The Friday Institute Partners with The Rural Center to Build Community Capacity and Regional Leadership in North Carolina’s Northeast Prosperity Zone

Raleigh, NC – Through a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is partnering with The Rural Center to help North Carolina’s Northeast Prosperity Zone broaden its leadership base, enhance community and regional collaborations, and develop more strategic initiatives to transform the economy.

The Friday Institute will provide program evaluation, leadership training, and project team capacity building and coaching. The Rural Center will support leadership and project teams to identify opportunities and unmet needs through a gap analysis that will engage a diverse cohort of county and regional stakeholders from the public, nonprofit, and business sectors.

“The Friday Institute’s research and evaluation team is so excited about the opportunity to partner with The Rural Center–a true North Carolina institution– and the counties in the Northeast,” says Dr. Jeni Corn, Director of Evaluation Programs at The Friday Institute. “Through this new project, we can help our rural communities build the capacity to address their most critical local issues by leveraging cross-sector assets.”

The initiative will build a diverse regional leadership team in the state’s Northeast Prosperity Zone and provide coaching to cross-county project teams to identify untapped regional opportunities for economic growth and development.

The results of the work will enable the region to better compete for other national, state, and private resources, including strengthening the quality and reach of grant proposals for Golden LEAF’s anticipated 2018-19 Community Based Grant Initiative (CBGI) in the Northeast Prosperity Zone.

“Local governments are experiencing a great shift in the business of community engagement and development, in which local leaders are expected to effectively collect data and use that information to guide organizational decisions,” says Corn. “Rural leaders at every level need a variety of support to navigate this shift, strengthening their capacity to use evaluation practices to critically examine current and future initiatives.”

The Rural Center coaches will identify the core team of regional leaders that will participate in leadership training events starting in early 2018. Then they will work with the core leadership team to identify 18-20 smaller cross-county teams that will develop high-quality CBGI proposals.

Counties in the Northeast Prosperity Zone include:

The Friday Institute advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership. Bringing together educational professionals, researchers, policy-makers, and other community members, The Friday Institute is a center for fostering collaborations to improve education. They conduct research, develop educational resources, provide professional development programs for educators, advocate to improve teaching and learning, and help inform policy-making. Visit to learn more.

For 30 years, the NC Rural Center has worked to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Center serves the state’s 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The Foundation receives a portion of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,526 grants worth over $766 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call 888-684-8404.