Missouri-Illinois Step Up to Leadership Program Impact Evaluation

PI:Adams, J. (University of Missouri)
Co-PIs: Majee, W. (University of Missouri), Silvis, A. (University of Illinois) & Donahue, G. (Missouri Association for Community Action)
Awarded: $19,150

Project Abstract

In the face of growing challenges in rural and inner city areas of America, policymakers, academics, and practitioners are increasingly advocating for a more homegrown approach that seeks to identify and build upon internal community assets, such as community leadership and entrepreneurship capacity. Through a mixed-method analysis of a community leadership program, this project will assess the impact of the Step Up to Leadership program on participants’ leadership skills and how the skills strengthen community economic development. Step Up to Leadership is a University of Missouri Extension developed curriculum used in Missouri and Illinois. Data will be obtained from participant surveys, document review, and in-depth interviews with graduates of the program, facilitators and community members knowledgeable of the leadership program. Our major goals are to demonstrate that (1) Step Up to Leadership has significant impact on the participants and their communities’ socio-economic well-being; and (2)collaborative initiatives between states and organizations hold promise in producing sustainable rural development. Another goal of the project is to use the data to redesign the program to better meet the needs of communities and facilitate collaboration with others states.