One of our polarized country’s most pronounced challenges is the growing divide between rural and urban America. It is a gap that includes significant variations in economic opportunities and what can be debilitating disparities in critical modern infrastructure, such as access to high-speed internet. It is a gap that also includes sometimes stark social and political differences. Understanding and effectively addressing this divide is essential for the wellbeing of our democracy.
Jen Giovannitti is the President of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a place-based funder dedicated to rural communities. It generally invests two-thirds of its grant dollars in West Virginia and one-third in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Prior to joining the Benedum Foundation, Ms. Giovannitti led community-based initiatives for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, working both regionally and nationally on issues facing low-income communities and advancing strategies for community investment. Earlier in her career, she lived in West Virginia for 11 years and led a succession of important economic development initiatives.