Strategic Partnerships Highlights 
July 2021

Click for past Strategic Partnerships Highlights
In this Highlights (links below navigate to each section)
1. *This Wednesday, July 28* Monthly Connect: Office of Strategic Partnerships Resource and Information Session
2. Opportunity with NC Department of Public Safety
3. Q&A with Evidence Advisor, Jeff Grimes
4. State Agency Strategic Plans
5. State Government-Philanthropy Partnerships
6. Intern Spotlight: Lauren Hubbard, MPP and JD Candidate
Governor's Advisory Committee on Performance Management, Relevant Highlights
8. Sharing by Request, Other Relevant Resources
9. Past Monthly Connect Sessions (video recordings)

This Wednesday, July 28 - Monthly Connect
Partnerships Information and Resource Session

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The North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships increases and enhances partnerships between state government and NC’s renowned research institutions and philanthropic sector. To learn more, including how to get involved, we invite you to join the  

NC Office of Strategic Partnerships Monthly Connect 
Partnerships Information and Resource Session
Wednesday, July 28, 9:00am - 10:15am 
Scroll down for details to join 

In this Monthly Connect, representatives from the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) will answer questions about how state agencies can receive assistance with developing research priorities; conduct outreach to find external expertise for research partnership opportunities; increase internal capacity to use and generate evidence for decision making; and build collaborative networks of public officials and non-governmental partners. The discussion will include examples of partnerships underway, an overview of OSP and its partners, resources for partnership engagement, and opportunities to engage in this work. There will be time for Q&A. Links to relevant information and resources will be shared following the Monthly Connect session.   


  • Eliza Edwards, Policy Analyst, NC Office of Strategic Partnerships 

  • Jenni Owen, Director, NC Office of Strategic Partnerships  

  • David Yokum, Director, The Policy Lab, Brown University; Senior Advisor, NC Office of Strategic Partnerships 

Click here to join by computer or tablet 

Join by phone: 984-204-1487, code 491 060 612# 

Opportunity with NC Department of Public Safety: Dashboard Development 

The NC Department of Public Safety is seeking assistance with the development of two school safety dashboards. Click here for project description and information on how to express interest.   

Expertise needed may include: User-centered design; data cleaning, analytics, and visualization; front and back-end engineering. This project may also include opportunities for student involvement.  

Questions? Email

Q&A with Evidence Advisor

Jeff Grimes is Evidence Advisor with the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships.  

What do you most want people to know about your role?  
The Evidence Advisor role is a new and unique position in North Carolina state government, focusing on partnering with state agencies seeking to bolster the evidence base for public sector spending. I will be working collaboratively with a small number of agencies initially to find ways to further integrate evidence into what they do. For example, there may be a program that is already in place and has strong evidence that it is effective, and we will look for opportunities to broaden implementation of that program where appropriate. There are also cases where existing programs are already underway and seem promising, but we need more information. We also want to identify opportunities to launch low-cost randomized controlled trials to get the best possible data on the effectiveness of these programs. I am excited about the opportunity to further integrate the use of existing evidence while at the same time looking to develop new evidence. 

Can you share a bit about the importance of these efforts broadly?  
High quality evidence is critical to have confidence that public investments are producing the desired results and to learn where new approaches may be needed. For example, some education or workforce development programs have shown the power to transform the lives of program participants, while others have shown no effect at all. The field of medicine has made great advances by employing randomized controlled trials to determine what practices become the standard of care and which are discontinued or modified. We want to continuously learn more about which programs and policies in state government are effective and which need more evidence. I think this and other evidence-based decision making efforts underway in our state are critical to continuing to make progress on the most challenging problems.   

State Agency Strategic Plans

North Carolina state agencies are required to submit a strategic plan each biennium as part of the budget development process. The Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) provides a template and guidance to support agencies in developing their plans. A strategic plan helps chart an agency’s long-term vision and resource allocation, demonstrates how the agency is serving individuals and stakeholders in North Carolina, outlines how the agency evaluates progress and continuous improvement, and aligns goals and initiatives.  

For the 2021-23 Fiscal Biennium, OSBM piloted internally the strategic plan guidance recommended by OSBM to agencies. This pilot allowed OSBM to test the guidance’s effectiveness, create business tools for future planning efforts, collect data to better guide state agencies, as well as to draft a 2021–23 OSBM Strategic Plan. 

