Coming Together to Promote Racial Understanding

Coming Together For Racial Understanding
Train-the-Trainer Workshop


In late 2016, the Extension Committee on Operations and Policy (ECOP) charged a small team of Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and non-Land Grant University professionals (referred to as a Rapid Response Team) with examining the current capacity of CES to respond to the need for dialogues to promote racial understanding and healing, and to provide recommendations on next steps for building CES capacity in this area. Following the April 2017 report to ECOP, the Rapid Response Team began work on exploring training options for civil dialogue on race relations, given the high consensus around this need in order to expand capacity. A team of 23 professionals both within and outside the Land Grant University system have been working in recent months to identify, organize, and refine a training process designed to prepare teams in participating states to serve as trainers within their own states.

The first step in building capacity for this work within CES will be to host a train-the-trainer event in which teams of 3 individuals from among the nation’s LGU Cooperative Extension Services will be invited to participate in a five day intensive training workshop. The workshop will prepare these participants to return home to their own states and prepare a larger cadre of CES personnel to lead dialogues. Then this larger state CES team will begin working within the communities they serve to facilitate dialogues on race relations on the local level. The result will be a stronger capacity within CES to assist with difficult conversations around race. This capacity will also serve well in assisting with other challenging topics that might arise in their day-to-day duties. Communities will benefit by having a well-trusted entity embedded within their communities to help navigate these challenging waters. Also, each community will follow up the conversations by developing a plan for doable actions that can help improve the racial climate within their respective places.


Content will address the basic competencies as identified by the Rapid Response Team. These are published: here
Agenda coming soon.

Who Should Attend

Train-the-trainer teams will consist of 3 individuals from each participating state, referred to as the State Coaching Team (SCT). Professionals from within 1862, 1890, and 1994 LGUs will be invited. These teams should be able to provide state level leadership and training for other CES staff. Specifically, these teams should collectively have these traits:

  • Have experience facilitating groups in communities and among peers to address pressing issues
  • Have experience in conflict management (interpersonal as well as group)
  • Demonstrate ability to regulate one’s own emotion as well as assist others, especially in moments of high tension
  • Demonstrate a willingness and ability to listen to understand.
  • Are comfortable working with diverse audiences, including people of different races/ethnicity, multi-generational groups, etc.
  • Reflect the diversity of the state (as a team)
  • Have time and are committed to leading training among CES staff in the year following the workshop and supporting this work into communities
  • Are comfortable joining a co-learner experience (as opposed to teacher/student model)
  • Are comfortable discussing issues around race, ethnicity, racism, racial equity
  • Are able to form and work effectively in teams
  • Are capable of forming partnerships on the state and community level
  • Can adapt to changing circumstances as communities progress

Pilot Process Overview

The pilot effort takes place over four phases. Each SCT should be committed to completing the entire pilot process with the support of its Extension Director/Administrator. The phases of the project are explained below:

  • Train the Trainer Workshop – The workshop is designed to prepare SCTs to lead the work of the subsequent phases of the pilot within their respective states. The three person SCT team is expected to participate fully in the entire week long workshop so they will be well prepared to lead the initiative at home.
  • CES Capacity Building Phase – The purpose of this phase is to expand the SCT project team by selecting and training a larger team of CES professionals interested in this work. Each SCT will work with the Extension Director/Administrator to recruit participants from among their respective CES colleagues in their home states. These participants will walk through the training and dialogue process modeled at the Train-the-Trainer event to help build capacity among the CES family. A minimum of 10 participants will be recruited per state for this phase. NOTE: Participants in this phase should be those willing and interested in this work rather than mandated, recognizing that this topic is one that not all CES professionals may be ready to lead.
  • Community Selection Phase: Once the larger CES team is trained, each team will select at least one community to participate in the pilot civic dialogue initiative. During this phase, the CES team will be responsible for:
    • Recruiting a community to participate
    • Conduct an “Are We Ready” visits (described in the training event)
    • Select at least one community for the pilot
  • Community Civil Dialogue Phase: The SCT will work alongside the other CES individuals that were trained in the Capacity Building Phase to implement one of two models that will be presented in the training in at least one community.


Coming Soon!

To Learn More About the ECOP Rapid Response Team