For the past 46 years the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) a national network of non-profit organizations, has provided technical assistance, training, resources and support to rural communities, tribal lands and territories. RCAP trainings from four decades ago, however, look dramatically different from those of today, especially as RCAP strives to provide communities and small water and wastewater utilities the same, high-quality trainings in a virtual environment during the pandemic.
When Coronavirus cases began to spread in the United States in March 2020, the RCAP regional partners and national office pivoted quickly to shifting the more than 500 in person trainings the network conducts a year to a virtual setting. RCAP training workshops and topics run the gamut of technical drinking water and wastewater compliance, to financial sustainability and rate-setting, to proper septic system or well maintenance, to management and leadership and more. Many of these benefit from in-person, hands-on exercises and peer-to-peer learning. Audiences often include rural water operators, water board members, financial managers/accountants/bookkeepers, community residents, and homeowners.
While many organizations struggled to make the switch to virtual meetings and events and still convey value, the RCAP regions moved swiftly and effectively, with the support of grant funders, to ensure they could continue to offer the same assistance to the rural communities they work with so extensively. Trainings even shifted to new topics, like how rural communities can adopt virtual communications platforms and hold public meetings.
We suggest visiting the training website for the region where you live to see the whole scope of local training offerings, as provided in the following links:
Communities Unlimited (CU), the southern regional RCAP partner, provides many services and trainings for rural entrepreneurs and small businesses in addition to those for small water and wastewater utilities. Topics often include Facebook advertising and explaining balance sheets and income statements. Additionally, CU created a Small Business Toolkit using the information from the Families First and CARES Acts for small businesses that can be found here. CU’s full training calendar can be found here.
Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP), is the Great Lakes regional partner and includes Kentucky and West Virginia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to pivoting to online trainings, GLCAP developed a Planning for Pandemics Toolkit for small systems to help prepare for a pandemic and presented a webinar on the topic. GLCAP’s online trainings are organized by the states they serve, and can be found here.
Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) is the Midwest regional RCAP partner. In addition to having a training calendar (on a new, easy-to-follow website) showcasing virtual trainings, MAP also will work with communities to secure locations (virtual or in-person), schedule events, notify attendees, and help with registration for training needed by a community. Types of trainings offered by request can be found here.
Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), the western regional RCAP partner, offers a wide array of services and training topics, including housing counseling and basic electrical concepts, in addition to community development, water and wastewater assistance. To register for an online training, view their training calendar here.
RCAP Solutions (RSOL) is the northeastern regional RCAP partner that also covers Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. When COVID-19 cases started to rise, RSOL focused on making their online trainings easily accessible for all. In addition to their virtual trainings in English, they also offer virtual trainings in Spanish. Financial capability and capacity building workshops are also available and cover a wide array of topics. View their training calendar here.
Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. (SERCAP) is the southeastern regional RCAP partner. In response to the need for virtual trainings, SERCAP created its “Summer Learning Series.” Topics range widely based on needs for rural communities, from septic system maintenance to broadband. Register for their trainings here.
To see a national snapshot of virtual trainings, you can visit RCAP’s Training Calendar.