Rural Digital Advocacy Grants

Rural Digital Advocacy grants

The Rural Digital Advocacy Grants Program selection committee has awarded a total of $60,000 in funding to six projects that employ digital tools to advance rural advocacy and policy change.

The grants selection committee carefully reviewed more than two dozen applications, ultimately awarding funding to those that best represented innovative, collaborative projects that seek to improve the lives of people living in rural communities through policy change.

In addition to the panel process, one project was selected in a public vote to receive funding. More than 1,600 votes were cast in the online poll. The winning project was the Rural Arts and Culture Map (described below).

This grant is part of an initiative that is building a national network of rural advocates who share knowledge, strategically focus resources, and access a wider group of stakeholders to shape public policy in ways that improve rural America.

Click here to learn more about the Rural Policy Networks, the Rural Assembly, and this grant program.

Selection panel


Karl Stauber

President & CEO, Danville (VA) Regional Foundation

Karl Stauber is President & CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation (DRF), a five year old health conversation foundation based in Danville, VA. Prior to joining DRF in 2007, Stauber served as the head of the Northwest Area Foundation in Minnesota for 11 years. He also was Under Secretary for Research, Economics and Education at USDA and served in leadership roles with a venture capital firm in Colorado, the Needmor Fund in Ohio, and the Babcock Foundation in North Carolina. He has written and spoken extensively on rural development and philanthropy.


Joy Vermillion Heinsohn

Director for Programs, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Joy Vermillion Heinsohn serves as the Director for Programs at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. She is responsible for the Foundation’s work in its Strengthening Democracy focus area and works on special projects across the Foundation’s five focus areas. She has served on the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors of Wake Forest University, the Board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, and was a founding member of the boards of the NC Network of Grantmakers, NC Center for Afterschool Programs, and NC Civic Education Consortium.


Cynthia Gibson

Principal, Cynthesis Consulting

As Principal of Cynthesis Consulting, Gibson has 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector and provides a wide range of services including strategic planning and positioning, program development, evaluation, marketing/communications, and public policy research and analysis for nonprofits and foundations across the country. In 2007 for the Case Foundation, Gibson authored Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement. Previously, she served as a program officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York in the area of Strengthening U.S. Democracy and in 2003, was named one of the Nonprofit Times’ “Top 50 Power and Influence” in the nonprofit sector. Prior to coming to Carnegie, Gibson served as a consultant for numerous organizations. Among them, the Rockefeller Foundation, Open Society Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Planned Parenthood of New York City, Citizens Committee for Children, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Center for Policy Alternatives.