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Nonprofit News: Emerging Nonprofit Leaders 2017-2018 Announced

The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF) is excited to announce the selected participants for the 2017-2018 cohort of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders!

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program is a dynamic eight-month experience for the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. In this engaging program, 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.

Now in its eleventh year of operation, the program has demonstrated measurable results, building a cadre of talented leaders for the future of the Greater Richmond community.

In addition to participating in engaging sessions on topics including strategic leadership, organizational change, collaboration, and coaching others, participants:

  • Experience team building through a rigorous and challenging outdoor course setting
  • Increase awareness of their leadership through a thorough assessment process
  • Benefit from individual leadership coaching, provided by professionals with experience in leadership development and nonprofit management
  • Interact with five local exemplary Executives-in-Residence in a forum where they share their experiences and perspectives

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Cohort of 2016-2017 on graduation day in June.

Selection Process

Nonprofit applicants were selected based on their potential to make a significant future contribution to the nonprofit community through assuming higher and increased levels of leadership, show substantive history of involvement in the nonprofit sector through employment, volunteerism, or board service and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development, continuing education, and lifelong learning.

In early September, a committee made up of local nonprofit leaders and ENLP Alumni reviewed applications to ensure that the 11th cohort met above criteria and that the group would be diverse and comprehensive representation of the local nonprofit sector.

 

The 2017-2018 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Participants

Congratulations to all who were selected to be a part of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders!

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News from the Community: SisterFund Awards $20,000 to Partnership for the Future

In partnership with The Community Foundation, SisterFund recently announced that its second annual grant to empower African American women and girls will be awarded to Partnership for the Future. The grant of $20,000 will be used to provide training, enrichment and mentoring for 179 high school girls and college women working to attain their college degrees.

Partnership for the Future provides highly-motivated local high school students from challenging circumstances with the tools and experiences necessary to attain a college degree. In recent years, the program has expanded from real world training and college prep activities while in high school – such as SAT courses, college tours, cultural experiences and paid internships – to include mentoring and support once students enter college. Most participants are from low-income families and are often first to attend college. Partnership for the Future is designed to help young people unlock their full potential by giving them the road map and support to be successful.

ABOVE: A video about Partnership for the Future’s whose mission is to provide high-potential high school students from challenging circumstances in the metro-Richmond area with tools and experiences necessary to attain a college degree.

“Our membership was particularly impressed by the resourcefulness and collaboration demonstrated by Partnership for the Future,” said Cynthia Newbille, President of the SisterFund. “The program has achieved remarkable results with the support of its dedicated staff, 70 organizational partnerships and a cadre of 200 loyal volunteers. Since 2007, Partnership for the Future has a 100% matriculation rate and 86% of its students have graduated within 6 years or are persisting through college.”

What is SisterFund?

SisterFund represents the collective wisdom, service and philanthropy of 26 African American women leaders who believe they can make a greater difference together than they can alone. While many of its members have chosen professions in service to their community, the giving circle is an opportunity to come together to broaden their collective awareness about issues affecting African American women and girls and to support nonprofits serving this population through education, workforce and leadership development.

Learn more about SisterFund, its membership and grant program by visiting www.sisterfundrva.org.

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News from the Community: RVA Community Fund for Standing Together Launches with Mini Grants for Nonprofits

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is pleased to announce a new resource for Richmond-area nonprofit organizations.  Thanks to initial funding from the Robins Foundation and fund management from the Richmond Jewish Foundation, the RVA COMMUNITY FUND FOR STANDING TOGETHER was launched on August 21st, 2017.

APPLY FOR FUNDING

This funding opportunity supports Richmond-area nonprofit organizations with financial support for rapid response services after incidents of bias, discrimination, or bullying. These incidents often require immediate interventions that are not covered by traditional funding mechanisms. As such, this fund ensures that nonprofit organizations will have greater capacity to meet needs that are increasingly urgent in today’s climate.  Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for mini-grants of $500, $1,000, or $1,500 to support interventions including facilitating, convening, counseling, and coaching.

Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of VCIC, says that he encourages organizations to apply for funding to support community-wide solidarity events after incidents of bias or discrimination, schools that need professional development or student workshops after bullying etc.

The grant application form is can be found online at http://www.inclusiveva.org/standing-together-rva/fund/.  Completed application forms can be submitted at any time to communityfund@inclusiveVA.org.  Applications will be reviewed by an objective, diverse committee on a weekly basis, and approved requests will be funded within two weeks.

This RVA Community Fund for Standing Together will exist until all resources are expended.

WANT TO DONATE TO THIS FUND?

Individuals or foundations interested in donating to support this effort can go here http://tinyurl.com/rjf-donate and select “RVA Community Fund for Standing Together” in the “Fund Designation”.

Contact the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities by emailing jzur@inclusiveva.org with any questions and please spread the word about this opportunity!

To learn more about Standing Together RVA go here.

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News from the Community: Local Foundation Award Updates

We caught up with the largest local foundations to get an update on their awards so far, this year!  See what initiatives are being funded and check out ConnectVA’s tools and resources for connecting with local grantmakers and information.

John Randolph Foundation

John Randolph Foundation awarded its latest grants on Thursday, July 20th in front of a crowd of 125 partners, donors, and grant recipients. Responsive grants from the Foundation’s Mission Fund were awarded to 17 nonprofits totaling $403,369. The Foundation also awarded grants from endowment funds to eight organizations totaling $123,090, and finally two local educator awards totaling $4,000.   As the Tri-Cities area’s only community foundation, John Randolph helps donors create enduring investments and currently manages nine endowments, 60 scholarships, and three educator award programs.

HEALTH

  • Alamo Recovery Center $11,625 for community-based substance abuse counseling in the Tri-Cities area
  • *Bensley-Bermuda Volunteer Rescue Squad$4,070 for ambulance child restraints
  • Central Virginia Health Services$100,000 for the Hopewell-Prince George Community Health Center
  • City of Hopewell Fire & Rescue$22,500 for Lucas chest compression devices
  • Conexus$13,424 to correct student vision problems in 35 schools in the Tri-Cities area
  • *Crater Community Hospice$6,625 to provide quality hospice care to people in the Tri-Cities area
  • *CrossOver Healthcare Ministry$14,875 for the Access to Care Program for Residents of Southern Central Virginia
  • FeedMore$20,000 for the Comprehensive Children’s Nutrition Program in Hopewell
  • Hopewell Food Pantry$40,000 to support access to healthy food for people in need in the City of Hopewell
  • Metropolitan Richmond Sports Backers$17,500 for Kids Run RVA and Fitness Warrior programs in the Tri-Cities area
  • Prince George Emergency Crew$35,000 to purchase a Zoll Cardiac Monitor and AutoPulse chest compression device
  • Reach Out for Life$20,000 to support the Free Mammography Outreach Program in the Tri-Cities area
  • SwimRVA$20,000 to support the Learn to Swim program in Hopewell
  • Virginia Dental Association Foundation$12,500 to support Donated Dental Services in the Tri-Cities area
  • YMCA of Greater Richmond$30,000 for Teen programs at the Petersburg and Chester YMCA centers

QUALITY OF LIFE

  • Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Richmond Chapter$5,000 to improve quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • *Appomattox Regional Library System$22,659 for general operating expenses of all eight branches of the library system
  • *Beacon Theatre 2012, LLC$42,804 to support the purchase of sound equipment and lighting upgrades
  • *City of Hopewell Parks and Recreation$1,329 for the City Point 5K Kid’s Fun Run and Fit for Life challenge
  • *Historic Hopewell Foundation$41,549 for renovations at Weston Manor
  • Joseph’s Villa$15,000 to support the Flagler Housing Resource Center
  • The James House$22,500 for children and teens impacted by domestic violence and stalking

EDUCATION

  • GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)$7,500 for In-School Financial Aid Advising at Hopewell High School
  • *Drs. Singh and Bhuller Tri-Cities Outstanding Educator of the Year Award$3,000 to Ms. Rebecca Stroop, an art educator from JEJ Moore Middle School in Prince George County
  • *Preston and Anne Leake Teacher Recognition Award$1,000 to Ms. Antonia Thompson, a special education teacher from Carter G. Woodson Middle School in the City of Hopewell

*Grant provided in part or in whole through an endowment, a permanent fund created by a donor.

