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The Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being

Cooperative Extension’s Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being is a community of Extension personnel and their partners united by their shared commitment to advancing health equity and well-being. Members work together to support the implementation of Cooperative Extension’s National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being (2021) to ensure that all people can be as healthy as they can be.

Engaged Communities Make Strides in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic


The opioid epidemic is a national issue impacting communities across the country. It was declared a public health emergency in October 2017. Communities have mobilized at the national, state, and local level to address the problem, and Cooperative Extension has partnered with them in their efforts. The drivers and impacts of the opioid crisis in communities are complex and require a multi-level response. We employed a stakeholder engagement methodology, the SEED Method, to create multisector action plans to address the opioid epidemic in a rural community in Southwest Virginia with some of the highest opioid prescription and overdose rates.

It is important to involve those impacted by health issues in the identification and prioritization of solutions to ensure that the actions taken are based on an understanding of the local situation and reflect the communities concerns and needs. We worked with an existing community-university partnership to apply the SEED Method, engaging over 60 key stakeholders from the community at various levels of involvement in evaluating the factors impacting opioid misuse, developing strategies to address it, and mobilizing for action. The community identified four priority strategies, and formed workgroups to accomplish them. Over the course of eighteen months and despite the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, these workgroups were able to establish a collaborative program between the local behavioral health provider and private hospital system to provide continuum of care for patients entering the emergency room with opioid overdose, establish a drug court, create a community resources awareness video, and expand youth substance use prevention education in the school system.

The community team members felt that the accomplishments of the workgroups were the greatest outcome of the project. They highlighted that the structure provided by the SEED Method helped bring organizations and individuals together to network and align their efforts for action. The community-based principles upon which the SEED Method is based help foster a significant level of trust between the community team members. Community engagement is essential to responding effectively to issues impacting the quality of life of the residents. Those interested in learning more about  the SEED Method or receiving  technical assistance to use it can join our sub-group HERE, The SEED Method, or contact us HERE.

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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