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Appalachian Coal Country Team

The Basic Engagement Plan

The OSMRE/VISTA Teams are dedicated to creating,strengthening, and supporting partnerships that benefit and engage rural communities in the Appalachian Coalfields and the Rocky Mountain West. To promote civic engagement in the regions that we serve, we require all first year sites to complete a Basic Engagement Plan (BEP). This helps to intrudce a more expansive deliberative dialogue to help the site reach its goals.

What is the BEP?

Representatives from the Rural Appalachian Improvement League meet with community members in Mullens, WV

The Basic Engagement Plan is an ongoing effort by both OSMRE/VISTA Teams, with support from the Kettering Foundation, that aids our sites in stepping "out of their foxholes" to discover unrealized common interests with larger groups that may share common ground, whether geographic or intellectual. To jumpstart that engagement, each site must fulfill the following requirements in their first year:

  • Two meetings with three public administrators
  • Two meetings with three community nonprofit groups
  • Two meetings with two elected officials

Once the community organization has met with each group twice, we ask sites to hold a final meeting, bringing together those that have been involved in the discussions for a larger dialogue. Our hope is to create the beginnings of a productive, sequential discussion, and a deliberative dialogue that expands the realm of partnerships and resources to support the social, environmental, and economic changes we all seek. Each site then completes a final report to share proven strategies and challenges in creating civic space in their communities.

OSM/VISTA Miranda Shoemaker meets with local political leaders in Kittaning, PA during the Armstrong County Conservation District's Legislative Breakfast


Our primary goal for the BEP is for community organizations to engage new partners and new constituencies in the hope of discovering and discussing common interests. We believe the BEP will strengthen our organizations and their community's capacity to address local challenges.