This brief tells how data shaped and strengthened efforts to build financial stability among low-income rural families in west central Minnesota. It highlights Annie E. Casey’s Rural Family Economic Success framework and is part of the Foundation’s Strengthening Rural Families publication series.
The Rural Family Economic Success framework yields big changes in small town Minnesota
Findings & Stats
A Three-Part Approach
The Rural Family Economic Success framework has three parts: 1) Earn It, focused on training and jobs; 2) Keep It, devoted to building support services and financial skills; and 3) Grow It, which emphasizes economic development.
West Central Initiative (WCI) found that 3,700 families — 26% of eligible residents — didn’t claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Total community loss? A cool $5.5 million.
Driven by compelling data, WCI quickly advanced the framework’s “keep it” component. The game plan: Expand free tax assistance programs to help more working poor families claim the EITC.
Northern Connections — a nonprofit created to help low-income people connect to jobs, stay employed and build assets — grew from data showing that residents were struggling with financial independence.
One idea for utilizing data to best serve rural families: Find a good communicator who can help audiences understand the numbers.
Statements & Quotations
Good data can help generate interest in a problem, point to possible solutions, and track progress.
Data helped pave the way to common understanding, leading beyond individual perception and anecdotal evidence.