As Georgia’s flagship university, UGA has an institutional commitment to serve the state’s small and rural communities. SPIA’s approach is to engage directly with state and local governmental and nonprofit organizations, and to place students at the center of this engagement. Through its highly ranked Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, SPIA seeks to simultaneously serve rural Georgia and promote the skills and training of its students who will serve the needs of Georgia’s 118 counties  that have fewer than 50,000 residents. In addition, SPIA seeks to encourage and enhance access to UGA and to increase enrollment of students from these communities.

The David E. Ralston Small and Rural Communities Fund supports these aims. Gifts to this fund create a perpetual endowment to provide support for students and activities that enhance partnerships between SPIA and small and rural communities throughout Georgia. Examples of support include: internship stipends for MPA students to travel to and work in small communities in Georgia; scholarships for students hailing from these communities; and support for recruitment activities aimed at increasing enrollment of students from these communities.