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Athens County Community Improvement Challenge 2020

Athens County Community Improvement Challenge 2019 report

What is Athens County Together?

This is a yearlong annual program, which pairs teams of diverse community-based volunteers with Athens County staff and area stakeholders to assist citizens and communities with improvement efforts. This program aims to increase collaboration within communities county-wide and provide an open line of communication to discuss resources to address community needs.

The 2020 Athens County Together Program will use our new website to deliver guidance regarding development of community improvement projects for ACT Teams. Teams will register with the Athens County Planning Department by completing registration forms below. Additionally, each team member will need to register online at: mycommunityguide.org to access program materials.

The website is organized into 7 learning modules, which are accompanied by a corresponding practical guide. Lesson topics cover: team development and teamwork, assessment of your community, development of ideas and project design, community engagement, budgeting partnership and fundraising, laws and regulations, and marketing and communication. Each lesson contains a video, interview with an expert, short quiz, and task. Completion of the practical guide will walk individuals and teams through the project planning process. A completed practical guide for the team will serve as a funding request.

Sincere thanks to the Athens City-County Health Department and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supported the 2020 Athens County Together Program with Community Collaborative Learning Funds grant to develop the ACT website and engage Athens County Together participants in meaningful peer learning.

Why Participate?

Each Community Team will receive $2,050 from the Athens County Commissioners for implementation of a community improvement project. Upon submission of a community improvement 2020 Funding Request Form. Are there things in your community you would like to see improved? This program is an opportunity to use your social power to work to implement positive change.

Which communities can participate?

Athens County’s incorporated villages, census designated areas, and unincorporated communities are all encouraged to participate.      

Athens County Together 2020 Program Overview:
*Due to COVID-19 please read through the attached "ACT 2020 COVID-19 Update" document for program adjustment information*

ACT 2020 COVID-19 Update

1.   Assemble a team:

In order to participate each community will assemble a steering team of at least 7 community members. A leader or 2 should be identified for each group this leader will serve as the primary point of contact with county staff and the community team.

Each community’s steering team of at least 7 community members must include each of the following:

a.        an elected official (Mayor, Council Member, Township Trustee)

b.        a young adult (ages 11 to 19)

c.        an employed professional

d.        a retired person or senior citizen

e.        a person representing a local civic organization, if there are multiple   active civic organizations in your community please invite all to participate. Our 2017 experience revealed multiple groups working on similar efforts in the same community rarely collaborate, but there is ample opportunity for collaboration to increase impact of volunteer efforts.

f.         a person affiliated with a school (employee, teacher, PTO Member, etc.)

g.        an artist

Once the team has identified members, it will complete and submit the Athens County Together Registration Form to the Athens County Planning Department.

2.   Your Team’s Participation:
*Due to COVID-19 we realize the Athens County Together team-based work will be different than in years past and may present challenges. Please review the program adjustments*

Participation in ACT is serving on a diverse community-based team to work to develop and implement community improvement projects. Throughout the Community Improvement Challenge (2017-2019), teams met monthly in-person to develop plans for improvement project implementation. The 2020 program’s delivery via ACT’s website and accompanying Practical Guide are intended to streamline participation. The 2020 ACT program will not require a Team Practical Guide. Instead please complete the 2020 ACT Funding Request Form.
*The 2020 ACT Program requires participants to follow all applicable safety guidelines including social distancing and wearing of masks. When possible, meetings should be conducted virtually or remotely and must comply with all State of Ohio heath directives.*

2020 ACT Funding Request Form

Each team will determine their meeting schedule, content, and work flow.

Practical Guides can be worked on individually, collectively as a team or both. Each team will decide what works best. The practical guide has exercises to complete which correspond with each online lesson. A completed practical guide, will outline project(s) from ideation to implementation plan development. The Team will submit one fully completed Team Guide as a funding request to the Athens County Planning Department.

Example models of team participation:

A.  Team completes registration with Athens County and online. Each team member is provided hard and electronic copy of Practical Guide. Each team member completes Lesson 1 (Building your Team) and Lesson 2 (Community Knowledge) prior to the team’s in-person meeting. Team members bring their guides (Lessons 1 & 2 complete) to the team meeting and collectively create the Team’s Guide, based on the information exchanged with team members. The team then agrees to complete lesson 3 individually and use a meeting to discuss and record information in the Team’s Guide at next month’s meeting.

B.   Team completes registration with Athens County and online. Each team member is provided hard and electronic copy of Practical Guide. The Team agrees to meet the second Tuesday of each month and work through the Practical Guide as a group. The Team watches videos, takes the quiz, and completes Lesson 1 of the Team’s Master Guide as a group.

3.   Quarterly All Team Meetings: Meetings will rotate among participating communities (willing to host) or be held at the Athens County Extension Office. Please let us know if you are willing to host a meeting.
Attendance of All Team Meetings is important as this is the opportunity to interact with other teams and county staff, learn, and plan for the fourth quarter meeting.

ACT 2020 features Quarterly All Team Meetings:
*All Quarterly meetings have been cancelled due to COVID-19*

4.   Implementation: The team will choose at least one project to address a need or make an improvement and use their $2,050 of program participation funding for project implementation. Should additional funding be available teams will be notified ASAP.

5.   Funding Request: The team will submit a completed Team Practical Guide which is a project(s) plan for implementation. Projects must have support of key stakeholders involved. Please complete the 2020 ACT Funding Request Form to receive approval of your communities improvement project. Payment will be sent to the entity identified by the team, which could be a unit of local government or partnering nonprofit.

6.   Reporting: The team must submit receipts or canceled checks or other appropriate documentation to evidence funds were expended as planned. Without appropriate documentation funds must be returned. We are also happy to share photos and success stories on the Athens County Together website.

7.   Important Dates:

Team Registration Deadline (County Planning Department): March 27, 2020.
Registration Form

2020 All Team Quarterly Meetings: All CANCELLED

Funding Request Deadline - 2020 ACT Funding Request Form : October 16, 2020
Send completed Funding Request Form to athenscountytogether@gmail.com OR mail it to 280 W. Union St, Suite B, Athens, OH 45701

Records of funding expensed must be submitted by November 30, 2020