In April, the White House Rural Council partnered with the National Association of Counties to announce the Rural Impact County Challenge, a call for at least 100 counties to pledge to create opportunity for children in rural areas. On October 25, we achieved this goal. These 100 community leaders will prove instrumental in addressing the opportunity gap for rural kids, which is so often compounded by rural counties' distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse.
Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, include some of our most beautiful landmarks and provide the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country.
The Obama Administration is committed to investing in rural communities. Over the past eight years, we've taken actions to address the root causes and reduce the devastating effects of rural child poverty, and important progress has been made. For example, child food insecurity reached an all-time low in 2015. For families, median household income in rural areas of the U.S. increased by 3.4 percent in 2015 and poverty rates have fallen. We've also seen rural populations stabilize and begin to grow.
Our ability to reach the 100-county goal with the Rural Impact County Challenge marks a huge achievement for the White House and rural communities alike. But we're not done. While we have made important progress, it remains unacceptable that 1.5 million children in rural America - 23.7 percent of all rural youth - live in poverty.
It's not too late to join the Rural Impact County Challenge. County representatives can sign up by visiting http://www.naco.org/rural-impact-county-challenge-national-effort-combat-rural-child-poverty.
For questions or more information, please contact the White House Rural Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.