What is Community Coaching?
A coach can be an external guide who supports communities and organizations in identifying and achieving their goals.
Community coaching is defined as “an adaptive process tailored to unique community contexts to guide systemic change via participant empowerment.” In 2005, Extension convened a national roundtable discussion in Boise, Idaho to focus on the topic of community coaching. Participants in the Boise coaching roundtable defined a community coach as “a guide who supports communities and organizations in identifying and achieving their goals.” Community coaching is differentiated from individual and community coaching in several respects – most important; the primary objective of the former is to engage participants at the community level. While individual and organizational coaches seek to build the capacity of their individual clients or work teams, community coaching is linked to building community capacity. Unlike branches of community organizing, community coaching-based initiatives promote collaborative rather than oppositional approaches.
Kansas Community Coaching Initiative
In 2008, a consortium of groups at Kansas State University received a grant from USDA Rural Development for the purposes of conducting a series of Community Development Academies with teams of volunteer community leaders, as they had done previously. One element of the grant was new: Community Coaching. The three-year grant proposed to conduct Community Coaching Academies (parallel with the community development academies) to provide training for extension agents and others with an interest in doing coaching community processes. The training would build on the work of the Boise roundtable and other Extension work in community coaching. The Huck Boyd Institute was part of the training team. Sessions were held in Independence, Hays, and Manhattan, Kansas. This training was concluded in spring 2011. Subsequently, Kansas State University and other land-grant universities received a grant from USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute which incorporated coaching into a community and obesity change process across seven states. Other states, foundations, and organizations are exploring and utilizing the benefits of community coaching.
The Huck Boyd Institute is now engaged in a research project to explore the perceptions of coaches and communities involved in the Kansas initiative, because we believe community coaching may have significant value for rural communities.
If interested, please contact:
Ron Wilson, Director
Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
Kansas State University
101 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-1604