Early in 2011 Bow Valley College’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation was contacted by the Community Futures Network of Alberta, also referred to as Community Futures Alberta, requesting to partner on a proposal to the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) to conduct a meta-evaluation of two rural economic development programs in Alberta administered by Community Futures Alberta. The Community Futures program is a national rural economic development program that has been funded by the federal government since 1986. In Alberta, there are 27 offices along with an Association called Community Futures Alberta.
The two programs that are subject to this study are: The Rural Community Economic Development
Program (RCED), which was delivered from 2005-2008, and the Rural Diversification Initiative (RDI)
which commenced in 2008 and is scheduled for completion in 2012. Both RCED and RDI were funded by Western Economic Diversification and the two programs provided funding to 90 economic development projects in rural Alberta worth over $10 million. Both programs had a required capacity building component as well as an ability to provide funding for community economic development projects.
Project Objectives and Goals
The objective of this evaluation is to inquire into the outcomes of these two funding programs (RCED and RDI) on rural communities and Community Futures organizations in order to gain a better and deeper understanding of how important they are to rural Alberta communities. Were their goals met?
What factors affected project success? What are the characteristics associated with each of the funded programs success and what are their limitations? Answering these questions will identify the most impactful characteristics that can serve to inspire rural communities in Alberta and beyond.