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Developing equitable economic ecosystems by expanding cultural agility and creating asset building systems that improve livelihoods for individuals, organizations, and communities.


Visit The Sowing Room to find resources to support welcoming communities in rural MN!

What is culture?

Culture is a word that refers to the social norms, ideas, arts, beliefs, and other characteristics shared by a group of people in a set time and place. Because these characteristics can be very different among different groups of people, misunderstanding can quickly arise, and these misunderstandings can seriously hamper the efforts of a business and community to expand, grow, or operate successfully.

What is cultural agility?

Cultural agility refers to the ability of an organization or community and its members to understand, incorporate, and successfully work within and between multiple different cultural contexts and locations.


What is our focus?

Organizations and communities apply to participate in this program based on their desire to create a welcoming space. There are funding dollars available for the implementation of a community project that highlights and showcases the Welcoming Communities initiative. Projects could be centered around a wide variety of cultural groups, such as  veterans, millennials, youth, those living in poverty, Latinx, Native Americans, people affected by mental illness or disabilities, LBGTQ, and seniors. We seek to find areas of common ground through faith, hope, love, and charity, but also through hard work with a focus on entrepreneurship, workforce and economic development.


JEDI Fellowship

Hannah Smith joined the team in 2022 as the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Fellow. In her role, she supports the rural workforce sector to attract and retain untapped workers (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, youth, women, veterans, previously incarcerated etc.) through the Inclusive Workforce Employer Designation (I-WE) – in direct partnership with Community Workforce Inclusion Committee, Rural Minnesota CEP and the Regional Workforce Alliance. Hannah also supports of the work of the Justice System Consortium (JSC) with coordination and administration of quarterly meetings, and mentorship of JSC projects/programs in ways that offer workforce attraction and retention, and quality of life.


Indigenous Local Foods Fellowship

Dennika Mays is serving as the Indigenous Local Foods Fellow at R5DC. Dennika is involved in the region as a community culinary artist and provides CSA cooking demonstrations, along with exploration and learning of indigenous local foods, and professional development time with coursework via the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).  

R5DC supports resiliency, inclusion and collaboration as guiding concepts in achieving mutually shared goals.


The IDI Assessments assist our understanding of and ability to experience cultural difference, and how to set and achieve goals that further develop individual and group skills that impact community service.


To learn more about these initiatives, please connect with Dawn Espe.

This program is funded by the Blandin Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation and Sourcewell.

Regional storytelling is funded by the McKnight Foundation.

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