Building and Birthing Human and Social Capital in Central Appalachia

When people begin to feel like and be considered investors in community building, we will begin to see our region transform.

Gerry F. Roll, Community Foundation of Hazard & Perry County

In her CAPP/ATI essay, Gerry Roll, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Hazard and Perry County, calls for major investments in human capital and in community endowments through Rural Development Philanthropy. She sees potential for leveraging community ownership to overcome persistent poverty and hardship in Appalachia’s most distressed counties.


Roll calls for an investment in human capital through quality early childhood education and care. She envisions new and extensive programs that represent a true investment in the future of the region.

This is not likely to happen, nor should it, just through traditional public school systems or simply through current Head Start initiatives designed decades ago to address this very issue [high levels of persistent poverty]. The multi-generational problems of the region have far surpassed the capacity of any one local, state or federal program.

Roll recognizes that her proposals will require significant resources. Local, state and federal entities have a role to play, but so do private citizens. The Community Foundation encourages the investment of regional wealth in community development philanthropy through estate planning. Gerry Roll wants to build a culture of community investment among residents as well as those who have left the area but will inherit regional assets when their parents pass. Community foundations have a key role to play in facilitating such investments and using them to reach a shared vision for a propserous future. For more on the Community Foundation’s efforts, click here.

Read Gerry Roll’s full essay here.

For more on Rural Development Philanthropy visit:

Center for Rural Strategies

The Aspen Institute’s Rural Development Philanthropy Learning Network