Read more about John Randolph’s recent award announcements here.

Robins Foundation

Reflecting the organization’s focus on helping transform the broad continuum of education in the Richmond region, Robins Foundation selected 12 local nonprofits to share in nearly $1 million in grants designed to improve educational outcomes for children in the Greater Richmond area.

The following is the complete list of June 2017 grantees:

  • CIS Richmond $125,000 for Integrated Student Support K-12
  • Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis $50,000 for Policy Improvements to Advance Educational Opportunities in Greater Richmond
  • CodeVA $100,000 for Building the Digital Dominion
  • FRIENDS Association for Children $45,000 for Stronger with FRIENDS
  • Greater Richmond Chamber $75,000 for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond
  • Greater Richmond Fit4Kids $50,000 for Wellness Integration Programming and Advocacy
  • Sacred Heart Center $100,000 for Responding to Critical Needs of the Latino Community
  • Storefront for Community Design $40,000 for 6PIC Operations
  • Virginia Early Childhood Foundation $50,000 for Establishing and Sustaining a Shared Services Alliance Model in Richmond
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children $75,000 for Engaging Advocates to Speak Up for Children & Families
  • YMCA Richmond $125,000 for Support for Oak Grove-Bellmeade Out-of-School Time Program
  • YWCA Richmond $125,000 for Sprout Preschool Initiative

Read more about their recent grant announcements here.

The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF)

TCF and its partners awarded $24M in grants through June 30th in 2017.  The majority of grantmaking from The Community Foundation is done at the direction of donors who chose to partner with them on their philanthropy. TCF is privileged to work with hundreds of individuals, families and businesses who enjoy the opportunity to focus on how they want to make a difference, while TCF takes care of the administrative details. Their collective generosity has resulted in $18 million in donor-directed grants for a variety of causes so far, this year!

Through June 30th, The Community Foundation and its funding partners – including the Jenkins Foundation, Pauley Family Foundation and REB Foundation – awarded $6 million in competitive grants. These are grants provided through an application process to support initiatives that address important community issues and build the capacity of organizations and their leaders.

Highlights of Competitive Grants through June 30th:

  • 4 outstanding public school principals recognized by the REB Foundation
  • 3 emerging nonprofit leaders recognized by the Stettinius Awards for Nonprofit Leadership
  • 184 scholarships awarded for post-secondary education
  • $1.7M for local organizations advancing cultural vibrancy, educational success and economic prosperity
  • $1.6M in health-related grants from the Jenkins Foundation
  • $600,000 to strengthen TCF’s affiliate communities in Mathews and the Middle Peninsula/Northern Neck

For a full list of the Competitive Grant Awards in TCF’s 4 Focus areas of Cultural Vibrancy, Economic Prosperity, Educational Success and Health and Wellness go here.

 

Cameron Foundation

The Cameron Foundation’s Board recently approved new grants totaling $1,421,406 to benefit residents of the Tri-Cities area. The funding supports the work of 25 organizations providing services across the region. The awards result from the first of the Foundation’s two annual responsive grant cycles, with the second cycle concluding in October.

Among the larger awards this cycle, the Foundation approved $105,000 in renewal funding to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Virginia for its ongoing work to stimulate economic development in the City of Petersburg.

