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The Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda

August 2021

Developing the Learning Agenda

In response to the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) developed the Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda using best practices from USAID's Learning Lab, the General Services Administration's Office of Evaluation Sciences, and the Office of Management and Budget.

ICPD connects individuals, organizations, and communities with research and tools to build and sustain capabilities for any disaster or emergency.

ICPD created the Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda as a tool that can be used to:

  • Drive research for the Division and the Whole Community to generate data for common questions.
  • Strategically organize important, key questions that we want to investigate.
  • Generate evidence, which will inform policies, planning, preparedness products, and programs for FEMA, ICPD, and the Whole Community.

In 2021, ICPD engaged with over 200 stakeholders from over 140 organizations across the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico as part of a Whole Community approach to develop the Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda.

Over a series of 12 Workshops, stakeholders:

  • Discussed disaster preparedness research priorities and needs.
  • Explored assumptions and gaps in understanding about preparedness.
  • Provided feedback on key questions of interest.

ICPD’s goal is to achieve a culture of preparedness for the U.S. population of over 327 million using its five portfolios.

Graphic showing ICPD’s 5 portfolios;preparedness actions, capacity building, youth preparedness, citizen responder, financial resilience

Engaging the Whole Community in Preparedness

Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it calls for the involvement of everyone — not just the government — in preparedness efforts.

The Whole Community includes individuals and families, including those with access and functional needs; businesses; faith-based and community organizations; nonprofit groups; schools and academia; media outlets; all levels of government, including state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal partners.

Building Capacity in Communities

ICPD’s Capacity Building portfolio increases preparedness in communities. A community includes individuals, households, businesses, community organizations, and other entities or categorizations of people outside the scope of state, local, tribal, and territorial definitions.


Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda

Preparedness Actions

  • To what extent do contextual factors (where we live, where we work, demographics, community norms and attitudes towards preparedness, disaster experience, accessibility to resources) influence individuals’ decision to prepare?
  • What are the barriers to preparedness?
  • What are the best practices to ensure equitable accessibility to preparedness resources for individuals?
  • What is the most effective way to motivate individuals to prepare based on their preparedness stage?
  • What is the impact of being prepared before, during, and after a disaster?

Capacity Building

  • What are the contextual factors (e.g., community norms and attitudes towards preparedness, disaster experience, demographics, accessibility to resources, etc.) that motivate communities to prepare?
  • What are promising practices for communities to ensure equitable accessibility to preparedness resources?
  • What is the role of organizations in preparing communities before, during, and after disasters?
  • What are the most effective types of partnerships for building prepared communities?
  • What is the impact of preparedness programs for communities?

Youth Preparedness

  • What is the lifelong impact of helping young people build preparedness skills?
  • What are the most effective strategies to build youth preparedness?
  • What are effective approaches to researching youth preparedness while ensuring children’s safety?

Citizen Responder

  • What are the factors that improve the impact of an individual’s response to a disaster or emergency?
  • What are the best ways for professional emergency managers to maximize the contributions of volunteer responders?
  • What is the impact of having properly trained and organized citizen responders?

Financial Resilience

  • What factors motivate individuals and their households to take steps to become financially resilient before a disaster?
  • What are the most effective low- or no-cost ways to strengthen financial resilience?
  • What are promising practices for inclusively communicating strategies for strengthening a household’s financial resilience in all communities?
  • What is the relationship between individual preparedness efforts and the need for disaster assistance?
  • What are the most effective ways to measure individual resilience?

Collaborate with us!

Download the Learning Agenda
Download the Individual and Community Preparedness Learning Agenda as a PDF to share with others.

Use the Learning Agenda

The Learning Agenda shows the big, key questions that are a priority for the Whole Community. Use these questions to drive your research, data collection, and programming.

Learn More about FEMA's Preparedness Research

Do you have data that could help us to answer these questions? We want to know! Contact us at FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov.

Learn More about FEMA's Preparedness Research