University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Rural Assistance Center celebrates 10 years of service to rural America

The Rural Assistance Center (RAC), a national information resource for rural health and human services, is celebrating 10 years of service to rural America. Since its launch in December 2002, RAC’s website, www.raconline.org, has received over 6 million visits, and RAC staff members have responded to over 8,700 information requests from people across the country.

“People in rural organizations have to wear many hats. With their multiple responsibilities, time is always at a premium,” said RAC Program Director Kristine Sande. “Because of that, opportunities might be lost, not only for the providers but also the communities they serve. So our mission has always been to level the playing field for rural providers across the country in finding and competing for funding opportunities, staying abreast of current regulations and events, and accessing current information.”

Based at the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, RAC is a collaboration of the University of North Dakota and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI). It is funded through the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“In 10 years, the Rural Assistance Center has become a national resource for anyone who wants to know more about rural health or human services,” said Tom Morris, HRSA associate administrator for rural health. “We had high hopes when we initially awarded this grant, and UND and the RAC have far exceeded our high expectations.”

Chuck Fluharty, RUPRI president and CEO, said "The Rural Assistance Center has made a major contribution to the rural health and human services field over the past decade, and the Rural Policy Research Institute is honored to have been a co-founder and collaborator in this journey. Institutional innovation is always challenging, and few organizations can honestly say they have altered the knowledge dissemination dynamics within a field. RAC has done this."

In its 10 years of operation, RAC has continually grown and adapted its online collection of information available to rural stakeholders, offering an extensive online library, information by state and topic, various tools for community success, electronic updates, and customizable maps. In an effort to continue to meet the evolving needs of rural communities, RAC has recently partnered with other organizations to create the website’s Tools for Success, http://www.raconline.org/success/, which features toolkits and resources on topics vital to rural communities, such as obesity prevention, health information technology, community health workers, and planning for sustainability.