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Initiative aims to incorporate youth into future of rural US

A new initiative aims to empower young people to use stories and digital technologies to learn about the future of rural America, document local history and foster important discussions about their community’s future, leading to opportunities for local youth to become storytellers on behalf of their community.

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership’s Rural Homecoming program has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program for the “Coming Home: Stories from Main Street” initiative.

Rural communities can participate in Coming Home in two ways. Communities can celebrate RCAP’s Rural Homecoming to reconnect with their hometown by downloading a free toolkit providing communications and social media toolkits and event ideas to help tell stories driven by their local communities.

Communities also can participate in Coming Home by applying to be a Coming Home community through the Museum on Main Street program. Through the competitive process, communities which are selected will work with young people in their community to create video projects focused on telling the community’s stories, past, present and future.

“This partnership between RCAP and the Smithsonian is a special partnership, one grounded in the belief that young people in rural communities are change-makers who are poised to lead their communities,” RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle said. “Coming Home: Stories from Main Street will give students the tools necessary to become storytellers, to highlight the innovation that makes their community special and enable them to become leaders now and in the future.”

For more than 45 years, RCAP has worked with tens of thousands of rural and tribal communities building capacity at the local level and bringing awareness to the innovation and collaboration happening across rural America. The Rural Homecoming program is a free resource for communities that uses activities to reconnect people with their rural hometowns and tell their stories.

To apply to be a Coming Home community or to download the toolkit, please visit museumonmainstreet.org/cominghome. Questions can be directed to Museum on Main Street at moms@si.edu.

RCAP is a national nonprofit network providing opportunity, assistance and practical guidance to small communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories and tribal lands to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitary wastewater disposal and economic prosperity. To learn more, visit www.rcap.org.

Museum on Main Street is a signature Smithsonian initiative for rural America, which works with state partners to provide traveling exhibitions, rich humanities programs and capacity development. Since 1994, MoMS has served more than 1,800 rural towns across every state.

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