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Engagement and Outreach Impact

The UM System and its four universities are committed to connecting resources, research and projects to improve Missourians’ lives in areas of greatest challenge related to the economy, education and health.

Select a topic below to explore the progress and goals of these important and ongoing initiatives.

UM System Workforce Development

The UM System Workforce Development Initiative supports statewide and local business, government and education efforts to enhance Missouri’s 21st century workforce and ensure a vibrant, competitive economy. During an age of on-demand, online education and skill development, everyone must have access to the opportunities offered by the rapid pace of today’s technological innovations. As such, this initiative complements UM System efforts to expand broadband access — a tool as essential as electricity to ensure Missouri’s growth and opportunity.

How does Missouri prepare a workforce for the demands of the 21st century? What workforce challenges — including the impact of COVID-19 and access to high-speed internet services — are affecting the economy? How can business, government and education leaders strategize, support, coordinate and enhance comprehensive statewide and local workforce development and college and career readiness efforts?

Feature story

Workforce development starts with engaged youth (visit the MU Extension site)

Workforce Development Initiative

The Workforce Development Initiative commits resources and research across its four universities to address these challenges. The initiative pulls together researchers and educators at the four universities to explore workforce development needs, efforts and impacts in communities across our state. New partnerships will join technology and workforce training — preparing workers who can adapt to next-generation innovations and workforce needs and demands.

Feature story

Connecting to careers: Partnering to help veterans transfer skills to civilian life (visit the MU Extension site)

Workforce Development Team

A UM System Workforce Development Team with faculty representatives from each university will work with partners across the state focused on these efforts.

  • MU
    • Rob Russell, Director of the Labor and Workforce Development Program for Extension
    • Denice Ferguson, Extension Field Specialist in Agricultural Business
  • UMKC
    • Carmen DeHart, Senior Director of Entrepreneurial Education at the UMKC Innovation Center and Regional Director for the Missouri Small Business Development Center
    • Nate Addington, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach
  • Missouri S&T
    • Beth Kania-Gosche, Chair and Professor of Teacher Education and Certification
    • Melanie Keeney, Director of Engagement and Outreach
  • UMSL
    • Karl Guenther, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Community Economic Development
    • Natissia Small, Vice Provost for Access, Academic Support and Workforce Integration
    • Doug Swanson, Extension Field Specialist in Labor and Workforce Development

Feature story

Getting employees in recovery back into the workforce (visit the MU Extension site)

All Things Missouri: Workforce Development

Explore the All Things Missouri gallery of tools, data, and resources below to learn more about the workforce development landscape in Missouri and how to support and advance workforce and economic development work — major priorities in the mission as a public institution of higher education.

UM System Extension and Engagement Week 2020

In partnership with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the University of Missouri System Engagement Week 2020 from Oct. 26–30 explored workforce development needs, efforts and impacts in communities across our state. Business, government and educational leaders offered strategies to build local and statewide momentum to enhance Missouri’s 21st century workforce and a vibrant, competitive economy. Watch the highlights from Engagement Week 2020 or view the full video archive from the event.

Featured Stories

Today’s workers struggle to find and retain quality well-paying jobs. Three Missourians — Sammy J. Morning, Delicia Simpson and veteran Scott Hoad — talk about their job struggles and how finding a career with financial stability improved their lives.

Sammy J. Morning
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Delicia Simpson
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Scott Hoad
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UM System Broadband Initiative

Broadband is a critical factor in economic growth, educational opportunity and access to healthcare—for all of Missouri and beyond. Cutting-edge technologies such as internet-based business, precision agriculture, next generation precision healthcare, eLearning, smart infrastructure and smart government, and many more, are key to improving Missourians' lives and opportunities.

These 21st century technologies all require access to reliable high-speed internet and a population trained to use them effectively. Yet, many areas of Missouri currently lack the broadband infrastructure necessary to use these new applications. Almost 20% of Missourians—more than 1.2 million citizens—do not have access to high-speed internet at this time.

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The UM System Broadband Initiative exemplifies the mission of the Office of Engagement and Outreach in which the University and the greater community partner to establish a relationship of value, share information and improve the lives of those in Missouri and beyond. Learn more about the office and its engagement systemwide (PDF, 3MB).

See an update on how the UM System Broadband Initiative is connecting and empowering communities.


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Featured stories

Broadband Initiative pilots project to expand an essential utility statewide—starting in Bollinger County

Clinton County selected to test new broadband technology

Missouri S&T broadband research wins national contract

Broadband Update Webinar: July 8, 2020

The UM System Broadband Leadership Team, consisting of researchers and community stakeholders, hosted a live public webinar on July 8, 2020, introducing an actionable plan to bring affordable and accessible broadband internet to Bollinger County, Missouri.

Applied to a county in which four out of five residents have no broadband access, the plan serves as a model for a broader effort to make high speed internet more available to people in rural areas of the state. Entitled “Bringing Broadband to a Missouri Community,” the webinar also shared information about the Missouri Broadband Resource Rail, a free, web-based resource that assists in the expansion of broadband across a variety of industries and government services.

Watch the full Broadband Update webinar on the University of Missouri Extension website (exit UM System site).

About Missouri Broadband Resource Rail

Missouri Broadband Resource Rail is a free web-based resource that uses SourceLink®, proven resource connector software, to encourage the creation of teams devoted to the expansion of broadband and adoption of broadband-based applications in business, agriculture, education, government services and healthcare.

