RALI Marlboro, which is an acronym for Rural Area Leadership Initiative in Marlboro County, began in the fall of 2007 as an effort by the Francis Marion University Foundation to develop capacity building enterprises in three pilot South Carolina communities (Marlboro, Marion, and Williamsburg counties). RALI was started in conjunction with funds from Francis Marion University and the PSARAS Foundation in Columbia. Capacity building or capacity development often refers to strengthening the skills, competencies and abilities of people and communities in developing societies so they can overcome the causes of their exclusion and suffering. Each of the three initial communities selected were evidenced as being quality representatives with the necessary criteria needed to begin programs there which could then be replicated in rural communities throughout the state.
In June 2008, at the conclusion of the training process, the group in Marlboro County founded RALI Marlboro as an IRS approved 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to address and solve community problems and enhance quality of life through the coordination of public and private resources, the building of diverse partnerships and coalitions, and the development of a common vision for Marlboro County’s future. The RALI Marlboro Board of Directors makes a conscious effort to be representative of the demographics of the county. While the initial RALI Marlboro Board of Directors established countywide recreation to be the organizations' first focus, RALI Marlboro will participate in and help facilitate any endeavor that fits its mission of "Enhancing the Quality of Life in Marlboro County."