The complete list of responsive grants for the June cycle includes:

  • Alzheimer’s Association–Greater Richmond Chapter – $22,300
  • American Red Cross–Southside Area Chapter – $25,000
  • Battersea Foundation – $100,000
  • Central Virginia Health Services, Inc. – $296,000
  • Chesterfield CASA, Inc. – $20,000
  • ChildSavers–Memorial Child Guidance Clinic – $33,351
  • City of Colonial Heights Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism – $49,975
  • Communities In Schools of Petersburg – $90,000
  • CultureWorks, Inc. – $15,000
  • Dinwiddie County Division of Planning and Community Development – $20,000
  • FLITE Foundation – $39,000
  • GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP) – $10,000
  • Greater Richmond Fit4Kids, Inc. – $45,000
  • Historic Petersburg Foundation, Inc. – $38,555
  • Hopewell Food Pantry – $35,000
  • HumanKind – $10,000
  • The Literacy Lab – $40,000
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Virginia – $105,000
  • Meadowview Biological Research Station – $10,000
  • NAMI Central Virginia – $26,120
  • Petersburg Garden Club – $40,500
  • Rawls Museum Arts, Inc. – $20,000
  • Southside Virginia Emergency Crew, Inc. – $30,605
  • Virginia’s Gateway Region, Inc. – $250,000
  • YMCA of Greater Richmond – $50,000

You can read more about the initiatives Cameron is supporting here.

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) announced $259,000 in grants to 13 nonprofits in the Richmond region. The spring cycle brings total grants and awards by RMHF to $1,697,318 for the 2017 Fiscal Year, which began on July 1, 2016.  RMHF’s Spring 2017 Grantmaking Cycle is designed to give nonprofit leaders in the Richmond region the resources to consider strategic questions confronting their organizations. In keeping with the Strategic Framework adopted last year, RMHF Trustees’ decisions were guided by each applicant’s alignment with the Foundation’s mission of fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond region.

Trustees also gave priority to organizations working in the oral and behavioral health fields, as well as those serving new populations, such as immigrants and refugees, who face significant barriers to basic health care.

The following grants were approved by Trustees at their May meeting:

  • Daily Planet – $25,000 to address strategic questions surrounding capacity needed to provide oral health care to Hispanic patients and pregnant women.
  • Sacred Heart Center – $25,000 to develop a strategic plan for improving outreach and communication in its role as a community hub providing services for the growing immigrant population that include hosting a medical clinic and food bank, and offering parenting classes that support good health.
  • Virginia Supportive Housing – $25,000 for development of a multi-year sustainability plan guiding training, capacity and systems to support a Medicaid reimbursement model for services.
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children – $25,000 to strengthen the organization’s communications capacity to increase public awareness statewide and ensure effective advocacy for children’s behavioral health services.
  • YWCA Richmond – $25,000 to develop a master plan guiding the organization’s capacity needs in response to expanding programs and growth in the number of clients and staff.
  • Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services – $20,000 to guide staff communications and development strategies aimed at ensuring a smooth transition from a group of separate locations to one common facility.
  • Health Brigade – $20,000 for a facilitated exploration of how to best serve the older adult LGBTQ population in the Richmond Region.
  • Armstrong Priorities Freshman Academy – $15,000 to support a behavioral specialist in a pilot program that could serve as a model for classroom management in other high schools.
  • Family Lifeline – $15,000 to explore diversification of program-generated income, an issue identified in the organization’s strategic business planning process.
  • Gateway Homes – $15,000 to improve efficiencies in reimbursements for behavioral health services and to ensure that procedures remain up to date in response to changes in Medicaid policies.
  • Central Virginia Health Services – $14,000 to train behavioral health staff to ensure a consistent and effective approach to behavior management for all patients.
  • Virginia Dental Association Foundation – $10,000 for development of a strategic communications strategy to strengthen education on the need for dental care and oral health, and to improve collaboration with program partners to build capacity.

Read more about Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s Grant Announcements here.

Check out ConnectVA’s Funding Resources page to learn about local funders, funding databases and charity registries and evaluators and subscribe to our Community Discussion Forum “Grants and Funding Opportunities” to get the latest updates on  grant, sponsorship, scholarship, fundraising and other funding opportunities, announcements and deadlines for nonprofits.

