What Is Your Community's Story?
Every community has a story, each with its own conflicts and challenges to solve. A rural town in Virginia struggling to provide better access to healthcare. A county in Iowa with a high risk profile for substance abuse. An impoverished community in Oregon battling to improve a stagnant economy.
Today we are working with small and rural communities to help them address the challenges they're facing and re-write their own stories through robust and diverse data insights, and support from research scientists experienced in data science.
Who We Are
We are a partnership of five universities—the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, Iowa State University, and Oregon State University—funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pilot an initiative that will utilize data science to unravel complex, community challenges and advance economic mobility across Virginia, Iowa, and Oregon. Learn more about us.
Our combined work supports an initiative, “Towards A National Community Learning Network,” which will amplify the viability of Cooperate Extension professionals to discover opportunities and enable the integration of data-driven governance at local and state levels.
Through a three-state Community Learning Network comprised of academic researchers, local government representatives, and Cooperative Extension professionals, our mission is to take a data science-based approach to solve public issues related to economic mobility, ranging from food, health, and housing to poverty and workforce development.
Our work in Iowa, Oregon, and Virginia will establish a process for other states to launch similar programs, ultimately spreading data science in support of economic advancement and rural prosperity across the nation.
Creating Tomorrow's Cooperative Extension System
Our aspirational Community Learning Network will evolve the next-generation Cooperative Extension System (CES) capable of engaging with county- and state-level stakeholders to take a deeper data-driven approach to solve economic mobility challenges unique to each community.
This work will build core competencies rooted in data science for CES professionals to tackle the most challenging issues facing our communities today with the cutting-edge tools and thinking of tomorrow.
Iowa is a national and global leader in agriculture, ranking first in production of hogs, corn, eggs and soybeans. Although Iowa is often viewed as a farming state, agriculture is only one part of the state's diversified economy, reflecting its changing urban-rural composition, currently 60% urban and 40% rural. Many varied industries contribute substantially to Iowa's economy. Iowa population of 3 million is primarily white (90%) with diversity increasing over the last few decades, attracting Hispanics and others to its manufacturing and related industries.
Oregon's economy is largely powered by fishing, timber, hydroelectric power, tourism, and agriculture. Over time, the economy has added a mix of manufacturing, services, and high technology. The state has a large federal government presence and health systems companies that employ significant numbers of workers. Over 80% of Oregon’s fast-growing population of 4.2 million people live in urban areas and the balance in rural areas spread across the state. The population is largely white (85%) with Asians a small but growing minority (4%).
Virginia's economy is quite varied, including shipbuilding, farming, seafood harvesting, apple-growing, wineries, technology companies and the federal government. The top three types of employers is total government (local, state, and federal), health care, and professional scientific, and technical services. Virginia has a population of 8.5 million people with 88% living in urban areas and 12% in rural areas. Virginia has a diverse population with 62% non-Hispanic white, 20% African American, and 7% Asian. About 10% of the population is Hispanic.