Partners for Rural Transformation (the Partners) envision a country where persistent poverty no longer exists.


The Partners work collaboratively across geographies and cultures to collectively influence policy and simultaneously lead, advocate, innovate, and finance individual and community solutions to poverty so that our neighbors can build sustainable and promising futures.

Our dedication to the places we call home is unmatched.

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The Partners have over 200 years of collective experience focused on high and persistent poverty regions. Our reach extends to the most forgotten or ignored corners of America, and our dedication to these places is unmatched. Members of the steering committee are governed by the people and regions we serve, requiring a solidarity of purpose, and making our assets a powerful part of the wealth creation to these same communities.

Together, we have records of accomplishment spanning decades. In the last 10 years alone, we have deployed over $2 billion reaching millions of people who reside in persistent poverty communities. With a shared ethos of investing in both people and places and informed by the voices of local people, we seek to unify around opportunities in diverse communities at a time of great division in our nation.

Partners for Rural Transformation

Steering Committee

Partners for Rural Transformation is led by a steering committee made up of six CDFIs that serve three-quarters of the country’s persistent poverty counties.

With headquarters in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, Native American communities, the Deep South, the Rio Grande Valley and regions in the Rural West, our steering committee has a unique lens on the range of challenges these communities face and deep connections with diverse local leaders who are dedicated to creating change.


The steering committee is guided by leaders from the six CDFIs — bringing over two decades of combined experience in community development and economic justice.


Our PRT Staff drives the Partners for Rural Transformation. Through supporting the Steering Committee, leading our Working Groups, and managing day-to-day operations, our Staff brings the mission to life.

Sara Ball

Acting Director, PRT

Emily Burleson

Senior Manager | Advocacy & Research

Essence Smith

Senior Manager | Communications & Partnerships


The Partners for Rural Transformation is made up of 15 organizations, including the steering committee, that are committed to serving rural communities in persistent poverty across the nation.


We are thankful to our funders for their support.