The North Central Region is leading an effort to review, refresh and potentially revise the set of impact indicators that report on Extension Community, Resource, and Economic Development (CRED) work nationally. With the support of the North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA), the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), a plan for reviewing the indicators on a national level has begun and includes a national survey, webinar, and workshop.

The project aims to develop indicators that capture and report on meaningful activity and impact from all land grant institutions (LGI), including 1862s, 1890s, and 1994s. Currently, regional impact indicators from the 1862 and 1890 LGIs are collected annually and reported in the North Central and Southern regions. This effort seeks to engage all regions and LGIs and work toward common indicators that are useful and used by all LGIs. It will also address current efforts and initiatives, such as expanding audiences to underserved populations and marginalized groups.

The first step in this process was conducting a national survey to assess how the current impact indicators are used. The national indicators survey, conducted in April 2024, asked faculty and staff from LGIs (primarily Extension and evaluation) to share their perspectives on how Cooperative Extension measures the impact of community, resource, and economic development programs.

The results of the national survey were shared in a webinar held on May 2, 2024, entitled, Extension CRED Impact Indicators – Review, Refresh, Revise. Hosted by NCRCRD, presenters Scott Chazdon, Consultant and Retired Evaluation Specialist, University of Minnesota Extension; Anne H. Silvis, Assistant Dean, Community and Economic Development, University of Illinois Extension; and Michael Wilcox, Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development, Purdue Extension and Associate Director, NCRCRD provided context and history to the indicators, summarized the survey results, and shared the plan for developing new and more relevant indicators. Well-attended (60 attendees/108 registrants), the webinar provided an opportunity to open the discussion to a larger audience.

The real work to revise the indicators will begin at the Community Development Extension Impact Retreat on May 14-15, 2024, at the Red Lake Nations College site in Minneapolis, MN. This retreat aims to create new and improved ways for 1862, 1890, and 1994 land-grant institutions to expand the reach of their impact stories in inclusive and culturally relevant ways. Representatives from all regions will be in attendance. The resulting indicators will be shared at the National Community Development Program Leaders meeting in Houston, Texas, at the 2024 NACDEP (National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals) conference. The final output will be a Community Development evaluation toolbox including the indicators, instructions on implementing best practices to collect the quantitative indicators and craft impact vignettes, an appendix with relevant documents, and a resource list containing research references and evaluation-related tools.

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