Southern Rural Development Center

FY2013 Plan of Work

The SRDC’s 15-member Technical and Operational Advisory Committee (TOAC) met in
October 2012 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 and communities in the rural South.
TOAC continues to believe priorities remain relevant to

SRDC’s Three priorities remain relevant to the

needs in the rural South

that SRDC’s three overarching the needs and issues in the rural
South. TOAC provided the SRDC staff with its
recommendations on how to fine tune its proposed FY13 activities during its fall face-to-face meeting. On behalf of the TOAC, the chair of this advisory group formally presented the proposed FY13 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 FY13 by the SRDC.

PRIORITY 1: Fostering Civic-Minded Communities

he 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. To date, five of those states have formally launched and completed the initial process. Additionally, four counties in Mississippi launched Tide through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Throughout this time, a rich collection of associated data has been gathered in order to better understand how to foster civic engagement. During 2013, the SRDC plans the following activities to continue support of this work: (a) Facilitate the work of the multi-state research

team: Through a grant 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 developing. (b) Develop a series of impact reports for phase two sites: At the close of the phase one projects, the SRDC team visited each of the sites to learn about how Tide has impacted the communities it touched. From these, a series of phase one impact reports were developed and posted to the website. This process will be repeated for phase two sites during 2013.

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. SERA 37: The New Hispanic South: The SRDC will continue to serve as a conduit for advancing the work of the SERA-37 team in FY13. The Center will undertake three specific efforts in support of the team’s activities. First, the SRDC web manager will provide guidance to the group as it seeks to strengthen its SERA-37 website. Second, the Center will guide the team in the possible preparation of a proposal to secure formal renewal of the SERA effort by the Extension and Experiment Station leadership in the South. Third, continue to help support multi- state training (including webinars) designed to enhance the ability of Extension educators to proactively respond to the diverse needs of the Hispanic/Latino population in their states.

4. Leadership for the 21st Century: Research & Practice: The Center has contracted with Dr. Ken Pigg, Emeritus Professor at the University of Missouri, to produce a series of research briefs on the topic of community leadership. The SRDC will complete the series in 2013. The committee will work with Dr. Pigg and the SRDC to ensure that each brief highlights the implications of the research for practitioners. Moreover, every effort will be made to incorporate on the ground stories that add value to the topic being addressed in a given leadership brief.


5. Inventory Organizations Engaged in Civic Dialogue: A number of key institutions and organizations are now embracing the work of civic engagement within the region as well as nationally. The SRDC will work with the Southern Growth Policy Board to seek to identify key organizations that are linked to this important work in an effort to create a network of resources available to strengthen these efforts in the South.

6. Examine the Opportunities to Update the Black Belt Region Study: Working with the University of Kentucky, explore the opportunity to update the Black Belt Region study that documents persistent poverty concerns and issues in the South.

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. Cashing in on Business Opportunities Curriculum: The SRDC has recently updated Cashing in on Business Opportunities curriculum, designed to help improve the vitality and sustainability of home-based, micro- and entrepreneurial businesses. The SRDC will work to market this valuable product through social media, webinars, and face-to-face opportunities.

2. 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 2 new educational products in FY13: Social Networking Basics and Search Engine Optimization.

3. 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.

4. Expand the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Initiative to New Regional Sites/ Support/Guide SET in 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 three years. In addition, SRDC/USDA RD/Purdue personnel will work to expand SET to new states in 2013. As such, the Center will carry a diversity of activities in FY13 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.
New SET modules: Complete the addition of 2-3 new SET modules that supplement the core modules that are currently part of SET.
Webinars: Conduct webinars on timely topics that can help strengthen the work of the regional teams and/or training teams.
Communications with the External Evaluation Team (University of Cincinnati): Maintain on- going interactions with the evaluation team to help facilitate its timely communications activities with SET states and select regions.
Expansion of SET to new states/regions (Phase IV): Pursue the expansion of SET into more states as part of Phase IV. This includes: (a) the preparation of a pre-application form for interested states; (b) the evaluation of the pre-applications and selection of states; (c) the development of a revised application form for use by Phase IV states to distribute to counties in their states; (d) the hosting of a webinar to inform Phase IV states of the key activities they need to complete over the next several months; (e) the review of completed applications from Phase IV states and the submission of recommendations to USDA RD as to which regions to approve for engagement in SET; (f) the organizing and hosting of a national train the trainer workshop for Phase IV state training team members; and (g) the launching of SET training activities in the Phase IV regions.
Specialized data reports: Coordinate the development of socio-demographic and cluster analysis data needed to support the SET efforts through Phase III. Work with Purdue Center for Regional Development on the data needs for Phase IV.
Presentations: Present highlights of SET at various national and regional meetings

5. eXtension Community of Practice “Entrepreneurs and Their Communities” Effort SRDC will continue to provide fiscal responsibility to the “Entrepreneurs and their Communities” Community of Practice (CoP) as part of the National eXtension system. Moreover, appropriate staff will participate in conference calls and face to face meetings of the CoP leadership. Finally we will help identify and recruit individuals to present the monthly webinar series that is sponsored by this Community of Practice as well as help promote the events sponsored by the group.


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 an additional trainer cohort groups; (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. Delta Rural Revitalization Initiative: The SRDC will provide leadership and coordination to the MS Delta Rural Revitalization program during this last year in which funds will remain available for this effort. The initiative is targeted to 18 counties located in the MS Delta Region. Over the coming year, the SRDC will: (a) partner with the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (nSPARC) to investigate the relationship between the current supply

of employees and job demand through a detailed analysis of commuting patterns, current workforce, and projected industrial structure of the region; and (b) work with the Mississippi State University Ag Economics Department to conduct a detailed economic impact analysis of the Delta region with a specific focus on the value of agricultural industries.

3. Delta Geographic Concentration Initiative (DGCI): The following activities will be carried out by the SRDC in its role as the principal evaluator for the Walton Family Foundation supported Delta Geographic Concentration Initiative: (a) Collaborate with the Purdue Center


for Regional Development: The SRDC will launch this important collaboration which will allow for enhanced data analysis and monitoring. (b) Monitor and Analyze Key Indicators: The SRDC will continue to monitor macro and core indicators on the DGCI pilot sites. These analyses will be used to evaluate progress by the intermediaries in reaching their key community and

economic development goals. (c) Maintain/Expand the Mid-South Data Library: The Center will continue to strengthen and expand the type of secondary data needed to support the work of the Walton Family Foundation and that of other intermediary organizations with whom the Foundations is working on the DGCI. Further, the SRDC will work to create a data dashboard to enhance the usability of the data. (d) Explore Strategies for Promoting Regional Economic Development: The SRDC will explore new ways to build capacity in the Delta region with an
emphasis on regional strategies.

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.
Develop a new Community Development 101 foundational training (pilot in Florida)
Provide leadership to the southern CRD State Program Leaders in establishing regional
CRD indicators.
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;