VP for Extension and Outreach Offers Funding Opportunity to Counties to Participate in Leading Communities

Participants identify and rank opportunities during the Leading Communities process.Counties interested in boosting their local leadership capacity now have the opportunity to do so at a reduced cost thanks to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. 

The initiative, sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach vice president John Lawrence, is in response to listening sessions conducted in 2018 throughout the state, during which local leadership emerged as a key factor affecting communities’ ability to thrive. 

Leading Communities: A Place-based Leadership Program is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) program designed to help residents develop, increase, and sustain the local leadership efforts that are necessary to address community issues. The research based instructional materials are organized so that participants will learn core competencies and skills associated with community leadership to meet the particular needs of their communities (see article on page 6). 

The program is taught in six sessions, each lasting three hours. Sessions are designed to provide participants with skills to bring community members together to create change for the good of the community. Educational materials are learner centered and structured to create a more collaborative learning environment that actively involves participants in the learning process. Program evaluation strategies are embedded into each session. 

Benefits to communities and county extension offices of participating in Leading Communities include:

  • Increasing the visibility of county extension offices
  • Connecting county offices to diverse stakeholders and strengthening Extension’s presence in community networks
  • Building a better understanding of local issues for thoughtful local decision making
  • Building local capacity for enhancing quality of life and community development
  • Motivating community members to be more involved in their communities and Extension

Taught by CED specialists, the standard fee for program delivery is $8,000 for six sessions. Fees cover travel, materials, and the other costs of program delivery. A partial grant of $2,000 is available from the Office of the Vice President for Extension and Outreach under the following conditions:

  • Counties will apply to CED for these funds by completing an application form (see below for questions or application).
  • The County Extension Council will match a $2,000 stipend from the Vice President of Extension and Outreach with an equal or greater contribution.
  • The county director (other equivalent position) and at least one County Extension Council member will participate in the program.
  • The county director will assist CED and local partners in the participant application and program planning processes (for example, recruiting, logistics, reminders, set up) and continue to participate in or contribute to local community networks after the conclusion of the program.

Leading Communities is a new program but ISU Extension and Outreach is already seeing results. As one participant from Lee County stated “Leading Communities was excellent! There were many learning tools provided and I worked with a great team on a community project.”

For more information or to receive an application contact Brian Perry at bmperry@iastate.edu or 501-772-8988.