The site catalogues over 100 current research, community education and service projects related to broadband expansion and development of broadband-based applications involving UM System faculty and staff. It hosts government, business and nonprofit resources related to broadband and its applications, as well. The Resource Rail also features UM System resources to help communities assess:

  • appropriate technologies to meet their broadband infrastructure needs
  • available financing and funding resources for broadband projects
  • strategies to educate the public on how to use broadband-based applications

The Resource Rail connects with All Things Missouri, a web-based resource developed by the MU Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), with its databases of geocentric information about broadband access and census data about community education, employment, healthcare and other metrics.

Results and lessons learned from the community test-bed project in Bollinger County are also available through the Missouri Broadband Resource Rail so that they can be applied in other settings across the state.

UM System Health Engagement

Missourians — especially in rural areas — face acute health care challenges. Many people travel more than an hour to reach health care providers for routine care and emergency services.  An aging and financially disadvantaged population struggles with high rates of obesity, smoking, heart disease, stroke, mental health concerns, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and more.

Here is how Missouri is placed among America's Health Rankings for 2019:

  • Overall health care ranking- 39 out of 50
  • Access and affordability- 33 out of 50
  • Prevention and treatment- 37 out of 50
  • Avoidable use and cost- 45 out of 50
  • Health care disparity- 41 out of 50

Show Me Health and Well-Being

The Show Me Health and Well-Being initiative and UM System Health Engagement Task Force works with MU Extension, local communities and partners to help identify and solve health care access and preventative care and education challenges, with a goal of helping Missouri improve its overall ranking from 33 to 25 by 2030.

Broad efforts are already underway, such as a community health program area within MU Extension that will help strengthen collaboration across medical, nursing and health professions schools and services and link the NextGen Precision Health Initiative with rural health needs.

Updates and outcomes will continue to be shared as task force and related initiative projects efforts harness the expertise, resources, research and reach of the UM System to bring forth the results and solutions needed to improve long-term health outcomes across Missouri.

Feature story

UM System Health Care Finder: helping to identify and solve local health care needs

About Missouri Health Care Finder

The UM System Health Care Finder online tool is one strand of the statewide Show Me Health and Well-Being initiative that aims to increase Missourians’ access to health care and boost the state’s health care outcomes.

The easy-to-use tool maps more than 200 UM System health care resources across the state — from a pediatric endocrinology clinic in Kirksville to Tele-Behavioral Health Services in Marble Hill. Using key words, zip codes and geographic areas, Missourians can locate these UM System health care assets and services near them.

More important, the Health Care Finder will help the UM System Health Engagement Task Force identify gaps in care and areas of need in local communities. It is also a tool with room for growth in the future, such as adding other community-based health and social services to provide even more resources for users.

For the full version of the UM System Health Care Finder, visit the UM System Engagement Portal, the UM System's comprehensive online inventory of each university’s footprint and impact serving Missourians beyond the campus.

View the full Missouri Health Finder and other engagement data in the UM System Engagement Portal.

UM System All Things Food

In a state where agriculture is the #1 industry, Missouri is a powerful leader in making sure every Missourian — and the world — are food secure. Food is at the heart of our social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being. With the resources, expertise and perspectives we each bring to the table, we must work toward a shared vision of an improved food system. The University of Missouri System and its partners lead efforts that explore how to provide vital nutrition and a healthy planet for all, now and for our future.

Featured Work

Engagement and Outreach - Food - What can we do?


What can we do?

Learn more about food system issues in Missouri.

  • gain a better understanding of how data-informed actions can impact the food system
  • highlight how public and private food assistance programs help people in need
  • share ideas for building a more food-secure Missouri

Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security

Center research informs policy makers, researchers, government agencies and local, regional, and statewide nonprofits.

Food Systems Programs

University of Missouri Extension Food Systems Programs connect producers and communities to increase access to locally grown food and enhance food security. All who are interested in these issues are welcome to join the Food Systems Network.

Mini-grant Projects

Three new MU Extension projects will help address Missouri food system challenges:

  • a specialty crop podcast
  • Freeze It! meal prep and food waste diversion course
  • Expanded Value Added Meat Team education

View more info

Food Systems Programs

All Things Missouri: Food Security

Learn more about food system and security issues from this presentation using an adapted “Ignite” model.

All things food

4-H Feeding Missouri

Support the annual 4-H Feeding Missouri food drive, in partnership with Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids — with the 2022-2023 goal of raising 800,000 meals through food drives, monetary donations and volunteering time at local food pantries. 


Missouri Hunger Atlas

Through indicator maps, tables and searchable data, the Atlas details the extent of food insecurity in all 114 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis. The data also track data on the efficacy and impact of hunger assistance programs. 

All Things Food Story Map

The interactive tool from MU Extension CARES (Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems) is designed to help you explore the diverse food system in Missouri and learn more about food insecurity across the state.

2022 Extension and Engagement Week session

UM Extension and Engagement Week — with events at all four UM System universities — showcases the impact of extension programming and university engagement on addressing our state’s grand challenges. The 2022–2023 focus is on food. Recorded sessions are available for viewing here.

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Featured Stories

Featured stories

Missouri can lead the way to a food secure future for all

Missouri EATs helps communities strengthen local food systems

Growing a food hub and a community at the same time

Strengthening Missouri's local food systems

Questions: contact Alison Copeland, UM System, deputy chief engagement officer,

Thanks to sponsors on this page: FCS Financial, Missouri Soybeans, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


UM System Community Connect

The Community Connect website provides more information about how the UM System’s four universities improve opportunities for communication and connection between the universities and communities they serve. Visit the Engagement Opportunities and Data webpage to learn more.

Reviewed 2023-03-27