New Partnerships, New Investments
Cooperative Extension is also engaging more frequently in building strategic partnerships with other health- related colleges and academic medical centers. Today, partnerships between Cooperative Extension and colleges of public health, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, social work, medicine, and dentistry are commonplace. Jointly funded positions between these colleges and Cooperative Extension have become a way for Cooperative Extension to obtain needed expertise and the partner colleges to expand their community outreach portfolio. External partnerships with government, business, schools, and the nonprofit sector are also becoming more prevalent. In 2014, Cooperative Extension was provided with funding from the CDC to implement strategies in high-obesity communities to increase access to healthier foods and promote physical activity. Today fifteen states are involved in this program. In 2018 and 2019, Cooperative Extension received funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop and disseminate training and technical assistance for rural communities related to addressing opioid issues. Many of these partnerships were enabled by capacity and competitive funding made available by the USDA-NIFA. Additionally, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has provided funding to the National 4-H Council for a “Well Connected Communities” Initiative through which Extension staff establish local coalitions that develop and implement action plans to address public health priorities. In addition to supporting coalition-building
activities in communities across the nation, RWJF is also investing in systems change interventions across the Cooperative Extension System to support its work aimed at ensuring that all people have “a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” Major advances resulting from this initial investment by RWJF include the hiring of an Extension Health Director, identification of institutional contacts for
health and well-being at each land grant institution, and the creation of an online professional community to facilitate collaboration and peer learning among Extension faculty and staff. Recently, a private gift from the Molina Foundation is funded fellowships for two Extension professionals to work with the health director to further advance capacity-building efforts across Cooperative Extension.
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