Through Peer mentorship, partnered communities will work together to enrich their community by improving quality of place programming and community development conversations. Driven by in-person assessments, stakeholder conversations, and peer advisement, a community will gather best practices and the necessary tools to help achieve their community’s vision.
It’s the program’s goal to provide outside expertise and perspective to the communities in a manner consistent with community development. Two communities will partner together to plan and implement a project within the host community. In the online application, the host community will briefly describing their strengths, opportunities and goals for their community. For those interested in being the mentor or host community, complete an online application below that provides details on their assets and ways in which they could serve as a host or mentor community. Those intending to apply should be open to learning best practices from other communities and more about potential opportunities for their community for more than just the project timeline.
Communities will focus on the aspects of their communities such as Main Street, businesses, tourism, education and unique aspects. These will all be discussed in detail and will be included along with what they would like to highlight and what they would like to enhance within their community. The communities should identify a current organization who will take the lead and continue with the momentum after the Peer team has provided insight and left the community.
During this pilot year, we will select one host and one peer community.
Any size community can be a mentor participant or the host community. The lead applicant must be the local unit of government with multiple organization and agency partnerships. Those involved should be key stakeholders and those who can present the community and make decisions for future projects.
Who else should be involved? Key community stakeholders, organizations and leaders responsible for specific areas being discussed should be included. Each community’s team makeup should be specific to the overarching goal.
Once applications are submitted, the OCRA team will select and partner a host and a mentor community. During the partnering phase, the OCRA team will evaluate community size, what could be learned from another community, similarities, amongst other factors, to optimize the success of the community.
Once the communities are selected and contacted, the host community will hold a one or one and a half day event, including a tour for OCRA team members and the Peer community. This event will be used to gain information, ask and answer questions and to showcase the host community. The tour will be attended by the home CL. An important part of the tour is providing an honest insight into the community’s strengths and areas of opportunities and the inclusion of youth. The host community will be responsible for hosting the Peer community and OCRA for a presentation as well as a final meeting on the final projects and areas of opportunities. The purpose of the presentation is to provide community specific insight which may not be able to be gleaned from a visit alone. These conversations are designed to be welcoming and educational.
After this meeting, the Peer community will take time to provide their recommendations to OCRA and the host community. At this meeting, the host community will obtain suggestions and action steps from the Peer community and team. During the tour, the visiting individuals will include notes of the proposed strategies for collaboration and project areas from an outside perspective.
Following the tour, an action plan will be delivered to the community within 20 business days. The action plan will:
- Provide specific steps for the identified community priorities;
- Serve as a guide for community development; and
- Identify partners for each project.
Once OCRA has selected the communities, each are asked to complete the following:
- Complete a self-guided site visit to the Peer community;
- Host and lead a presentation for the Peer community and OCRA;
- Host the Peer community and OCRA for a final meeting on the final projects and areas of opportunities;
- Host the Peer community project kick-off meeting facilitated by OCRA;
- Provide a diverse group of team members who are interested in a mentorship program and progressing the enhancement of quality of life programming;
- Continue the mentorship program beyond the project phase; and
- Match the project grant funds with a minimum of $20,000 cash match.
- Complete a self-guided site visit to the Host community;
- Attend the Peer community and OCRA for a presentation at the host community;
- Attend the Peer community final meeting and provide insight and recommendations on the final projects/areas of opportunities;
- Attend the Peer community project kick-off meeting and provide mentorship and guidance as needed; and
- Provide a diverse group of team members who are interested in a mentoring through the program and recommending a project that cohesively ties into a quality of place project that drives the community forward in a direction discussed during visits, tours, and conversations;
- $20,000 grant to build a recommend quality of place project for the host community;
- A $20,000 cash match will be required from the host community.
- Travel stipends for mentor community to visit the host community;
- Travel stipends for the host community to visit and attend meetings.
How to Apply
Applications must be received via Google Forms by 4 p.m. (ET) Friday, August 16. Late applications will not be accepted.
In the application, the community should identify what areas they are hoping to cultivate. Examples could include: riverfront/water, college town, state park, Main Street, tourism, recreational or any other self-identified area of opportunity.
Learn more about the program
View the informational video below hosted by Colette Childress, the Project Manager who overseas the program.
- Monday, June 24: Program opens
- Wednesday, June 26: Informational video posted
- Friday, August 16: Applications are due
- Thursday, September 12: Communities announced
- Monday, Oct. 28 through Friday, Nov. 8: Community Visits
- Monday, November 18 and Tuesday, November 19: Feedback Meetings
- Wednesday, December 11: wrap-up and project kick-off meeting
Questions should be directed to your OCRA Community Liaison.