April 3-4, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina

(Onsite check-in available April 2, special post-sessions on April 5)

One of the few national convenings to focus on rural America, the Rural Summit brings together teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education leaders, legislators, and nonprofit leaders to share ideas and strategies for ensuring that rural youth have the opportunity to enter school ready to learn and successfully transition from high school to college and career. Originally conceived as the Rural College Access and Success Summit, we have expanded our focus to include all points along the cradle-to-career path.

For the 2023 Summit, we have tapped the expertise of our presenting partners the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s urbanCORE (Community-Oriented Research and Engagement) and Save the Children to build an event that highlights the newest research on rural students and communities and presents current best practices in areas including early childhood development, family engagement, college access, and postsecondary and workforce. Additionally, there will be listening sessions and discussion of key topics in federal rural policy.

More information about our keynote presentations will be released over the next few weeks. A sampling of thirty-six planned breakout sessions is below and will be updated soon. 

Keynote Speakers

Eshauna Smith

Director, Community Impact – Ballmer Group

Dreama Gentry

President and CEO, Partners for Rural Impact

Scheduled Breakout Sessions

Engaging and preparing adults to listen to and share power with children  Barbara Ammirati, Sr. Advisor Child Protection and Ann Davis, Advisor, Child Protection Save the Children
Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of HopeMarilyn Farrell, Senior Advisor Mental Health, & Erin Murphy, Advisor Mental Health, Head Start Programs
Defining Rural, Assessing Need, and Making the Case Using Publicly Available Data Anita Drever, Head of Research and Evaluation, Save the Children; Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University (NCDP); Jonathan Sury, Senior Staff Associate, (NCDP).
Transforming Education Through Family School Engagement Emily Morris, The Brookings Institute, Washington DC
Mental Health Family Engagement ResourcesMeredith Wellman Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center/ Ohio State University) and Patrick D. Cunningham 
Family Engagement Assessment ToolThedra White, Flamboyan Foundation, Washington DC 
Why Rural Matters Report Dr. Jerry Johnson, Rural Education Institute, East Carolina University and Dr. Allen Pratt 
Executive Director & Co-Interim DirectorNational Rural Education Association 
Setting an Agenda for Rural Education Research Catherine Biddle, associate professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Maine and Pamela Buffington, the Director of Rural Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in the US Division of Education Development Center 
Rural Libraries as Anchor InstitutionsRhea Carter, Community Engagement & Connectivity Fellow, Conner Thomas Research and Data Support Liaison for Broadband, Annie Zomaya, Public Relations Specialist and Dr. Melissa Newman, Appalachian Cradle to Career Partnership 

More sessions will be added soon. You can download the schedule at a glance here.


Since 2018, the Rural Summit has brought together leaders from rural communities to share ideas and strategies for ensuring our youth have the opportunity to successfully transition from high school to college and career. 

Learn more about previous Summits here.