Resource Library

COVID-19 Update: The John T. Gorman Foundation is curating a list of resources, emerging best practices, and innovative ideas from across the country to help local organizations serve vulnerable Mainers during the coronavirus outbreak. To access those resources, visit or enter Covid-19 in the keyword search. Those results can be further focused by using the “Filter by” menu above to filter by population type (Young Children, Older Youth, Families, and Seniors) or by clicking the following links: childcare, education, food security, housing, rural areas, and workforce.

The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.


Rural utility cooperatives effective in supporting broadband access

June 9, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder reports on a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance that examined the role that locally owned utility cooperatives can play in supporting broadband access in rural places. Currently, co-ops are already responsible for 42% of maintained electric distribution lines. They also note that while larger internet service providers often overlook rural places, local co-ops are well equipped to provide internet access. Authors list possible public policy actions, such as expanding existing co-ops rather than creating new ones, that some states like North Carolina have already implemented successfully. #covid-19 #rural

Wide range of COVID-19 infection rates in rural counties in May

June 3, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder continued their ongoing tracking of COVID-19 cases in rural counties with a recent piece summarizing the situation during May 2020. Authors found that rural counties were on both ends of the spectrum—352 rural counties had no cases in May, while three quarters of the top 100 U.S. counties with the highest infection rates were also rural counties. The counties in which Navajo Nation falls are among the regions with the highest infection and death rates in the nation. #covid-19 #rural

States need to prepare for anticipated mental health crisis in rural America

June 1, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder reports on a recent analysis from Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care that predicts an increase in rural suicides as a result of the pandemic and recession. The study used 2018 data and found that a 1% increase in the unemployment rate was associated with a 1-1.6% increase in suicides. On top of economic challenges and the isolation caused by social distancing, rural areas tend to have less access to specialized mental health supports—over half of rural America receives their mental health care through a primary care provider. Researchers suggest that states should prepare to undertake these challenges by addressing the effects of unemployment, increasing access to care, and further integrating care. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth

Amid increasing financial struggles farmers need mental health support

May 27, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder reports on the devastating impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on farmers, with some using up their retirement plans to stay afloat. Farmers already have higher rates of mental illness and suicide, and there is concern that present economic tolls will exacerbate mental health struggles. Anticipating this, the Iowa Concern hotline is creating a new state-funded program to specifically assist farmers deal with impacts of the pandemic. A key element of the program is that when farmers reach out for financial assistance, they will also be made aware of mental health resources and counseling opportunities. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth

Computer donation programs help fill hardware gap in rural communities

May 27, 2020 – Families

A program in La Grange, Texas collects donations of old computers, refurbishes the machines, and gives them to community members in need. Lack of access to broadband internet is not the only aspect of the digital divide, as many folks do not have hardware. This program fills this hardware gap at a very low cost and can easily be replicated in other communities. #covid-19 #rural

Disaster recovery organization supports COVID-19 response, anticipates hurricane season

May 27, 2020 – Families

In rural North Carolina, a disaster recovery organization that normally responds to hurricanes is now responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The Robeson County Disaster Recovery Coalition has organized staff and volunteers to distribute over 3,000 masks, gloves, and antibacterial wipes to community members. They have also been sharing CDC resources about the coronavirus with residents. Just as the organization has pivoted to address the pandemic, June 1 marks the beginning of what is predicted to be an active hurricane season. The Coalition has been meeting weekly with other key stakeholders like nonprofits and schools to coordinate hurricane preparedness strategies that also adhere to social distancing best practices. #covid-19 #rural

Youth in Navajo Nation take action to protect elders

May 26, 2020 – Seniors

The health news site STAT reports that as of May 23, Navajo Nation had the highest COVID-19 infection rate of any state, territory, or tribe in the United States: 4,633 cases and 153 deaths in a population of 356,000. Since federal aid has been slow to reach tribes, young Navajos have stepped up to support families and protect elders. One such initiative, called Protect the Sacred, focuses on mobilizing tech-savvy young adults to communicate accurate health information to elders in their families and communities. In addition, the Northern Dine Covid-19 Relief Effort has harnessed young volunteers to solicit and deliver donations including food, water, and other crucial supplies for over 600 families on the reservation. #covid-19 #rural

Seed distribution program part of effort to enhance rural food access

May 24, 2020 – Families

An Indigenous-led nonprofit in Utah called Utah Diné Bikéyah has launched a new program to enhance food access for those living in remote parts of the Navajo Nation. This “Seeds and Sheep” program mails indigenous seed packets to families so that they can grow their own culturally relevant food at home (distribution of a traditional breed of sheep is expected to begin in the fall). Over 300 families have benefited so far. This effort links with a longer-term goal in many Native American communities to promote traditional foods and Native food sovereignty broadly. The pandemic has fueled this movement, especially as grocery stores face shortages. This seed distribution program can be replicated on other reservations or in other rural areas where food supply chains have been disrupted. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #rural

Navajo Nation Police Department enforces strict curfews, weekend lockdowns

May 23, 2020 – Families

COVID-19 has hit Navajo Nation very hard and in response the nation has taken strict measures to limit the further spread of the virus. One strategy has been 57-hour weekend lockdowns during which even essential businesses are closed. Many parts of the United States have been under various lockdown orders, but the Navajo Nation lockdowns are unique in intensity (by including essential businesses) and in the level of enforcement. From May 16-18, the seventh weekend lockdown, the Navajo Police Department issued 110 citations for curfew infractions. The penalties for violating curfew are steep—up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail. #covid-19 #rural

COVID-19 crisis complicates access to behavioral health providers in rural places

May 14, 2020 – Young Children, Older Youth, Families

The COVID-19 crisis has had a ripple effect on many aspects of the health care system, including mental and behavioral health providers. Rural areas were already seriously underserved, but getting treatment is becoming even more difficult as clinics close or move to telehealth. Those who do have access to providers may avoid facilities for fear of being exposed to the virus. A facility in Kentucky is working to supplement direct, in-person appointments. Through social distancing and no-contact protocols, they are allowing patients to use the facility’s own computers for telehealth check-ins with other healthcare providers. This fills an important gap, as many in the area do not have home broadband. #covid-19 #mentalhealth #rural

Medical schools and teaching hospitals step up to support rural communities

May 14, 2020 – Families

The Association of American Medical Colleges summarizes actions by medical schools and teaching hospitals to support rural communities in the pandemic. In mid-March as COVID-19 hit Tennessee, East Tennessee State University scrambled to set up the first testing site in the rural region. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences set up a mobile testing unit and has transferred sicker COVID-19 patients from smaller facilities to larger hospitals. Teaching hospitals also support local rural populations with expanded telemedicine and creative dissemination of health information, including through public television to circumvent lack of internet access. #covid-19 #rural

Now is the time to invest in rural broadband, but can federal aid be used?

May 14, 2020 – General

Pew Charitable Trusts reports that many rural residents view this time of social distancing as an opportunity to push for broadband investments. Vermont is one of one of several states that are considering using their federal CARES Act money to expand broadband, and unlike other states, Vermont has developed an Emergency Broadband Action Plan. However, efforts may be constrained by a federal requirement to use CARES Act money by the end of 2020. The Vermont Department of Public Service estimates that it would take around three years to complete their broadband expansion project. (Link to Vermont’s Emergency Broadband Action Plan: #covid-19 #rural