Southern Rural Development Center

FY2014 Plan of Work

he SRDC’s 15-member Technical and Operational Advisory Committee (TOAC) met in
October 2013 to review the priorities and the Research/Extension activities of the Center. TOAC membership, composed of six Research faculty and six Extension specialists from the

1862 and 1890 land-grant schools in the region, as well as three non-land-grant representatives, provides programmatic guidance to the SRDC, ensuring
that the work of the Center is aligned with the needs of people

SRDC’s Three priorities

and communities in the rural
that SRDC’s three

remain relevant to the needs in the rural South

South. TOAC continues to believe
overarching priorities remain
relevant to the needs and issues in the rural South. TOAC provided the SRDC staff with its recommendations on how to fine tune its proposed FY14 activities during its fall face-to-face meeting. On behalf of the TOAC, the chair of this advisory group formally presented the proposed FY14 plan of work to the SRDC Board of Directors. The Board voted unanimously in support of the plan as developed by the TOAC in partnership with
the SRDC staff. The following outlines the efforts that will be pursued in FY14 by the SRDC.

PRIORITY 1: Fostering Civic-Minded Communities

The Center will continue to make important strides in advancing work designed to facilitate and strengthen the engagement of people in their communities. The following are the key efforts the SRDC will carry out over the next fiscal year:

1. Turning the Tide on Poverty: The “Turning the Tide on Poverty” pilot effort was launched in five states involving eight communities during 2009-10. During the second phase in

2011, seven new state teams were trained to launch the initiative and an additional four sites were added in 2012. Over the course of several years’ work, a rich collection of associated data has been gathered in order to better understand how to foster civic engagement. During 2014,
the SRDC plans the following activities to continue support of this work: (a) Facilitate the work of the multi-state research team: Through a joint learning agreement from the Kettering Foundation, the SRDC coordinated a multi-state data collection process to explore the Tide
initiative. This process involved conducting pre and post-event key informant interviews, focus groups, and administering surveys to participants. A multi-state research team has begun exploring this data to learn more about the implications for fostering civic engagement in the future. Additionally, an opportunity to examine the Tide data alongside the Horizons data (Tide’s sister program in the northwest portion of the nation) is now underway. (b) Develop a series of impact reports for phase two sites: Using a Ripple Map process, the research team will visit selected sites to record impacts that can be developed into reports for future use.

2. Community Circles/National Issues Forum Activities: The Center will cooperate with other national organizations to promote collaboration on civic engagement opportunities. These partnerships include, but are not limited to, the National Issues Forum (NIF) and the Southern Growth Policy Board forums.

3 Explore New Opportunities: The SRDC will be exploring new opportunities to advance the research and Extension work in this priority area over the coming year.

PRIORITY 2: Build Economically Vibrant Communities

he Center will continue to carry out the variety of efforts that are intended to advance the economic health of rural places in the region. It will do so in partnership with its land-
grant university colleagues and other key external partners.

1. National e-Commerce Extension Initiative: The SRDC will continue to coordinate this national initiative, strategically using the limited resources that Center has to improve the quality of resources available to support the broadband and e-commerce efforts of Extension educators across the nation. In the coming year, the Center will pursue the following:

Update Most Frequently Used Curriculum Products: Some popular e-commerce products are in need of updating and the Center will target resources to have some of these updated.
Produce New Curricula e-Commerce Products: The Center will release 1-2 new or updated educational products in FY14.
Produce eNews: The SRDC will continue to disseminate cutting edge research and
Extension information through its electronic newsletter.

2. Organize/Support National Broadband Extension/Research Team: Given the significant investments being made by key federal and state agencies to expand broadband access to underserved areas of the United States, a number of Extension programs across the nation are working hand-in-hand with many of their state/federal agencies to strengthen the adoption and application of broadband. In an effort to share promising practices and to build a more integrated set of resources to support these Extension activities, the SRDC will continue to foster the work of the National Broadband Extension and Partners Team that initiated in December 2011. The Center will work with the team to write a proposal for AFRI funding to help support the expanding group’s research and Extension endeavors to better understand and serve the broadband needs of rural areas. Additional support will be provided through maintenance of a national listserv of professionals engaged in this work. Also, the Center will continue to provide assistance to the development of a broadband repository of resources in order to facilitate integration and development of broadband education resources addressing digital literacy and broadband issues of relevance to small businesses, workforce development agencies, and municipal governments.

