05 Jul GRANT AWARD IS A MILESTONE IN JOURNEY TO ADDRESS STAKEHOLDER FEEDBACK
In 2021, the League was awarded a Simplot Foundation grant to increase stakeholder engagement by promoting understanding of and generating support for the Columbia Basin Project. The award represented a significant milestone in a continued journey responding to outcomes of a 2019 stakeholder survey.
In 2019, 255 stakeholder survey responses from CBDL members, landowners, farmers, Columbia Basin residents, government agencies, elected officials, food processors, and others informed League short-mid-and-long-term goals related to outreach, education, and advocacy. Response analysis identified 10 specific action items for the League to undertake to acknowledge different target audience needs and improve engagement with each audience. But, funding for implementation of many of the action items proved a barrier. So, in 2020 the League explored creative funding solutions and ultimately, in 2021, established a special project fund with the 501 (c) 3 Columbia Basin Community Foundation that would create access to grant funding previously unavailable to the League due to its 501 (c) 6 nonprofit status.
Then, grant researching and applications began. The Simplot Foundation award was the first successful application in late 2021. After grant administration and development of a detailed work plan, the League set to work in Quarter 1 of 2022 on the first of two phases of the grant project—data collection and improvements for a specific segment of the League’s stakeholders referenced as “Key Communicators.”
Primarily consisting of local government contacts and community leaders within the Columbia Basin Project area, it was acknowledged in 2019 that relationships with this group of community influencers needed to be improved in order to address 2019 stakeholder feedback, and that started with a comprehensive, current contact list and a solidified process for regularly updating it (in light of the ever-changing nature of elected positions).
As of the writing of this article, Phase 1 of the Simplot Foundation grant project is nearly complete, and Phase 2 is now being developed. Phase 2 is intended to incrementally begin increasing the League’s outreach profile with what is anticipated to be a small series of stakeholder meetings in different parts of the Columbia Basin Project. Meeting topics are yet to be determined, but will likely include updates and input on the League’s priority initiatives as well as issues of interest and concern for different regions of the Project area. The League’s list of “Key Communicators” will be tapped to assist in development of the meeting series.