Posted on January 13th, 2022 in SPOTLIGHT
~by Michael Wilcox
Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development / Purdue Extension
Associate Director / North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD)
The New Year represents the opportunity for people to make resolutions and envision what the year might bring. We have dispensed with the resolutions for Purdue Extension’s Community Development Program and, instead, have a solid vision for 2022, including several new program launches and exciting partnerships! Here are some highlights:
- Purdue Extension Community Development, the Purdue Institute for Family Business, and the Purdue Center for Regional Development are partnering with the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Hub Program. This two-year, $1 million grant, awarded to NIIC, will strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem that serves female, minority, and rural entrepreneurs in the northeast Indiana region.
- Taking Action to Address Substance Use in Communities (TASC) is a collaboration between Purdue Extension, Purdue School of Nursing, University of Illinois Extension, and Ohio State University Extension. TASC is an interdisciplinary program developed for Extension Educators to lead coalitions through the process of fostering robust community-based recovery-oriented systems of care. The program’s cornerstone is creating a complex adaptive system map, which represents every facet of the community affected by substance use and uniquely represents the local culture and values. In addition, TASC relies on an inclusive, asset-based action-planning approach to developing solutions within the community. TASC is underway in four Indiana counties and the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota.
- Community Coaching is a new Purdue Extension Community Development course available nationally through Purdue Online. Through this course, individuals will increase their knowledge of the principles and practices of community coaching; reflect on and increase their self-awareness of their role in different groups; identify their community coaching style and personal philosophy; deepen their capacity to coach community groups in a variety of situations; and build a network of colleagues to support continued learning and practice. Registration is now open for the first class of 2022 from February 28 – May 9, 2022!
- Food Security has been a major issue in Indiana for years, and the situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Purdue Extension Community Development is working on two applied research projects focused on food deserts. The first is in partnership with the Michigan City Economic Development Corporation. Using a triangulation approach (secondary data (databases), primary data (surveys and focus groups), and peer-to-peer networking), we are developing a report that will help decision-makers in their action planning process. This process will identify and deploy appropriate strategies to address food insecurity locally. Similarly, we are supporting the work of an undergraduate student in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Claire Baney, who is partnering with Purdue Extension and the Madison County Local Food Network to conduct a similar study in Anderson, Indiana. Reports for both cities are scheduled for release in Spring 2022.
- Rural Housing has been identified as a major constraint to growth in Indiana. Purdue Extension Community Development and the Purdue Center for Regional Development have been conducting applied research and delivering Extension programming on this important topic since 2016. Purdue Extension worked with Noble County in 2018 , the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis regions in 2019, and in Blackford County in 2021 on housing issues. This year, Purdue Extension Community Development is partnering with Partnership Parke County to examine the situation in Parke County using a mixed-methods, action planning approach. A final report will be released in early Spring 2022.
- Purdue Extension Community Development is partnering with the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) and experts from across the country to develop and pilot a leading-edge curriculum focused on creating rural pathways to work. With funding from Ascendium, the Future Opportunities for Rural Workforce and Rural Development (FORWARD) program mobilizes local Extension educators to be the catalyst that brings together community partners to map career pathways for individuals within the region. Through input from employers and job seekers, gaps in training and education needs will be identified and addressed. The end goal is to have clearly defined career pathways for the local economy with appropriate training available to assist low-income rural job seekers in finding meaningful employment and advancement. FORWARD pilots have commenced in Indiana, Utah, and Arkansas.
- In partnership with the University of Florida Extension and Michigan State University Extension, Purdue Extension has developed a new course, the Sustainable Living and Leadership Series. Each topic is delivered in module form and explore trends, statistics, actions and how leaders in sustainability are making a difference in our world. As an overarching theme, leadership is woven throughout each module, allowing attendees to gain a deeper understanding of global-to-local movements by leaders responsible for moving sustainability forward. Through the leadership aspect of this series, participants will discover ways to make a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.
- The National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) has selected Indianapolis as the host city for the 2022 NACDEP Annual Meeting! This meeting will be the first face-to-face NACDEP conference since 2019. Purdue Extension Community Development is serving as the host and is working with Community Development Extension professionals from across the country to make the conference a success. The 2022 NACDEP Annual Meeting will take place from June 5-8, 2022.
The above examples provide an idea of the breadth and depth of the work that we are conducting across the state and nation. This newsletter will continue to highlight our work and our new website (coming this Spring!) will serve as our hub of information for Purdue Extension Community Development.
While the future is unknown, 2022 promises to be filled with opportunities, challenges, and surprises. The Purdue Extension Community Development team stands at the ready to strengthen the capacity of local leaders, residents, businesses, and organizations to build resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities through research-based resources and processes. And, as always, please reach out any time (firstname.lastname@example.org ). We love to hear from our colleagues, partners, and stakeholders.