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Rural boost – Focus on Carolinas

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Strengthening 26 rural communities in the Carolinas will be the focus of a $10 million effort by the Duke Endowment in Charlotte and MDC Inc., a Chapel Hill think-tank that focuses on economic and workforce development.

The communities, to be selected next summer, will receive grants, coaching, skills training technical assistance from the $2.8 billion-asset foundation and from MDC.

Large grants will be made to six communities for big collaborative projects to stimulate their economies, while smaller grants will be made to 20 communities to focus on more modest projects.

The foundation and MDC will visit and screen communities this fall and, early in 2002, help them decide whether to apply for the big or small grants.

In launching the rural initiative, the foundation is building on a similar three-year effort to encourage collaboration and strengthen community resources to support children and families.

The foundation, which made grants totaling nearly $100 million in 2000, has invested nearly $7.6 million in the children and families program, which it launched in 1998.

The rural project will be directed for MDC by Leslie Boney, a former official of the N.C. Department of Commerce who was staff director for the state’s Rural Prosperity Task Force.

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