Agencies’ strategic plans are publicly available and may be of interest to individuals and organizations across a wide range of policy, budget, research, and practice issues. Click here for links to agencies’ FY2021-23 Strategic Plans. 

State Government-Philanthropy Partnerships

To maximize the collective response to COVID-19, government and philanthropy looked for ways to partner with one another and with the nonprofit and private sectors. The Urban Institute article, How Philanthropy Can Partner with Government to Meet Critical Needs during COVID-19, offers ideas on the structure and content of those cross-sector partnerships. 

One government philanthropy partnership that emerged in NC was the NC COVID-19 Student Response Corps, now in its second year of placing college and university students into internships with local governments and nonprofits across the state. This year, the John M. Belk Endowment and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation provided funds to ensure that all interns receive some compensation for their work. The Response Corps was launched in 2020 by the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Lead for North Carolina/UNC School of Government, in collaboration with many partners, and has placed nearly 180 students in internships since it began. Learn more here.

With new federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds going to state and local governments and Tribes, there are additional questions about how philanthropy and government can partner now and for years to come, beyond COVID response. Many organizations are sharing ideas for how philanthropy can play a role relative to ARPA funding (for example, see here). OSP is working alongside the NC Pandemic Recovery Office and the NC Network of Grantmakers, among others, to share resources about ARPA and its potential benefits to and impacts on North Carolina.

Intern Spotlight

Lauren Hubbard began her career as a data and policy analyst at a nonpartisan research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to closing opportunity and achievement gaps in Michigan’s public schools.  

During her time with the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Lauren has developed resources for government, university, and philanthropy entities to guide the development of successful cross-sector partnerships. She has assisted with OSP communications and outreach regarding partnership opportunities as well as highlighted impactful partnerships in North Carolina and the use of data and evidence by government entities. Lauren has also provided research support for the Task Force on Racial Equity in the Criminal Justice System (TREC). Lauren is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) Candidate at Duke University and Juris Doctor (JD) Candidate at the University North Carolina School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Michigan. 

Governor's Advisory Committee on Performance Management: Relevant Highlights 

At its June 2021 meeting, the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Performance Management (PMAC) heard from Assistant Secretary McKinley Wooten (NC Department of Revenue) and Senior Policy and Program Advisor Ellen Spolar (NC Department of Justice) about their agencies’ processes for developing research and learning agendas. They shared how developing the agendas is helping their agencies pursue priorities in service to North Carolinians. Agencies at all levels of government are increasingly using learning agendas to identify agency priorities and often seek expertise from external partners to move forward with those priorities. The Office of Strategic Partnerships works with agencies to identify the desired expertise and establish cross-sector collaborations. The PMAC, which is composed of department heads, senior officials, legislators and other performance management experts, also discussed how best to express its mission and vision. 

Sharing by Request, Other Relevant Resources


American Rescue Plan Information Session for Local Governments

The North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office recently held two information sessions for local government leaders about the American Rescue Plan Act. The sessions addressed the state’s plan to assist local governments, acceptable use of local fiscal recovery funds, and regional planning opportunities for addressing broader economic needs. Attendees heard from Governor Roy Cooper, state agency experts, and representatives from multiple statewide organizations. Click here for the session recording and slides.

NC Department of Commerce Economic Development Strategic Plan

The North Carolina Department of Commerce recently released its four-year Economic Development Strategic Plan, the ‘First in Talent’ plan. It identifies goals to prepare and grow a talented workforce to ensure success among the state’s businesses and communities as well as actions to be taken by policymakers. View the plan here.    

Past Monthly Connect Sessions

Maximizing University-Government Talent Partnerships (June 2021) 

Representatives from colleges and universities and state government agencies shared examples of existing government-university talent partnerships and work underway to diversify NC’s government workforce, highlighted the value of these efforts for students, jobseekers, and employers, discussed strategies for increasing their impact and reach, and provided tips for others who may want to make progress in this area. Click here for the recording and a list of relevant resources shared by speakers and participants.   

All previous Monthly Connect Sessions 

The NC Office of Strategic Partnerships increases and enhances partnerships between state government and the state’s renowned research institutions and philanthropic sector. We do this in part by building and enhancing collaborative networks of public officials and research partners. We focus on short and long-term partnerships of various scope and complexity that have lasting impact, are scalable, and yield public, open source resources.  

For more information, visit our webpage or contact

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