About the Center

At Virginia Tech, we are passionate about improving educational opportunities for rural students. As a land grant university, we are committed to collaborating with rural communities in and around Southwest Virginia to ensure equitable K–12 educational experiences, increase college and career access, improve availability of the latest technologies, and invest in local enterprises. The Center integrates knowledge from across disciplines to bring greater attention to the talents and needs of rural schools and communities.

Click here to read a recent story about us in the Virginia Tech news!


The Center for Rural Education aims to advance educational equity in rural communities through research and outreach. Working with transdisciplinary teams from Virginia Tech and beyond, especially partners in rural communities, the Center for Rural Education seeks to understand and address the complex challenges that impact rural schooling. With the overarching goal of expanding learning opportunities for young people in rural places, the Center for Rural Education engages in robust research and meaningful outreach focused on serving students and underrepresented and historically marginalized rural populations in Southwest Virginia, Central Appalachia, and other rural communities throughout the United States and across the globe. 


At the Virginia Tech Center for Rural Education, we aim to: 

  • Build transdisciplinary teams that serve to bridge rural schooling with economic advancement, environmental activism, healthcare initiatives, and broadband technologies;
  • Work with interdisciplinary collaborators to apply for large-scale external grant funding focused on advancing equity in rural schools and communities;
  • Provide ongoing professional learning opportunities to rural teachers and educational leaders;
  • Establish school and community partnerships with rural districts across the region;
  • Support efforts within the Virginia Tech School of Education to develop innovative pathways for teacher licensure to support staffing needs in rural schools; 
  • Engage undergraduate and graduate students with research and outreach focused on educational equity in rural schools and communities; and
  • Host an annual conference at Virginia Tech focused on rural education.

Collaborate with us! Email rural@vt.edu to get in touch.


Black History Month Front Porch Conversation

Click here or scan the QR code below to register for this important conversation about rural and Black intersections!

Rural Film Festival!

Congratulations to Community Engagement Specialist Deirdre Hand!

Deirdre Hand is a co-founder of Elimisha Kakuma, a university preparation and access program that supports students in Kakuma Refugee Camp to access higher education. She co-founded Elimisha Kakuma in 2021 with Mary Maker, Diing Manyang, and Dudi Miabok, and early on they partnered with Virginia Tech’s Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies (CRMDS), who has supported Elimisha by providing student interns who became tutors to EK’s students as well as professors and instructors to teach Elimisha students in Kakuma online through zoom and canvas.

Since beginning her role as the Community Engagement Specialist with both CRMDS and the Center for Rural Education, she and the CRMDS team have been actively working to bring a refugee student to VT’s campus. Deirdre and the CRMDS team have been building an ECAR (Every Campus a Refuge) chapter at Virginia Tech, working with other community organizations and people from VT’s campus who would love to help host a refugee student on campus.

Having the perspective of her students from Kakuma Refugee Camp as well as the perspective from the university side, where there is a strong will to welcome refugee students, she is hopeful that more universities can open their campuses to welcoming talented refugee students who will enrich their campuses in ways that cannot be quantified.

We are very proud of the work that Deirdre does across all her multiple roles!

Support Us

Please help us grow our efforts to support rural schools and communities by clicking here to make a donation. Alternatively, contact the Virginia Tech Foundation and direct your gift to the Center for Rural Education Annual Fund.

Please let us know that you’ve made a contribution so we can thank you and learn more about your rural journey! 

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