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County Extension coordinators in nine Alabama counties are currently involved in leading project work associated with the Rural Alabama Initiative (RAI) grant program.

The nine 2014 RAI projects were selected through a competitive process late in 2013 by the Economic and Community Development Institute, a department supported by the Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University Outreach. The nine projects selected for RAI grant support are as follows:

  • Barbour County (Heath Wesley, CEC), "Leadership Barbour County"
  • Bullock County (George Tabb, CEC), "Youth Leadership Bullock County"
  • Colbert County (Danny McWilliams, CEC), "Website for Cherokee and Western Colbert County"
  • Conecuh County (Emily Brogden, CEC), "Conecuh County Youth Leadership"
  • Lauderdale County (Lelia Wissert, CEC), "Tools of the Trades"
  • Macon County (Wil Golden, CEC), "Civic Engagement and Leadership Macon County"
  • Pickens County (Patti Presley-Fuller, CEC), "Elected Officials Alliance and Leadership Pickens"
  • Talladega County (Wanda Jurriaans, CEC), "Roundtable Discussions for Economic Development"
  • Washington County (Brandon Strickland, CEC), "Youth Economic Development Summit"


This is the eighth year that the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has offered grant support under the Rural Alabama Initiative (RAI) program. Administered by the Economic and Community Development Institute, the RAI grant program is designed to provide financial support to seed worthwhile rural initiatives that help boost a wide range of economic and community development efforts.

Extension has provided more than $1,300,000 in RAI funding to support 163 projects across rural Alabama. These projects have included community and regional adult and youth leadership development programs, workforce development academies, technology camps for high school counselors, high school robotics competitions, computer skills training for adults, rural tourism development programs and entrepreneurship training.


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