Mission & Values

The Center for Rural Affairs' mission is to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities.


RESPONSIBILITY placed upon each of us to contribute to our community and society. 

CONSCIENCE that balances self-interest with an obligation to the common good and future generations. 

PROGRESS that strengthens rural communities, small businesses, and family farms and ranches. 

Genuine OPPORTUNITY for all to earn a living, raise a family, and prosper in a rural place. 

Citizen INVOLVEMENT and ACTION to shape the future. 

Widespread OWNERSHIP and CONTROL of small businesses, farms, and ranches by those who work them.

FAIRNESS that allows all who contribute to the nation's prosperity to share in it.

STEWARDSHIP of the natural environment upon which all of us – current and future generations – rely. 

We live in an era of profound change - when institutions, policy, and life are being fundamentally reshaped. It is a critical time for people of conscience to work together in guiding change to reflect our highest values. To that we commit the Center for Rural Affairs.

Values. Worth. Action.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Principles

The Center for Rural Affairs recognizes the impact of racism and inequities on rural communities. We commit to the following principles and a future where diversity, equity, and inclusion drive our work. We recognize these principles are only the first step in this journey. 

We acknowledge and commit to addressing the legacy of inequality and hate sown by those who try to divide us. We join together across differences to achieve equity within our organization, our communities and throughout our work.

To support community-driven development, we prioritize community input, acknowledge the histories of underrepresented social groups, value their insights, and strive to be a reliable partner. We work with community members and partners to achieve shared goals, amplify their voices, and support their leadership.

We commit to advancing conversations on equity, inclusion, and diversity. Fulfilling the Center’s mission requires stakeholder input, transparency, and responsiveness.

We strive to be an accessible organization. To achieve this, we use easily understood, inclusive, equitable, and intentional language. This includes using community-appropriate languages, gender-neutral writing, and accommodating the needs of people with disabilities.

We seek to recruit board and staff who are a part of the communities we serve and reflect the diverse demographics of rural America. We work toward creating equitable and transparent hiring and advancement.

Our fundraising efforts embody our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our communications to donors and grantors reflect the diversity of rural populations.

We monitor and evaluate all levels of our organization to hold ourselves accountable to these principles. We own our mistakes, repair them, and learn from them with humility.


We breathed fire and ran on unrefined youthful energy. It was 1973.

We knew that if we wanted federal policy to work for rural Americans, we had to raise our voice. So, we opened shop in an old storefront in rural Nebraska and put nose-to-grindstone. We grew a rural grassroots community. We spoke up about corporate wrongs against family farmers. We took rural voices to Washington.

We believed we would succeed. It was hard work, but our passion kept us standing strong for rural Americans.

Click here to find out more about our history.

Feature photo: Children show off crafts created after attending a story hour provided in both English and Spanish, presented by the Center for Rural Affairs.