Building Grantsmanship Capacity in Underserved Communities Southern Rural Development Center (hosted by Mississippi State University) THE IMPETUS Grant funders want to support underserved communities, yet these communities often lack the knowledge and tech- nical expertise to take advantage of these opportunities. 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) are in an ideal position to bridge this gap with communities, yet some 1890 staff also struggle with these skills. THE WORK To teach teams of 1890 LGU professionals and community members how to find, apply for, and manage grants to fund projects that address underserved communities’ most pressing needs. The Southern Rural Development Center, one of four Region- al Rural Development Centers funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, trained five teams of five people each (including at least one 1890 Extension profes- sional, one community member, and one 1890 student). Each team focused on a selected community in order to open doors to financial support for that community. This training series is unique because the teams have a real community identified along with a real problem they want to address—a tangible connection to learning that makes abstract principles more concrete. The training is separated into distinct modules taking place over time (approximately two weeks between), allowing the teams to apply a skill and get immediate feedback, rather than having to unpack a longer training received over a short period (such as a two-day intensive training).
WITH NTAE GRANT SUPPORT The project coaches chose five teams out of 10 applicants and worked with them to apply real-world grant skills to a specific tangible community need. Six training sessions were conducted, and each team was provided a place to create and share the different components as they were developed. The coaches will meet monthly with the teams at the close of the training series to provide feedback on proposals the teams are developing. This enables the five teams to engage in peer learning as they hear what other teams are doing. “Rachel and John are designing projects that will allow the 1890 institutions to fully participate in grant programs that will bring more funds to underserved communities.” —Dr. Dyremple Marsh, NTAE Catalyst THE VISION Underserved communities will increasingly have the funding they need to tackle such things as workforce development, health equity and well-being, broadband access, digital skill building, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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