3. Continue the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Initiative by Providing

Support/Guidance to Phase I, II, III, and IV Regions: The SRDC will continue, in

partnership with USDA RD and the Purdue Center for Regional Development, to provide overall coordination for the SET initiative in states that have launched SET in the past four years. As such, the Center will carry a diversity of activities in FY14 in support of this key initiative, including the following:
Communications: Maintain conference calls and email communications with all states that are part of the SET program.
Internal Evaluation of SET Resources: Continue to fine tune and administer pre- and post- assessment surveys to regional team members involved in SET.
Revision of SET Materials: Secure feedback from state training team members and regional participants regarding need revisions/refinements to the SET modules. Revise modules as needed to enhance their effectiveness.
Webinars: Conduct webinars on timely topics that can help strengthen the work of the regional teams and/or training teams.
Coordinate Evaluation Team: Assemble evaluators from within and outside of the SET training teams to cross-visit SET sites to explore the work of SET across the various Phases and sites.
Specialized Data Reports: Coordinate the development of socio-demographic and cluster analysis data needed to support the SET efforts in cooperation with Purdue Center for Regional Development.
Presentations: Present highlights of SET at various national and regional meetings

PRIORITY 3: Expanding Opportunities for Distressed and Low-Wealth Communities

he lion’s share of our nation’s persistent high poverty counties is located in the rural South. The challenges local residents face are monumental and across the board -- economic,
educational, social, historical, cultural, and more. These are complex issues that cannot be overlooked. They are ones for which our land-grant system must accelerate its efforts to better understand and address through appropriate mechanisms and strategies. Thus, the SRDC will maintain a focus on the following over the next year:

1. ReadyCommunity: Building Disaster Resilient Places: In partnership with FEMA, the SRDC will continue to guide the piloting and evaluating of the recently developed ReadyCommunity process and materials. Toward that end, the Center will (a) coordinate monthly check-in calls with pilot teams; (b) recruit and train additional trainer cohort groups with a special emphasis given to 1890 Land Grant Partners; (c) refine the training materials

based on the pilot efforts; (d) facilitate the evaluation efforts in collaboration with the University of Kentucky and (e) present information about this program at appropriate national and regional meetings/conferences.

2. Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Education (CAPE): Work in concert with the other three RRDCs to conduct benchmark surveys, compile inventory of behavioral health measures, and develop and disseminate a toolkit for community assessment.

3. Examine the Opportunities for Poverty Research in the South: Partner with the Federal

Reserve Bank of Atlanta on a Poverty Summit, with invited presenters from both research and
Extension to explore a potential poverty research agenda for the coming years.

Capacity-Building and Other Support Activities

he SRDC will continue to undertake a variety of activities to keep its stakeholders
(especially our region’s 29 land-grant schools) aware of key rural development opportunities and activities. Collectively, these efforts are designed to help strengthen the capacity of our region’s land-grant schools to focus on high priority rural development research and Extension outreach efforts. Among these activities are to:
Provide assistance to the National Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Center
(NARDeP) initiative along with the three other Regional Rural Development Centers
Work with the Regional Rural Development Centers in sponsoring “Foundations of Practice in Community Development” training.
Provide leadership to the southern CRD State Program Leaders in establishing regional
CRD indicators.
Collaborate with the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP to provide capacity building opportunities across the land-grant system in community development.
Expand the research partnerships within the Southern Region by examining current multi- state research teams around rural development issues and seeking new opportunities to expand capacity.
Maintain active communication with land-grant faculty and other clientele in the South.
This will be done by the following channels:
(a) Provide timely information on a variety of rural development-relevant matters via the
SRDC website;
(b) Publish Around the South newsletter on a monthly basis, a newsletter that provides information on a host of rural development issues relevant to the South and nation;
(c) Publish Grant Connections six times a year, an electronic newsletter that offers information on grant funding available to support research and applied activities in the community/rural development area;
(d) Coordinate bi-monthly calls of Extension community development program leaders in the Southern region;
(e) Coordinate the annual meeting of the community development program leaders carried out as part of the Southern Region Program Leadership Network (PLN) conference, as well as work with the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) and Association of Extension Administrators (AEA) in managing all the logistics associated with the PLN meeting;
(f) Meet with the regional leadership of the 1862 and 1890 research and eXtension leaders in the South to help inform and guide their rural development efforts in their states;
(g) Host quarterly calls of the SRDC Board of Directors and the Technical and Operational Advisory Committee, and organize an annual face-to-face meeting of these two groups in the region to ensure that the Center continues to meet the research and Extension outreach needs of its primary audiences;
(h) Participate, as needed, in community/rural development efforts of land-grant institutions in the region;
(i) Maintain strong working ties and interactions with the SRDC’s sister Regional Rural Development Center staff, with NIFA and with other federal partners who can further advance the work of the SRDC in the Southern region;