FOCUS PartnershipsGrand Challenges/FOCUS Partnerships: Enhancing Mental and Behavioral Health for Children and Youth in Rural Wisconsin Communities

Overview: Families, Organizations, Community, University and Schools (FOCUS) is a universal mental health promotion program designed to align and integrate evidence-based mental health support in an efficient, effective and sustainable delivery system for rural schools, families and community stakeholders. To address the high needs and low resources in rural communities, this evidence-based approach will provide access and support for mental health interventions with a focus on prevention, promotion and early intervention. Specific activities will likely include building parent, teacher and community stakeholder knowledge, and skills in evidence-based mental health interventions, promoting collaboration across stakeholders and creating professional communities.

Building Partnerships to Promote Mental Health for Children and Youth in Rural Wisconsin

The purpose of this Baldwin Seed Project is to identify mental health needs, examine existing rural school-based mental health practices, and develop a scoped and sequenced plan for rural schools to promote positive mental health for children and youth. Partnership research will drive four goals grounded in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Partners include the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, the Department of Public Instruction, and rural schools.


Teacher Pipeline: Practitioner Perspectives on Rural School Recruitment

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention in, and for, rural schools. It explores the diversity of rural communities and the relationship between teacher preparation, ongoing professional learning opportunities, and retention components in order to develop a rich case study of the rural teaching profession in Wisconsin. This project prioritizes the viewpoint of current practitioners as a way to illuminate on-the-ground perspectives of how to attract and retain high-quality teachers in rural schools.


Adams County with UniverCity Alliance

RERIC is collaborating with a UW-Madison UniverCity Alliance community-based project in Adams County, WI.


Morgridge Rural Summer Science Camp Alumni Study

This project is a collaboration with staff from the Morgridge Institute for Research (Dan Murphy) and WARF (Travis Tangen) to study the impact of the Morgridge Institute’s ongoing rural summer science camp program’s student and teacher alumni to assess their overall engagement with science and scientific thinking.


Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center

This collaboration with the Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center will examine implementation and sustainability of academic and behavioral systems of support.



We will engage multiple stakeholders across disciplines in collaboration to leverage the significant assets in rural communities to address the complex challenges facing rural education.