October 15, 2019
Civil Rights in Cooperative Extension Programming: Principles and Practices
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture [NIFA] conducts regular, systematic civil rights compliance inspections as required by USDA and the Department of Justice civil rights regulations. These reviews are necessary to assure that Extension is working in compliance with equal opportunity policies in the implementation of Extension programs, that every customer is treated with fairness, equality and respect, and that we are inclusive and have adequate diversity. The comprehensive reviews conducted by a USDA Civil Rights Specialist focus on administration, program development, program delivery, employment practices and the application of civil rights laws.
K-State Research and Extension had its most recent federal civil rights compliance review in 2008. There is the expectation that a future KSRE federal civil rights compliance review could be called for soon. Our KSRE Civil Rights Performance Plan requires that all local units have a state civil rights review as an ongoing check of civil rights compliance.
In Cooperative Extension, compliance with civil rights laws in the area of educational programs includes the following activities:
1. Making all reasonable effort to reach out to underrepresented and underserved groups.
2. Achieving parity (the point at which program participation by underrepresented and underserved group members --ethnic minorities and women/men--reflects their proportionate representation in the population of potential recipients).
3. Targeting specific communities, based on program goals.
4. Networking with organizations and agencies that help us reach people of underrepresented and underserved groups.
5. Seeking stakeholder input from advisory groups, collaborators, and partners.
6. Documenting the work we have done by:
• Developing action plans for reaching targeted audiences through understanding the demographic and socio-economic data for audiences to be served.
• Keeping records about visits with special contacts.
• Maintaining a file of representative public communications demonstrating all reasonable efforts in reaching the underrepresented and underserved.
• Recording racial/ethnic information on mailing lists.
• Including nondiscrimination and ADA accommodations statements on all Cooperative Extension publications and news releases.
• Completing nondiscrimination assurance statement forms periodically with Extension partners and collaborators.
• Staying informed of the public complaint process and how to document all complaints, as well as understanding the And Justice for All poster.
• Completing Quarterly Effort Reports and annually comparing demographics of potential audiences with those reached with Extension programs.
• Completing required civil rights training.
• Keeping an up-to-date local unit civil rights file.