Rural Opportunity Institute

Rural Opportunity Institute (ROI) builds the capacity of rural communities in Eastern North Carolina to support people’s healing from generational trauma to achieve health, safety, connection, and self-determination. As part of our work, we facilitate and advocate for community-driven policy solutions to local and state issues. We hold monthly policy listening sessions to identify priority issues, and then work with community experts and policymakers to design locally-appropriate solutions. Our current focus is working with the Edgecombe County School District and Sheriff’s office to implement trauma-informed trainings for School Resource Officers (SROs). We are also working with the Town of Tarboro to create a summer high school internship program for local youth. 

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Fast Facts

Relevant Actions
State or Local? Local
CountiesEdgecombe, Nash
Lead Agency Rural Opportunity Institute
Type of Agency


Racial Equity Lens
  • A large majority of the community listening session attendees, community experts, and policy-makers that drive our policy program are people of color.
  • We focus on breaking the cycles of intergenerational trauma and poverty that are perpetuated by unjust systems, which disproportionately affect people of color in the communities where we work.
  • We offer resilience training in the community, led by a collaborative of 20+ local individuals certified as resilience educators. The majority of our trainers are people of color from Eastern NC, and our training includes content on historical trauma and racialized generational trauma.
Community Voice
  • ROI’s major strategic decisions and actions are subject to approval by our Community Accountability Board, drawn directly from the community we serve.
  • We follow the human-centered design process to design all of our programs and initiatives. Through this process, we engage with the community members most impacted by the problems we’ve identified, and work with them to envision trauma-informed solutions that might provide better support.
  • Completed two cohorts (3-4 organizations in each) of our Resilient Leaders Initiative, which gives community organizations the tools to implement trauma-informed programs within their organization.
  • Designed and delivered a specially created trauma-informed training for 4 School Resources Officers (SROs) in our district, scheduling trainings for the remaining SROs. 
  • Delivered biofeedback breathing program in a local school, resulting in a 57% decrease in anxiety symptoms in participating students. Also delivered in several middle schools, a juvenile detention center, county jail, and with social services staff.
Next Steps
  • Implement a yearly evaluation process for SROs that involves students, teachers, and administrators, in partnership with Sheriff’s Office.
  • Focus on plugging in to existing community gatherings to strengthen the community-driven nature of our policy program.
  • Increase advocacy activities with local and state legislators and policy-makers, including “administrative advocacy” activities to ensure that existing policies are implemented equitably and effectively.
  • Implementing our new Theory of Change:
    • Finding new ways to support local public institutions in rural Eastern NC to implement trauma-informed policies and practices
    • Supporting other rural communities across the state and beyond to learn from and adapt our approaches and solutions
Primary Partners
  • Local government organizations including Edgecombe County Public Schools, Edgecombe Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, etc.
  • Grassroots leaders including advocates, organizers, and resilience trainers
  • Statewide advocacy groups like NC Child, Every Child NC
  • National organizations like (e.g. Teach for America and New Profit)
Primary Funders
  • Anonymous Trust
  • Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust
  • Z Smith Reynolds Foundation
  • Nash UNC Healthcare
  • Camelback Ventures
  • Transcend
  • New Schools Venture Fund
  • Barnhill Contracting Company
  • New Profit
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
Contact Vichi Jagannathan

Active Counties