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WVU Extension awarded $80K in grants to enhance prosperity and education

Three middle school aged girls make professional dress out of garbage bags and found objects.

Students from Jackson Middle School participate in a "dress for success" activity as part of WVU Extension's "Seeing Yourself in the Future" career readiness pilot program in Wood County. (Photo by WVU Extension)

West Virginia University Extension continues to identify opportunities to improve the lives and livelihoods of West Virginia communities, including programs designed to create prosperity, enhance education and address health care needs in the state. Four WVU Extension programs will get a boost from $80,000 in grants awarded by the Extension Foundation to build upon valuable programs to carry out the land-grant mission. 

The Extension Foundation’s New Technologies for Ag Extension awarded grants to 39 projects across Cooperative Extension as part of its fourth year of the program, which is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through a partnership with Oklahoma State University and the Extension Foundation.

WVU Extension was awarded four of the eight projects selected for the Northeast Region, including $60,000 for an expansion project; a $10,000 award for an acceleration project; and two $5,000 fellowship awards for incubation projects.

“It is exciting to see the creative and innovative work of our faculty and staff being recognized by the Extension Foundation,” Jorge Atiles, dean of Extension and Engagement, WVU Extension, said. “These grants and resources will help us further grow and develop important programs that create opportunity, address community needs and provide valuable resources throughout the state, including critical youth programming.”

Expansion Project: 

WVU Extension’s My Hometown is Cool will receive a $60,000 expansion grant, which is awarded to already-implemented projects that need support to expand into state, regional, or national projects. My Hometown is Cool began in 2019 and provides West Virginia youths with opportunities to learn about community development and how their ideas, creativity and commitment can help drive change. Young people ages 9-18 from across the state identify project ideas to help make their hometowns better (cooler), and they submit a video explaining their ideas to the My Hometown is Cool Statewide Pitch Competition. From there, finalists are chosen to receive mini grants, which are used to implement the ideas. The grant will allow faculty and staff to expand this youth entrepreneurship program and activities throughout West Virginia. 

Acceleration Project:

WVU Extension’s financial literacy program was selected to receive a $10,000 acceleration grant. Acceleration projects include those that are in the pre-planning stage and may have been piloted, developed a curriculum, or are in another stage of early implementation. The goal of Extension’s financial literacy program is to improve financial literacy rates to increase financial security and prosperity for all West Virginians. The program is focused on individuals across the lifespan and includes special topics to improve financial literacy knowledge and practice resulting in increased financial literacy rates. As part of the grant, the group will share their content and learning processes with Cooperative Extension Service through digital engagement and publishing. 

Incubation Projects:

Two programs each received a $5,000 fellowship as part of the incubation project category, including career readiness and cultural competency education in our West Virginia communities. 

During 2021-22, WVU Extension’s post-secondary team developed a career readiness program that was offered to 126 students in 7th and 8th grade in Marshall and Wood counties. The team will use their grant to further develop and expand the “Seeing Yourself in the Future” career readiness opportunities for West Virginia middle school students. 

Incubation project grants are awarded to programs that are still in the idea stage and pre-planning stage. Work on these projects will take project leaders through an innovation process designed to help them think through their project ideas, audiences, outcomes, and plans. The team will work with the Extension Foundation to plan, test and expand a pilot program that can be replicated throughout the state/region. 

The “Cultural Competency in Municipalities” partners with West Virginia cities and towns to provide education and cultural competency outreach to build understanding and awareness in our communities. The fellowship award will be used to build upon this work using resources and services provided by the Extension Foundation to position diversity, equity, inclusion, and access training for greater success and sustainability. 

The Extension Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the land-grant university system and 100% of the funds are used to support land-grant university initiatives. 

Learn more about WVU Extension programs or contact your local WVU Extension office. Keep up with the latest in WVU Extension news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @WVUExtension.   



CONTACT: Tara Curtis

WVU Extension Service


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