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News from the Community: Celebrating 10 Years of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders

On the 14th of June 22 rising nonprofit leaders representing 20 different local organizations were congratulated by community leaders, nonprofit peers and the City of Richmond’s Mayor on “a job well done” as the 10th class of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) commenced.

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

During the graduation ceremony, the leaders were awarded certificates and personal tributes, while Mayor Levar Stoney thanked them for their “commitment to the community”.

From left to right: Sherrie Brach Armstrong, CEO of The Community Foundation; Kathleen Demro, Vice President of Community Engagement, The Community Foundation; Levar Stoney, City of Richmond Mayor; Susan Wilkes, ENLP Lead Faculty. Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

Susan Wilkes was also given a special recognition for her commitment over the past 10 years as Lead Faculty for the program.  She said this about the 10th class, “the level of camaraderie and commitment of the ENLP ‘10 was impressive.   I loved the way they contributed actively to each other’s learning and growth, and were able to apply everything we discussed to bettering themselves and their organizations.  So many in the group are already making a tremendous difference in our community.  With what one called the “power boost” of ENLP, they are going to have a strong upward leadership trajectory!”

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program is a dynamic eight-month experience for the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. During the program, participants 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.

The program has demonstrated measurable results, building a cadre of talented leaders for the future of the Greater Richmond community.

In addition to participating in engaging sessions on topics including strategic leadership, organizational change, collaboration, and coaching others, participants:

  • Experience team building through a rigorous and challenging outdoor course setting
  • Increase awareness of their leadership through a thorough assessment process
  • Benefit from individual leadership coaching, provided by professionals with experience in leadership development and nonprofit management
  • Interact with five local exemplary Executives-in-Residence in a forum where they share their experiences and perspectives

Sherrie Brach Armstrong, President & CEO of The Community Foundation praised the program, saying, “our local nonprofit sector depends on a strong, well-supported network of leaders to create a better future and lasting results for our community. The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program creates connections among individuals who have a desire to create positive change and further empowers them to grow in their careers. We congratulate the Class of 2017 and look forward to the many ways they will help shape our region in the years to come.”

The program also offers periodic alumni networking and continued learning experiences, including a new offering this year called “Transforming RVA.” Throughout the spring, 11 ENLP alumni participated in a series of small-group discussions with transformational leaders in the  field, including Damon Jiggetts of Peter Paul Development Center, Tanya Gonzalez of The Sacred Heart Center, Lisa Frieman of the Institute for Contemporary Art and Jon Lugbill of Sports Backers. Together, the group explored their own sources of inspiration, how they inspire others through a common vision, how to sustain themselves through challenging times and how they use innovation and collaboration to facilitate positive change for our region. With continuous learning as a cornerstone to the ENLP program, graduates are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities.

Any nonprofit professional interested in applying for ENLP in the future should attend an upcoming information session on July 11th or 26th.

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program 2016-2017 class. Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

The 2016-2017 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Graduates are:

Congrats ENLP class of 2016-2017!

Photo Credit: Kim Lee Photography

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News from the Community: TCF Announces Grant Awards

The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF) awarded over $2 Million to 47 local organizations through their community grant making program along with The Jenkins Foundation, a supporting foundation that focuses its grant program on improving health care in the region. Each year, a portion of The Community Foundation’s grant making is awarded through a competitive process, in which local organizations apply for funding for programs and operations. The process is guided by a framework in which the Foundation identifies nonprofit partners that are effectively, and many times collaboratively, working to lift up Richmond as a place where all of its residents can thrive.

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News from the Community: Updates from the Capital Region Collaborative

On Friday March 10th, The Capital Region Collaborative (CRC) shared important updates to their regional work in a community-wide meeting. A captive audience listened intently as CRC Organizers, elected officials, local nonprofit leaders and even the Mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney, discussed the “shared vision for our region” and the ways that our community must work together, across sectors, to achieve this goal.

