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Insights and Updates from the Richmond Area Service Alliance (RASA)

To build financial stability among Richmond’s early childhood education centers, four nonprofits are pioneering an innovative business model: the shared service alliance.

Initiated by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation in 2017 with support from the Community Foundation and Robins Foundation, the Richmond Area Service Alliance (RASA) allows partnering education centers to tap into back-office services of the “hub” organization for a small membership fee.

St. James’s Children’s Center, Church Hill Activities & Tutoring (CHAT), and FRIENDS Association for Children served as the inaugural members, with CA (formerly Commonwealth Autism) as their hub.

“All of these organizations need someone to do payroll, IT, human resources. Sometimes, these needs even start to become the priority of the director, taking away time they could spend focusing on their mission. But if they use our payroll specialist, they don’t need a payroll specialist,” said Jessica Philips, President & CEO of CA.

Members can take those salary savings and reinvest those dollars into better teacher compensation and classroom materials, ensuring high-quality programs. The hub also shares knowledge of efficient data-tracking software, workforce development practices and untapped funding streams to help members fine-tune their business models.

“We know nationally that this industry has pretty razor-thin margins, and that’s even in the corporate world,” Jessica said. “So, we’re helping members take a look at their business practices and build their financial acumen.”

Debbie Lickey, Executive Director of St. James’s Children’s Center, used to take care of her center’s payroll herself. Since joining RASA, she has the time and connections to work with teachers in CHAT’s preschool program, sharing what she’s learned during her 40-plus years in the field of early childhood education. Already, St. James has seen enough savings to hire a new teacher at a rate they previously would not have been able to afford.

“When you have other people that you can collaborate with, people can lend each other their strengths,” Debbie said, “and it makes a huge difference.”

 

Expanding the Shared Service Alliance

As RASA continues to advance its menu of services into areas such as human resources, licensing compliance and professional development, the next step is to also expand membership beyond the initial four nonprofit partners.

Tammy Bowen, Project Specialist with CA says that RASA membership could be appropriate for childhood education centers that serve low-income families locally – in the city and surrounding counties.  These new partners must be licensedand commit to participating in the Virginia Quality Rating and Improvement System.  When deciding on a right fit for RASA, Tammy notes that, “Our new partners must be committed to our core values – collaboration, best practices and challenging the status quo – in order to drive the Alliance and their individual center’s mission forward.”       

New members joining RASA will have to pay a membership fee, with an ultimate goal of only paying a fraction of what it would cost to hire a full-time employee for the same service.

On March 12th, from 10:30 to 12pm early childhood education centers are invited to take part in professional development and learn more about the Richmond Area Service Alliance at ChildSavers in downtown Richmond.  If you have questions or would like to attend, please contact Tammy Bowen at Tammy.Bowen@cahumanservices.org.

In the future CA is looking at expanding the Shared Service Alliance model to other areas of human services, locally, as well as in Hampton Roads.

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The Impact of New Tax Laws on the Local Nonprofit Sector

There’s no question that the 2018 tax reform has been a hot topic of conversation, and often, a source of concern for the nonprofit sector.  Organizations have been asking: how can we prepare, what can we anticipate, and how should we adjust our fundraising plan? Over the last several months in Greater Richmond, nonprofits have gathered for workshops, community conversations and discussions to learn from experts and one another about how they can strategically navigate these changes, while continuing their mission-driven work. This July, the Community Foundation surveyed nonprofit leaders to better understand the implications of the new tax laws on the local sector to monitor trends and offer insight.

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Learning Center Tips: Get Resource Guides from Community Conversations

For many years, the Community Foundation has offered learning opportunities for nonprofit professionals in a variety of formats – leadership programs, networking opportunities, classes and training, to name a few.  Earlier this year, we announced a few programming changes, which you can read more about here. A new element that has been added is a focus on emerging trends in the sector (locally or nationally) called “Community Conversations”.  The seats for these events are free, but limited, and tend to go quickly. On the Learning Center you can now view resources from those conversations, in case you couldn’t make it to the event or if you want copies of digital versions of handouts, power point slides, relevant links or community curated content.

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News from the Community: Winter 2018 Nonprofit Highlights

This week we're sharing news tidbits from around the community!  We want to make it easy for our ConnectVA audience to quickly digest the big headlines affecting and about our local nonprofit community.  Does your nonprofit have news to share?  Send us an email at admin@connectva.org!  Enjoy!

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Word Soup: Achieving “impact” starts with how you define it

Perhaps the best way to capture community impact is to measure against the goal(s) of the person, organization or partners who choose to act. They may support or deliver programs intended to expand mental health services, increase access to safe and affordable housing or increase participation in the arts. Results, however, are influenced by other factors such as reliable transportation, job opportunities and child care. With this level of complexity, we strive to view community impact as a coordinated effort in which multiple partners come together to define expectations, integrate services and measure progress with the full set of participant needs in mind...which leads us to the next term.

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Ethnicity

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

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Creating An Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Age

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: Barriers and Interventions for Ability Status

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.   Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: An Introduction

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

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Nonprofit Trends: Challenges for Young Nonprofit Professionals in RVA

In mid-January, The Community Foundations serving Richmond and Central Virginia brought together two of their nonprofit networks – YNPN RVA (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA) and ENLP Alumni (Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program Alumni) for breakfast, information-sharing and discussion at Peter Paul Development Center. For those who aren’t familiar - YNPN RVA (the local chapter of the National organization/network) supports the growth, learning, and development of young and early-career nonprofit professionals through professional development, networking, and social opportunities (learn more about YNPN RVA here). The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, now in its 10th year of operation, is a dynamic eight-month experience for budding nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. Participants have the opportunity to foster a deeper understanding of their leadership capacity, advance their understanding and practice of leading in the nonprofit sector, and strengthen their network of nonprofit colleagues (learn more about ENLP here and come to an information session – dates announced in March 2017). During the breakfast, there was a facilitated discussion around the biggest barriers and challenges for young nonprofit professionals in RVA. Fairly quickly, themes began to emerge, as many audience members shared similar experiences and obstacles. The group continued the discussion of specific challenges by generating ideas, tips and advice for how a young nonprofit professional (or how an organization employing a young nonprofit professional) could work to overcome some of these challenges and barriers. Here are some of the main challenges that were discussed:

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