Translating Federal Opportunities into Local Resources: Ada Jobs Foundation

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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
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