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News from the Community: Nonprofit Social Media Strategy Winners

Last Wednesday was the final nonprofit presentations for the VCU Social Media Institute, which combines undergraduate and graduate students from Virginia Commonwealth University with college students from Iraq in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for a one-of-a-kind social media project.

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Over a four-week period, the students developed and implemented social media projects for nonprofit organizations in RVA, including:

RVA Music School and Outreach
Sabot at Stony Point
GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)
Youth Life Foundation of Richmond
Dress for Success Central Virginia
Connor’s Heroes Foundation
Beds for Kids, Inc.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Virginia Center for Health Innovation
College Behavioral and Emotional Health Initiative (COBE)
VCU College of Humanities and Sciences

ConnectVA had the honor of judging the presentations and selecting the winners, along with Alix Bryan of CBS6 and Nathan Hughes, founding member of the Social Media Club Richmond and Executive Vice President & CFO at Bandazian & Hughes.

We saw many great social media strategies – great campaigns with smart hashtags, video projects, new media being incorporated and ways to help the nonprofits get organized when implementing!

Last week we critiqued the projects and gave an overview of recommendations for social media strategy; we also created this handy ConnectVA Guide to Social Media Best Practices 2015 for the students (and YOU).

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The Finalists

3rd Place: RVA Music School and Outreach

RVA Music School and Outreach is a BRAND NEW nonprofit; when the students started the project with them, all the owner had was a personal Facebook page for promotional purposes!  The students changed the name from Bryan Park Music Studio, defined their target audience, created a website (that’s also responsively designed!), created clever video campaigns to put on YouTube, and set up Instagram and Facebook accounts (that already has 150 followers!).

The students went even further, creating content ideas for the budding nonprofit, guidelines for posting, hashtag campaigns, tracking, evaluation and measurement guidelines, and even a few fundraising ideas!

We were so impressed as judges by the amount they were able to accomplish in 4 weeks!  The students truly gave RVA Music School and Outreach a solid foundation to build their online and social media presence!

Runner Up: Sabot at Stony Point

Sabot at Stoney Point is a nonprofit school in Richmond, Virginia who serves students from preschool to 8th grade and has an Italian-based teaching curriculum – Reggio Emilia.  The nonprofit already had a fairly solid following on Facebook and the teachers write regular blog posts!

The VCU students assisting Sabot at Stoney Point did a fantastic job of providing the nonprofit with a robust Social Media Strategy and campaign ideas!  We were really impressed with how they distinctly defined the audience they were trying to reach and chose specific platforms to prioritize, based on those findings!

One of the most exciting parts of the Social Media Strategy was the content schedule the students created – with ideas of interesting posts and questions for the coordinator to post each day of the week!  Look out for the campaign #SabotStories on Instagram and Twitter!  The students also gave guides for the nonprofit as they redesign their new website, to make it responsive and implement best practices!

The Winner:  GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)

GRASP is a nonprofit that aids and assists high school seniors with funding for post-secondary education. By working with the students from VCU, they hoped to accomplish three main priorities: 1) increase engagement with social media followers 2) increase followers among high school seniors 3) educate the organization internally on the importance of social media.

WOW!  The students did an excellent job of putting together a solid plan for GRASP, including tips for their Facebook page, where they’ve helped put together “How has GRASP helped you?” video campaigns featuring former scholarship recipients, an internal Facebook group open only to advisors around the state to work on coordination, a Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube account.  Most exciting was seeing the WordPress blog site that the students created for the nonprofit, and an editorial calendar using this awesome new tool called CoSchedule!

Taking the strategy a step further, the students provided guidance on tracking, measuring, analytics, and fundraising campaigns.  They put together 7 videos and 9 infographics and even a training for internal staff on ways to use social media and best practices.  The CEO, Paula Buckley, and Board Chair were in attendance at the final presentation and could not have been more thrilled!  They commented that the presentation was submitted to the entire board and they will begin implementation immediately!

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All in all, the students were incredibly impressive – they were able to accomplish so much in 4 weeks; it was truly unreal!  Thanks to VCU Social Media Institute for letting us be a part of this fantastic program and the commitment that you have to our nonprofit community!

