RFA: ECOP Health and Workforce Program Action Teams: Resilient Economies and Community Health (REACH)

ELIGIBILITY: Competitive opportunity available to ALL Land-grant universities (LGUs) (1862, 1890, 1994) by completing a simple online application.

The Extension Foundation in partnership with the ECOP Health and Workforce Program Action Teams, is offering two opportunities to apply and be selected to pilot a community development initiative in a community of their choosing. More specifically, successful applicants will have the opportunity to pilot test how Cooperative Extension can catalyze a community-driven initiative to foster entrepreneurship, workforce development, and social determinants of health using a model developed by the Innovation Collective and supported by a corporate partnership. The Innovation Collective is already showing success in Idaho, Florida, and Texas as measured by the number of attendees at community events and start-up businesses formed. 

The goal of the pilot is to implement the first year of the 3-year Innovation Collective process to discover its applicability to the work of Cooperative Extension professionals who are catalyzing community health, entrepreneurship and workforce development.

AWARD AMOUNT: There are two opportunities: 

Opportunity One:  

  • $50,000 scholarship for participation in the next cohort of cities implementing the Innovation Collective’s process plus $50,000 to cover an Extension professional’s time in leading the one-year pilot and airfare for participation in one required event (March 2023 – February 2024)  No indirect costs are allowed. (Total Value is $100,000)

Opportunity Two: 

  • $50,000 scholarship for participation in the March cohort for the Innovation Collective program described below. No funding for Extension professional time. (Total Value is $50,000)

SUMMARY: Innovation Collective’s program and support is scholarshipped for the two pilot winners and includes support and resources for both Extension and it’s board/supporters to map, launch, and grow their communities:

  • Series of live monthly one-hour cohort online coaching sessions for local leads based on community cadence, covering: 
    • How to identify your innovation vertical through strengths and ecosystem mapping
    • Setting your community up for success
    • Building a stakeholder coalition
    • Monthly Fireside Chats: including training of proper interview skills, choosing speakers, and then inspiring the community with their local heroes
    • Bi-monthly Coffee & Concepts meetups where community members take their big ideas out of their head and work on them together 
    • Monthly reporting
    • Understanding and identifying stages of growth: staffing, capital, and placemaking needs
    • How to paint your community’s Picture of Success and Roadmap (three year plan)
    • How to secure funding for Level 2
  • Access to sequence of on-demand event format and soft skills guides, webinars, and quizzes including:
    • Fireside Chats
    • Coffee & Concepts 
    • Local Outreach
    • Facilitation
    • Securing sponsors
    • Securing stakeholder coalition
    • Monthly reporting 
    • Picture of Success development
    • Stakeholder management
  • Monthly half-hour one-on-one online coaching sessions
  • Live one-hour cohort online coaching sessions for local sponsors/funders on: 
    • Setting your local lead up for success
    • Building your stakeholder coalition
    • Unlocking real estate 101
    • Investment clubs and angel investing 101
    • Identifying the case to level up
  • Plug and Play rolling member and marketing services so each community has a compelling offering and promotional support: 
    • Own community webpage on IC website
    • Own community channel on IC Eventbrite to list events
    • Templates for event marketing collateral
    • Own community ICx Facebook group with weekly scheduled posts
    • Global monthly Insider email newsletter flagging event cadence, full of inspiration and tips with potential to feature entrepreneurs
    • Promotion of community stories on IC social channels
    • Opportunity to feature local success stories in national marketing program
    • Eight free tickets per annum for community members to any IC Story Summit (travel and accommodation not included)
    • ICx and Level 1 event licenses
  • Access to tools and templates for local leads to run their communities effectively: 
    • Access to on-demand content via learning management system with guides, videos, and quizzes
    • Access to detailed project management template mapping tasks and timings for all key experiences
    • Access to Slack for cohort and IC coaching messaging
  • Templates for your local Facebook Page, flyers, EventBrite,  and Customized Monthly Insider Newsletter

