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CROPS signature program, Growing Rural, is an innovative program designed to create rural leaders for tomorrow. In direct alignment with CROPS’ mission, Growing Rural uses service-learning activities that build skills in critical thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, innovation, character development, leadership, employment preparation, and youth philanthropy. The program encourages inner-city youth and adult mentors to work with rural youth to solve rural problems. Branding the Growing Rural program to align with their agricultural roots, CROPS’ founders created a rural development model with six steps:

  • Field Analysis, community and youth development needs assessments
  • Soil Preparation, leadership development of adult mentors and youth volunteers
  • Seed Planting, service-learning aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math
  • Plant Nourishment, grant writing for youth and cultural enrichment, digital media
  • Crop Harvesting, measurable community and youth development outcomes
  • Land Enrichment, evaluation and continuous improvement processes

The Growing Rural Model for youth development was tested and refined with funding from the Ball Brothers Foundation (Muncie, Indiana) and CHS Foundation (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and has produced preliminary research-based results demonstrating significant youth development outcomes and rural community satisfaction. Our past work in rural communities has led to systemic solutions: increases in youth volunteerism, adult mentorship, private donors, grant awards, collaborators, town meetings, products, and services. Growing Rural youth have written three winning grant proposals to the Indianapolis Colts, Alamo Area RC&D, and Green Works. In addition, Growing Rural youth published a Growing Rural book and produced a Growing Rural DVD to teach other youth how to replicate their success. The book and DVD document the success of the Growing Rural program by integrating youth photography, video, music, and prose. Growing Rural provides opportunities for youth to:

  • Serve on a Board of Directors for a nonprofit organization,
  • Learn how to write grant proposals to bring funding in for community needs,
  • Plan and design recreational areas that promote tourism,
  • Transform unsightly buildings into vibrant public community facilities,
  • Research and design landscape projects that beautify the area,
  • Interview elders in the community and produce digital history stories,
  • Lead public health projects to improve rural health outcomes
  • Learn how to design websites, publish books, and produce training films that
  • Teach other youth how to replicate successful youth development practices.

CROPS can customize Growing Rural to focus on health care, environmental sustainability, youth entrepreneurship, and various other areas of rural needs. Currently CROPS is working on projects in Hawaii, Indiana, Montana, and Texas and has the ability to train trainers in any community to replicate the Growing Rural model. Call or email Beverly Santicola for more details at 866-843-3493 or



2929 Buffalo Speedway, Suite 213
Houston, TX 77098
Phone: +1 866 843 3493
FAX: +1 713 960 0537