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News from the Community: Shalom Farms Grows Through OIP

How a local nonprofit took the fast-track to organizational improvement

ConnectVA recently met up with the Executive Director of Shalom Farms, Dominic Barrett, to learn how participating in a 12 week cohort-based assessment process allowed the organization to strengthen its strategic direction.

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The Organizational Improvement Process (OIP), offered by PNE’s Organizational Solutions, allows organizations to receive an in-depth look at infrastructure, operational effectiveness and sustainability, including directional strategies.  Executive Directors and Board members take online assessments, attend workshops, are paired with a consultant and learn from peer organizations during the process.

Here’s what Domenic had to say about Shalom Farms and the OIP:

First, tell us a little about your organization.

Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm project that started in 2008 with the overarching goal of increasing food security in the Richmond region, particularly in low-income urban neighborhoods. Our work is concentrated in the East End, Southside and Northside of Richmond City, although our 6-acre farm is located in Goochland.

Our programs center around 1) growing an array of healthy produce to provide to under-served communities 2) providing introductory experiential learning opportunities for children and adults on growing food, overcoming barriers to cooking and eating nutritionally and food-based entrepreneurship, and 3) linking community groups to a wide range of resources and partners, using a strengths-based approach to build individual and community self-sufficiency.

Our work thrives because of our 4,500 volunteers who work on the farm each year to grow and harvest over 75,000 lbs. of organic produce and the partnerships that we build with other organizations with similar missions, like FeedMore, Peter Paul Development Center and CHAT.

From your point of view, what is the OIP?

The OIP, to me, was like going to a Travel Agent to plan an upcoming vacation.

While you can always plan it yourself, it’s much more efficient and effective to have an outsider who understands the process, puts a comprehensive package together for you that is heavily discounted, and sends you on a vacation with 3 of your peers who want to go on the same type of vacation as you, and you get to experience it together.

 

What was the need for Shalom Farms before starting OIP?

All organizations have room for growth, and we recognized that we needed support with capacity building in order to take our organization, the board, and our programming to the next level.

We believed we had 3 real core needs going into the process – 1) strategic planning, 2) a fundraising plan and 3) an understanding of our strengths in leveraging the farm and volunteer opportunities.

We knew that with any real investment, the process would take time and require attention by both me and our Board Members.  After a recommendation from past participant Tricycle Gardens and learning that the other organizations in the cohort were similar in mission, size and need we decided to move forward.

What did you discover during the process?

Going through the assessment process and working with our chosen consultant, we really affirmed the needs that we believed we had going in.  Now, we needed an action plan to move forward and time to break away from our programming for long-term planning.

The OIP consultant was instrumental in providing a recommendation report and a capacity building plan that reflected what we learned – sort of like a road map for our journey.

If you decide to make an investment like this, or a funder recommends going through this process, make sure to make the time for it and be clear about what it is that you want coming out of it.  Be selfish about what’s best for your organization.   You don’t have to know exactly what your organization needs to be successful in the process, but you should know the questions that you want answered and exactly why you are participating.

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What was the impact and what’s next for your organization?

First of all, the relationships that we built, not only within our cohort, but with participating consultants in the region, have been extremely beneficial.  We are now working on a Fund Development Strategy, focusing on individual donors from the priorities highlighted during the process.

Soon we will be unveiling new branding that we developed with Campfire & Co. – check out our new logo and get a preview of changes to come on our Facebook page.

We are solidifying our current programming and working on evaluation, as well as working with the City of Richmond to expand our Produce Prescription Plan into Resource Centers.

The knowledge that we gained from OIP will strategically help us as we begin early stages of farm expansion in 18 to 24 months from now and continue to bring valuable programs and resources to our community for years to come.

 

Are you interested in learning more about participating in Organizational Assessments or the Organizational Improvement Process? Organizational Solutions is looking for its next round of participants – applications due August 17th.  Read more here.

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