Level 1 also kicks off with a two-day in-person training for local leads in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Hotel, local transfers, and meals are included (Airfare not included, but can be paid out of the staff time award):

Day 1: 

  • Overview of approach
  • Strengths mapping
  • Key events training and role play
  • Live Fireside Chat experience
  • Cohort networking opportunity

Day 2:

  • Coffee and Concepts facilitation training
  • Outreach and story-telling training
  • Local launch brainstorm
  • Tools training

Outcomes expected at the end of the year include:

  • Measurable community support around entrepreneurial start-ups and building a culture within the city that accepts and promotes that
  • Measureable commitment to a vertical/center of gravity that your city/community focuses its energy on for start-ups. This is a theme or focus which the city already has some energy around and are committed to expanding.
  • A high percentage of the population attending events that inspire entrepreneurs and community members to flourish and grow.
  • A growing number of repeat participants at Fireside Chats and Coffee & Concepts, discussing ideas and collaborating

Years Two and Three are not covered in the Pilot, but would include: 

  • Three day in-person training for local leads 
  • Two-day Story Summits with speakers sharing their stories with your communities
  • Eight week in-person skills training pathways throughout the year 
  • Monthly knowledge-sharing sessions with local experts
  • Quarterly online Ask Me Anything sessions with global experts
  • Opportunities for local entrepreneurs to present at the Global Pitch Day
  • Creating a physical space to encourage co-working, collaboration, and creation. This would act as a cornerstone “third place” for your community
  • Starting an investment club: your local venture capitalists and angel investors who are interested in investing into their local community start ups
  • A membership system that will allow your program to self sustain after year three
  • Hosting a large scale Think Big Festival; complete with tech carnival, proper Think Tank for the community, and speaker series.
  • As a community, your need for years 2 and 3 is to raise $25,000 for the coaching and licensing fee of Innovation Collective. This could be a grant, corporate sponsorship, or public funding by the city/county government. 


Apply for both opportunities by December 8th, 2022 by 11:59 PM PT [https://registry.extension.org/223205016126946]

PDF of Application Questions: Available Here

All Land-Grant Universities are eligible to apply.

Program cohort begins March 1, 2023 – February 28, 2024

For questions, please contact Roger Rennekamp at rogerrennekamp@extension.org



About Innovation Collective

Since 2013, IC has worked with people from all walks of life to find and unleash their creative power to change their lives, communities, economies and the world. We do this in overlooked places that we transform into innovation engines. Our goal is to partner with a community, identify an innovation vertical/center of gravity, and drive energy and inspiration towards an entrepreneurial ecosystem that starts through a series of unique grassroots community learning and launching experiences. 

About ECOP Workforce Program Action Team

Established in 2020 the Workforce PAT, led by Extension Directors/Administrators and Educators across the US helps coordinate programming focused on Workforce Development across the Cooperative Extension System (CES). The Workforce PAT  looks to demonstrate mechanisms of multi-state program leadership for issues important in Extension programming, identify and develop model programs and identify partners to support program development and implementation. Success within each of the PATs revolve around national program development and cooperation, and partner/collaborator development.

The Workforce PAT goals are to increase the CES readiness and capacity for innovation and implementation by connecting skills, tools, resources and partners that can expand and deepen local impact at a national scale, and engage partners and networks supporting all 1862, 1890 and 1994 LGU’s to reinforce CES as a leader in inclusive on-the-ground implementation.

About ECOP Health Program Action Team

Cooperative Extension’s Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being is a community of Extension personnel and their partners united by their shared commitment to advancing health equity and well-being.  Members work together to support the implementation of Cooperative Extension’s National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being (2021) to ensure that all people can be as healthy as they can be. They accomplish their work by promoting the adoption of healthy behaviors while catalyzing collective action aimed at creating community conditions that allow residents to thrive. The Collective also serves as a Program Action Team of the ECOP Program Committee.

About Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members.