ResourcefulCommunities

People, Places, Opportunities


Our Approach

A specialized program of The Conservation Fund, Resourceful Communities supports a network of community groups, faith-based organizations, small towns and resource providers.  The triple bottom line is the foundation of our work:  environmental stewardship, social justice and sustainable economic development.  Rather than addressing community challenges as isolated issues, this integrated approach nets sustainable, comprehensive improvements.

Our work is built on values and practices that uplift our partners.  Our triple bottom line mission grounds our work in helping communities build on their greatest resources:  natural, cultural and human assets. 

We help communities implement the triple bottom line through three primary strategies:

Strengthening Organizations:  Capacity Building

Resourceful Communities typically works in economically- and socially-distressed places.  Our capacity building efforts are designed to meet the needs of limited-resource organizations and takes many forms:  workshops, individual trainings, and coaching.   All support is provided at no-cost and builds the capacity of the organizations to deliver more effective community programming.

Resourceful Communities offers a variety of training opportunities to strengthen community skills.  Capacity building ranges from individualized technical assistance, which aims to improve organizational practices, to workshops that provide skill building opportunities on a range of topics presented by experts and peer educators.  Technical assistance and training is designed with partner input and is offered free-of-charge to facilitate participation.  Topics might include board development, fundraising and equitable partnerships and community engagement strategies.

Investing in Communities:  Small Grants

Through our small grant program, the Creating New Economies Fund (CNEF), we invest in innovative triple bottom line projects.  Grants average $8,000-$12,000, with a maximum award of $15,000.  The grants are as unique as the organizations we support, but all funded projects reflect the needs and visions of the communities.  Funding has supported a variety of projects, including:  eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, youth leadership development, alternative energy, and more.

Since CNEF began in 2001, Resourceful Communities has awarded more than $3.1 million in grants, and thanks to this investment, grantees have secured an average additional $12 for every $1 of grant support.  Funded projects include development of food distribution centers, green job training programs, paddle trails and more.  Our combination of training, funding and connections to additional resources strengthens community-led efforts and results in broad community benefits.

Grant applicants receive training in general grant writing as well as effective project planning strategies.  Resourceful Communities continues to provide support to strengthen community projects through improved project design (timeline, budget, evaluation plan, etc.), community engagement and sustainability through connection to additional resources.

We thank our supporters, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Oak Foundation, USDA Rural Community Development Initiative, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Overhills Foundation and private donors.  If you are a current applicant or grantee, please visit our Tools and Forms section to download grant materials, or contact us at kmarks@conservationfund.org.  To see a complete list of grantees, click here.

Nurturing Our Network

Resourceful Communities started and continues to support a growing network of grassroots partners and resource organizations (organizations and agencies that provide resources such as training, funding, technical assistance and expertise). We actively provide network opportunities that result in:  reduced isolation, shared lessons learned, new partnerships and collaborations, replication of successful models, and new resources for grassroots organizations.  Our network connects people across age, race, economic status and geography and help build a movement that advocates for the triple bottom line.

We support our network through:
  • Annual convenings where participants connect with each other and resources and learn about broad trends that affect their communities;
  • Peer learning visits provide opportunities to learn about specific topics and replicate effective strategies by visiting successful projects and engaging with community practitioners;
  • Facilitated connections that provide opportunities for frequently excluded communities to access resources and begin building equitable partnerships.