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Initiative Details


CivicLab maintains a principle of remaining model-agnostic. We understand that partnerships must serve their communities and/or regions and, as such, may have stakeholders, structures, policies, and practices that are unique to them. We embrace complexity, uniqueness, and wholeness and seek to be inclusive in eligibility. However, to fully benefit from this initiative, a partnership must:

  • Be a partnership that brings together key leaders and stakeholders from the public, private, and social sectors to improve higher education and/or workforce outcomes. These tend to be partnerships that have taken responsibility for the community and/or regional well-being, have strong convening power, and can set and pursue goals and strategies that involve multiple organizations and sectors. They also tend to focus on many industry sectors, education and training programs, and/or social supports to address barriers that prevent specific populations from achieving social mobility.

      • Note: Single organizations applying to complete work within their own organization and transactional partnerships between single sector organizations are generally ineligible.

  • Include at least one higher education institution or workforce training provider. These may include community colleges, technical colleges, universities, and training providers that issue non-degree industry credentials. There is no limit to how many higher education and/or workforce providers may be included in the partnership.

      • A note about K-12: K-12 schools and districts may be part of the partnership, but they cannot replace the presence of a higher education and/or workforce provider. Further, the workplan must speak to improving higher education and/or workforce outcomes beyond improving access and, as such, must involve colleges, universities, and/or workforce providers in the collaborative workplan.

  • Have a lead applicant with a 501(c)3 tax status.

  • Be a partnership located within and serving a rural community and/or region located in the United States. There are no restrictions on the geographic or population size of the place – it can be a single town or a multi-county region spanning multiple states. Whatever the community or region, the partnership must have the ability to impact the higher education and/or workforce training system and be defined as rural. See below to learn how we are defining rural for this initiative.

  • Have key stakeholders in the partnership ready to engage in systems-building work, improving the ways they work together to address complex social challenges.

  • Complete the required baseline data form for each higher education institution and workforce training provider in the partnership and commit to interim and final reporting, disaggregated by age and ethnicity, on selected student outcomes.

  • Work on collaborative strategies at the system and program level that benefit low-income people in rural communities and/or regions.

What Selected Partnerships Receive

Selected partnerships will receive:

  • Up to $30,000 in convening and incubation funds. These funds are intended to gather guiding and working teams in the community/region, support the coordination of system-level work by the lead organization, and/or serve as incubating dollars for rapid prototyping of strategies.

  • The Stakeholder Engagement Process Lab. This day-and-a-half workshop provides tools, frameworks, and work sessions for partnerships to strengthen their relationship-based, system-building work. Each partnership will bring their guiding team (a team of key stakeholders) to the lab. The lab will take place in Columbus, IN (pending COVID-19). Partial travel costs will be covered.

  • The Equitable Systems Building Design Lab. This day-and-a-half workshop provides tools, frameworks, and work sessions to build a partnership’s ability to dissolve social problems by redesigning the underlying system. Each partnership will bring their guiding team (a team of key stakeholders) to the lab. The lab will take place in Columbus, IN (pending COVID-19). Partial travel costs will be covered.

  • Individual Coaching Sessions. Each partnership will receive no fewer than four virtual individual coaching sessions with CivicLab to extend, support, and apply the concepts shared in each lab.

  • Cohort Learning Sessions. All selected partnerships will participate in group virtual learning and support sessions, focused on sharing ideas and challenges and providing cohort-wide assistance in key areas.

  • One-on-one support to develop and execute a collaborative workplan. CivicLab will provide one-to-one support, with no limits, to support the development and implementation of the collaborative workplan finalized during Phase 2 of the initiative.

  • Individual Technical Assistance. Estimated at a value of $75,000 per partnership, each community/region will receive specific, contextualized, just-in-time technical assistance that supports their workplan through one or more providers in the Talent Hub Technical Assistance Provider Network.

  • Engagement in communication and elevation efforts. Throughout the initiative, CivicLab will provide opportunities to elevate each partnership using several communication methods, bringing greater attention to the people, places, organizations, and solutions within each partnership.

CivicLab prioritizes long-term partnerships with fellow practitioners that extend beyond funded initiatives. As such, in addition to the items listed above, each partnership may choose to join the National Talent Network and/or pursue the Talent Hub Designation.