Translating Federal Opportunities into Local Resources: Ada Jobs Foundation

View this Publication

For the second case study in our What’s Working in Rural series, we examine how rural communities with limited staffing and resources can understand, prepare for, and compete for finite federal funds.

Our case study highlights The Ada Jobs Foundation (AJF), a nonprofit organization focused on the economic development of Ada, the county seat of Pontotoc County in rural southern Oklahoma. The Foundation’s goal is to bring sectors together to create environments for business growth and workforce development in the area. To accomplish its goals, AJF collaborates with the wider region and manages a variety of projects, from entrepreneurship support to housing and community development.

According to AJF staff, one key element of work undergirds their successful collaboration efforts: translation. A collaboration builder needs to effectively translate partner organizations’ goals to each other to build an aligned coalition, translate the coalition’s goals to the funder’s goals to design a competitive project, and translate the funder’s process and requirements to submit a successful proposal.

AJF focuses on:

  • Translating community goals: know what people care about and how they connect
  • Translating funder goals: know what the agency is trying to do and how it aligns with the community’s goals
  • Translating the process: take advantage of technical assistance resources

Download the case study for more details and three tips for putting this practice to work.

related resources

Megaphone overlayed with sunflower.
National Young Farmers Coalition rapid response effort

USDA’s Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program was a historic funding opportunity for community-led land access initiatives across the country. The National Young Farmers Coalition mobilized a rapid response effort to ensure organizations working on land access, particularly BIPOC-led and low-resource, knew about the funding opportunity and had support to apply.

building block cubes icon
Build from Current Assets

Local economic development approaches concentrate first on identifying and building on the area’s existing people, place, business, and organizational assets to increase both well-being and equity outcomes.

Checklist icon
Organize an Action Infrastructure

Communities have the local and regional institutions, policies, systems, data, information, media, and resources needed to establish, align and achieve priorities that increase both well-being and equity.

team standing together icon
Design for Everyone to Thrive

Local leaders intentionally design community and economic development efforts to improve outcomes for people disadvantaged due to historic or ongoing economic, racial, age, gender, or cultural discrimination.

magnifying class icon
Act as a Region

Communities persistently analyze, develop strategies and act together within and across sensible and workable regions to address shared issues, challenges, and opportunities and achieve outcomes at a productive scale.

dollar bill stacked icon
Ready Rural Capital Access and Flow

Public, private, and philanthropic financial capital and durable funding streams are reliably available, easily accessible and affordable, and consistently and strategically invested in rural people, places, organizations, and economies.

Aspen CSG’s consultant Rebecca Huenink led the writing process for our What’s Working in Rural series. We are grateful for her contributions.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
Latest From Aspen CSG
outdoor rec report page cover
Mapping a New Terrain: Call to Action

As new rural outdoor recreation economies take root, we can meet this moment by improving how we do outdoor recreation development to better support rural families, businesses, and workers, create more sustainable and equitable economic systems, and improve local health and wellbeing.

Wealth Creation in Rural and Indigenous Places

Sep. 19th, 2023, 2PM

Learn how rural practitioners are advancing equitable prosperity and economic development in a way that embraces and strengthens the unique assets of rural regions.

WealthWorks: A Powerful Tool for Thriving Rural Places

WealthWorks is an approach to doing economic development differently that inspired and continues to inform the Thrive Rural Framework. Learn more about the WealthWorks approach.

Broadband technician working
Broadband Resources

A collection of broadband resources for funding, advocacy, and community program opportunities for rural community leaders.

collaborating partners
How To Organize a Rural Action Infrastructure

Discussion with rural leaders on the opportunity equitable outdoor recreation economies pose to rural areas.

Queer youth in celebratory gathering
Rural and Native Celebrations of the LGBTQ+ Community

A collection of rural, queer organizations and stories about rural communities and Native nations celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Explore these moments to learn more about how queer people are celebrated in rural spaces. 

Brookings logo
Rural Policy Resources

A collection of resources provided by the Brookings Institution emerging from their rural research.