rural areas, in addition to using mobile clinics and telehealth services. Despite growing needs, a distinct shortage of substance abuse services is offered in many rural communities throughout the U.S.

Building Resilient Communities Through Mass Investment A significant reimagining of federal investments in rural America is long overdue. Any institution hoping to reach the rural students in their district will have to leverage their own personnel resources to help create face-to-face connections and affinity for the brand. Designated representatives that handle communications repeatedly with rural partners contribute to building a community of trust, making the whole institution appear more accessible. Colleges and universities around the country have both mission-driven and commercial reasons for pushing toward increasingly diverse student populations–and one constituency that is interested is rural students.

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

These can include concerts and performances, research benefiting communities themselves, sports scrims, or any number of other activities happening on campus you would like to share with those communities.