About Rural SF

We are a foundation changing the way society tackles economic sustainability- bridging Urban and Rural communities.

We believe every person deserves a path or opportunity to success.

Our Vision

Rural Synergy’s Vision is to enhance the lives of children, families and individuals of rural communities by providing resources (financial, training and development tools) that eliminate barriers to success and create sustainable infrastructures for rural organizations (businesses, non-profits, education, healthcare, etc…)

Our Story

The Rural Synergy Foundation is the Vision of three directors originally from Surprise Valley, California a valley comprised of less than 800 people. The heart of the Foundation is to help rural areas thrive in their own Unique ways without compromising the values, culture and heart of each community. Each director has a different experience that has led to the creation of the Rural Synergy Foundation.

Meet Our Team

Heather Tufts

Founder/ Director


As sixth generation growing up in Surprise Valley, my family is deeply rooted in the loving community. Where safety, comfort and the freedom can appear to be so precious these days. Growing up I played in the creeks, rode bikes all day exploring town, camped, fished, helped on our family ranch, worked in my grandmother’s grocery store, played many sports and bonded with my class of 15. It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized the special uniqueness rural communities have to offer!
After graduating college and traveling I moved back home to Surprise Valley for about 8 years. During that time I worked for a non-profit as the Director for Afterschool and Resource and Referral Programs. During these 8 years I also acquired my Masters in Educational Leadership (remotely), Co-lead the establishment of the Surprise Valley Child Development Center, coached High School Basketball, and helped start the Surprise Valley Education Foundation.
These experiences built and intensified my passion and desire to ensure children and families are successful in life. My passion and drive took me to San Francisco in 2013 where I began working for the City of San Francisco as a Senior Community Development Specialist; managing grants, planning city-wide for Afterschool and Summer Youth Programs, and facilitating Racial Equity conversations for departmental changes. These Rural and Urban experiences bring together the possibilities of how Non-profit’s, City Government, K-12 Education, private and public funding sources can systematically work together to provide a positive impact on children and their families in rural communities.

David Goodwin

Founder/Director

Business Owner, Workforce Development & Financial Education
Both my wife and my roots stretch back into rural communities beyond modern records to a time best documented in the local grave yards. In 1986 at the age of nineteen we married. In 1987 while I working and attending the University of Nevada Reno as a full time metallurgical engineering student we purchased our first house to rehab and turn into a rental. In the three plus decades since we have owned and operated various businesses and investments.
In 1996 with the addition of two children we knew it was time to return to the isolated often overlooked world of the far North Eastern corner of California that had shaped our very being. I resigned the position I had worked so hard for in corporate America, we sold our motel in South Lake Tahoe and devoted ourselves to raising the next generation of small town Americans. It has been our passion to bring as much energy, money, and awareness to our rural community as we could.
Our first venture into the nonprofit arena occurred in 2007 when Surprise Valley Scholarships incorporated (SVSI) a 503-C nonprofit was created. This organization which is owned by the students and guided by a few caring adults has brought thousands of dollars to students in the form of scholarships. Its activities have brought many times more dollars into the local economy. Most importantly it has given great confidence to many isolated rural young people when dealing with people from urban communities.

Christina Schwanke

Founder/Director

I grew up in Cedarville, California. Cedarville is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth, unfortunately for most it is financially impossible to survive let alone thrive; so at 18 I moved to Southern California to go to college and pursue a career. After Graduating from the Master’s University in 2006 I landed a job with a big PR firm working on accounts such as Warner Brothers, Microsoft and Metro PCS. Despite the opportunities in Los Angeles I was miserable and soon relocated to Bishop, California where found my calling working for local nonprofits. I soon met my husband. James and I were unable to make a sustainable living and realized the need for relevant job training to our community. My husband decided to pursue a career in linework but due to the lack of apprenticeship opportunity in our small town we relocated to North Dakota. In 2015 James received his Journeyman Ticket and we were able to relocate to Storey County Nevada. The job training my husband received allowed our family to live in a rural community we love while having health insurance, saving for retirement and providing the life we dreamed of for our daughter. It is my heart to help families to build a sustainable life in the rural communities they love.