Kenny is currently serving as an intern for University of Missouri Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program specifically assigned the task of program evaluation. From 2005 through 2009 the ExCEED program partnered with 5 rural “communities” (ranged from a single community to multi-county regions) to identify and implement strategies focused on place-based assets and strategies for economic development. ExCEED is a multi-disciplinary program that cuts across all Extension program areas and focuses on revitalizing rural economies through alternative approaches to attraction-based economic development. Outcomes for the ExCEED include: building awareness of entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy; assisting communities in supporting, encouraging and facilitating entrepreneurship (youth and adult); leadership development; enhancing the community’s economic base and quality of life; development of vibrant rural economies; and, facilitating new collaborations between Extension and communities throughout Missouri. Engagement activities included formation of a local leadership team, visioning and strategic plan development, data analysis, and education/training.
The project’s in-depth evaluation, using the Community Capitals Framework (Flora and Flora 2004) as the lens, looked at the impact that the engagement had on the community/region’s economy; the value and impact of Extension’s faculty and programs; and, what initiatives did or didn’t work and why. The evaluation obtained data through three sources: quarterly and annual project reports, interviews with community members and members of the project leadership team, and an in-depth debriefing with the project leader.
Sharon Gulick, ExCEED Director and Kenny Sherin presented the results of the evaluation at the 2010 meeting of the Community Development Society.
Together For Hope
Kenny is a member of the national leadership team for Together for Hope. He has facilitated goal setting and is implementing an evaluation process for the projects. Together for Hope is a faith-based organization committed to partner with rural areas impacted by persistent poverty. Their goal is to bring people out of poverty by establishing long-term relationships, listening, learning and walking alongside local leaders in order to affect change and break the cycle of economic disparity.
Together for Hope started in 2001 and partners with counties located in five regions (Appalachia, Black Belt, Mississippi River Delta, Rio Grande Valley, and High Plains) and include seven states (Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and South Dakota). Because of the diversity of place and cultures, Together for Hope quickly adopted a place-based development approach.
Together for Hope has gathered a network of partners and collaborators to work toward their goal. Together for Hope collaborates with University Extension programs, private foundations, USDA Rural Development, churches, individuals and other public and private organizations.
Together for Hope uses entrepreneurial development, business incubators, youth development, health initiatives, housing programs, and sports programs, including swimming lessons. Practices have evolved with the experiences of the various counties. Successful practices are shared and adopted appropriately in other communities to help with efforts of sustainability.
The Community Development Society’s Principles of Good Practice were woven into the fabric of this ministry organization from the very beginning. Many of the people involved have developed and/or attended the Community Development Academy hosted by the University of Missouri or have otherwise acquired community development skills. Passionate people, driven by their faith, using the tools of community development, have a positive impact on their communities. Kenny collaborated with Doris Littrell for a Promising Practices Session on Together for Hope at the 2010 Community Development Society Conference in New Orleans.
Dr. Mary Grigsby, his advisor had this to say about Kenny. “It is wonderful to work with Kenny. He is able to do both quantitative and qualitative research. His dissertation research will explore the changing historic role of the rural church in rural communities with an interest in the role of churches in improving the social and economic circumstances of those in the community and the extent to which curriculums of seminaries are designed to prepare the rural clergy to work effectively in rural communities. Kenny is a Baptist Minister and advocates a socially conscious and involved role for the rural clergy. When he first contacted me to express an interest in the Ph.D. program, something he said impressed me. Kenny said he wanted to “gain skills to help rural people help themselves.” This desire is consistently and clearly reflected in how Kenny uses his time, energy and capabilities. He has a calling to help the rural poor and rural communities to thrive.”
The Community Development Society provides leadership to professionals and citizens across the spectrum of community development. Members have multiple opportunities to learn what’s new in the profession, to exchange ideas, to obtain the most current research and reference information available and to share professional expertise. Their annual conference, publications, and listservs offer:
- Professional development
- Information on initiatives and job opportunities
- Recognition for outstanding contributions and achievements
- Opportunities for discussion and debate
- CDS members represent a variety of fields: education, health care, social services, government, utilities, economic development practitioners, citizen groups, and more.
Over eighty percent of members practice in the United States with the remaining members coming from nearly 32 different countries around the globe.