INTRODUCTION
In 2021, the National Center for State Courts, in partnership with Rulo Strategies, launched the Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) to showcase the strengths of rural communities and highlight the cross-sector collaboration that is a hallmark of rural justice systems. The RJC is supported with funding from the State Justice Institute.

The RJC is currently seeking nominations for innovation sites that will host virtual or in-person site visits, answer questions from other rural communities via phone, email, or webinars, and participate in conferences and workshops to share promising rural justice practices.

WHAT DOES THE RJC CONSIDER INNOVATIVE AND WHY SHOULD I APPLY?
The RJC seeks rural justice programs or initiatives that were developed in rural communities or adapted for rural communities that fall into RJC's seven areas of focus listed below. The selected innovation sites will be recognized for their work in rural communities and provided opportunities to share their successes in a variety of ways. Innovation sites will:
  • Be asked to host other rural communities for both in-person and web-based visits (up to 6 per year).
  • Will be featured on the RJC resource center and in a webinar and podcast.
  • Receive travel costs and waived fees to attend up to two regional trainings hosted by the RJC over the two year period.
HOW WILL INNOVATION SITES BE SELECTED?
All nominations will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the RJC Advisory Council. To be considered, your program or initiative must:
  • Primarily serve justice-involved individuals or families engaged in the court system or be designed to increase access to legal representation.
  • Reflect innovation that is specific to a rural community.
  • Have been operational for a least one year.
  • Be multi-disciplinary in nature (at least two agencies representing two different disciplines must be involved).
  • Have a written description of the initiative, practice, or program.
  • Have interest in serving as a mentor for other rural communities.
DEFINING "RURAL"
The RJC has adopted an inclusive approach that embraces the geographic, economic, social, and demographic diversity of rural communities. The Rural Health Information Hub, supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), created a tool to determine whether a specific location is considered rural based on various definitions. We encourage you to verify if your community is defined as rural using this tool before you apply. If the tool does not define your community as rural, please explain why you consider your service area to be rural.

AREAS OF FOCUS FOR NOMINATIONS
Nominations are being accepted for rural justice innovation sites engaged in one or more of the following areas:
  • Increasing access to behavioral health treatment
  • Reducing victimization
  • Facilitating employment and educational opportunities for justice-involved individuals
  • Eliminating barriers of access to justice
  • Reducing incarceration and recidivism
  • Facilitating reentry
  • Reducing the number of children in foster care due to familial substance use
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