- Author: Wendy Powers
We wrap up the 5-location Information Sessions on Friday of this week, with 3 of those five sessions taking place the last portion of the week. It has been nice to get out and see those whom I don't often get a chance to see. Also, there have been some new folks that I hadn't met in person yet. For the summer, these five sessions took the place of county office and REC visits. Once summer ends, I will have to assess my schedule. However, I welcome any invitations to come out to your area and meet with the local team. Visits can be as long or short as the hosts' desire and be anything from an informal conversation around a table to an action-packed agenda with tight timelines. For me, the emphasis is on the connection and not the format.
Back in the office, I'm working to diversify our funding sources and build resiliency against the uncertainty of state and federal funding sources. The goals are to 1) develop capacity throughout the state, reducing the reality of too much work with too few people, and 2) provide more resources to do the work. I'm not alone if the effort; a number of us are working towards these goals, not for our individual programs but the broader UC ANR. The strategy is to identify opportunities for specific programs and secure additional resources. By so doing, the tide rises to lift all boats. Some examples include:
- Securing a $500,000 gift to expand the CalNat program, with a goal of building on that gift for a long-term sustained expansion of the program;
- Secured funding of $500,000 that was matched by the UC President's Office to provide the UC Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection, held by Georgios Vidalakis;
- Received $19M in state funding for structural improvements at 3 RECs plus Elkus Ranch, an amount that far exceeds all funds received previously for this purpose;
- Developed partnership agreements to co-fund 6 CE Advisor position and 2 CE Specialist positions. Partners included a state agency (2 positions), 2 UC campuses, one commodity group (2 positions), and two counties. An agreement is under review by a third county for a 7th CE Advisor position. Additional conversations with new partners are in various stages;
- Established 10 Community Education Specialist position, funded by CDFA, to work in Climate Smart Agriculture by leveraging our academic network;
- Worked with one County government officials to secure funding for FY18/19 and increase it in FY19/20, following three consecutive years without funding (other than space);
- Worked with one County government office to prevent removal of funding proposed as a result of a significant structural deficit in the County;
- Implemented new annual giving strategies, resulting in a total revenue increase of in FY18/19, compared to FY17/18;
- Establishment of funding campaigns to stabilize funding for Community Education Specialist positions in both 4-H and Master Gardener programs.
None of these successes happened overnight. Each required numerous conversations with donors or partners to determine common goals and establish a path forward. Following, continued maintenance of the relationship remains essential, requiring continuous time and effort.
The above accomplishments contribute to different 'slices' of our funding sources pie, making it perhaps appear as less significant accomplishments than say a $10M donation. Some of the above achievements represent Competitive Grants and Extramural Contracts, while others increase the County funds slice of the pie, and yet other strategies add to the Endowment Income slice. But that's part of the plan – to garner support for the breadth of work across UC ANR.
While not everyone feels a direct benefit from the efforts yet, over time everyone wins, even if it is in some small way (averting a funding crisis, maintenance of program support despite a flat state budget, one more person in the office delivering a program, etc.). No question that a $10M donation to a specific program or building fund is great, but I'm just as happy to spread the wealth a bit more even if it takes time for everyone to feel the victory. Like any condition change, this, too takes time.