FLTI of Colorado at CSU’s Office of Engagement and Extension Spotlighted in National Springboard for Community Recovery Strategies after COVID-19

FLTI participants and staff before the COVID-19 pandemic.
FLTI participants and staff before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the coronavirus continues to affect communities across the nation, planning for the aftermath is beginning to take center stage. As great as the initial shock has been, it is but the first of many cascading impacts that must be addressed. Economic decline, increases in inequality in health and wealth, inadequate capacity of institutions to respond, and so on, will follow, rending the social fabric of families, communities, states, and the nation.

Trillions of dollars will be allocated and spent by federal, state, and local government agencies and foundations to address these challenges. “Some communities,” notes FLTI Advisory Board member and leading national civic leadership expert David Chrislip in Thriving Together, “will be able to put these resources to good use. Others will become more dependent on outside entities (like governments and foundations) for their survival and less resilient in the face of future challenges.” As communities begin to look at long-term efforts, versus responding to the immediate needs, there is growing commitment in communities to include in their recovery plans ways to diminish the inequities embedded in systems that became starkly clear during the pandemic.

A national guidebook to support these efforts was recently released and highlights building civic muscle as a key component of recovery and addressing systemic inequities. Thriving Together explains that Civic Muscle Building is a vital condition for wellness and essential for recovery planning. “Belonging and civic muscle …. is a pragmatic necessity for success in almost any endeavor to expand well-being.”

In this analysis, FLTI, one of CSU’s community-based leadership development programs was highlighted as a strong evidence-based approach for recovery that addresses systems inequities in local communities around the state of Colorado.

“The Family Leadership Training Institute is a community-based leadership and civic engagement collaborative providing training, in partnership with local communities, to increase community-level capacity for community-driven change. It’s an example of how we deliver on our commitment as Colorado’s land-grant university with a focus on impact, serving all Coloradans and connecting communities around shared solutions,” said Blake Naughton, Vice President for Engagement and Extension at CSU.

Director Patti Schmitt explains, “CSU’s FLTI program seeks to build bridges between content experts (ie. decision-makers) and context experts (community members with important lived experience) to strengthen communities’ ability to learn, plan, and act together for community-driven change. Building civic muscle to increase the diversity of voices at the decision-making table is key to these efforts.”

Background information on the national guidebook, “Thriving Together: A Springboard for Equitable Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America” authored by Well Being Trust, Community Initiatives and ReThink Health with support from the CDC Foundation, is included below.


America is a land of innovators and hard workers. Today, our lives and livelihoods are being destabilized by COVID-19 and other compounding threats. As we rush to recover, there is a danger of stopping short, missing the big picture, and fooling ourselves that getting back to normal is good enough. This Springboard shows how the immense resilience in America’s communities can propel us to organize local and nationwide action around one unifying and measurable expectation: All people and places thriving. No exceptions.

This Springboard highlights actions that communities, organizations, businesses, governments, and philanthropies can embrace to emerge from the trauma of 2020 with greater resilience, humanity, and direction.

Just like a physical springboard, which redirects and accelerates motion, this Springboard shows how we can convert our immense loss from COVID-19 and other crises into renewal. It concentrates attention on the vital conditions, points toward a future with all people and places thriving, and accelerates the speed with which we get there. It also fits with community-centered Well-Being in the Nation (WIN) Measures and supports related nationwide initiatives, such as the Surgeon General’s Report on Community Health and Economic Prosperity and the Healthy People 2030 Objectives.

“Thriving Together: A Springboard for Equitable Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America” authored by Well Being Trust, Community Initiatives and ReThink Health with support from the CDC Foundation. The full report, overview and additional information is available on the website at  Thriving.US.

Learn more about the Family Leadership Training Institute at fltiofcolorado.colostate.edu

Office of Engagement and Extension Staff