In 2010, Kansas PRIDE communities worked with 441 partner organizations, and completed more than 1,000 community improvement projects statewide. With the help of a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, K-State Research and Extension soon will introduce Community Development Academies.
PHOTO: Lona DuVall (standing) participates in a Community Coaching Academy activity. She is director of business retention for the Finney County Economic Development Corporation.
Coaching Strategies Energize Kansas Communities
A coach's support can make the difference in winning or losing, success or failure. Most coaches also know to encourage players and participants to develop their skills and abilities to grow as individuals and as a team.
In today's world, coaches wear many hats and foster success in a variety of settings from the football field to a debate tournament -- and now community and economic development.
With the help of a matching $80,000 grant from USDA Rural Development, K-State Research and Extension is coordinating the introduction of Community Development Academies (CDA) to bring together community stakeholders -- leaders as well as residents who don’t consider themselves leaders.
The team conducts a community assessment, identifies stakeholders, and creates strategies to involve their broader community in efforts to benefit the area.
The next step is the Community Coaching Academy. A coach, who was not a part of the original team, works with the community team members to help them reflect on strategies, fine-tune their process, and stay on target.
By training community development agents and other professionals through the Community Coaching Academy, the community teams leaving the CDA have a coach to help sustain and support their work. The coach can help the team reflect on effective community engagement strategies and process, said Dan Kahl, coordinator for the educational effort.
Community Development Academies have been offered in Independence, Hays, and Manhattan. A fourth, sponsored by state and collaborative partners, was held in Garden City, said Kahl, who notes a growing interest by communities — and enthusiasm from coaches.
Lona DuVall, director of business retention, Finney County Economic Development Corporation, put it this way: "I love this!"
DuVall, who attended the coaching academy in Hays and then led an effort to bring an academy to Garden City, praises the concept because it reaches out to citizens who may not consider themselves community leaders.
"Community coaching gives people a voice, the confidence to speak up, and the courage to get involved," DuVall said. "Sessions encouraged us to consider new concepts and to think about our communities in new ways."
She explained that discussing community capital -- social, economic, or natural such as the rolling prairie or a recreational lake -- prompted others to chime in "Hey, we’ve got that!" or "I never thought about it that way."
"The community coaching sessions are the most lively and encouraging community development sessions I’ve attended," said DuVall.
She shares her excitement with others and is already at work building teams and encouraging new participants.
K-State partners in the project include the Center for Engagement and Community Development; the Kansas PRIDE Program, which is co-administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce; and the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development; as well as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka.
"Our goal," said Kahl, "is to create a network of community coaching professionals who can help support ongoing community development efforts across the state."