Nonprofit news roundup, 04.24.15

Nonprofit boards seen as ineffective

A new survey supports a long-held belief that many nonprofit boards of directors are ineffective, say researchers at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

A significant minority of 924 members of nonprofit board surveyed were not sure of their organization’s mission and strategy, dissatisfied with their ability to evaluate their organization’s performance, and uncertain whether their fellow board members have the experience to do their jobs well.

Still, nearly all directors surveyed believe the organization’s executive director understands the mission well, 87 percent are satisfied with the executive director’s performance, and 85 percent are satisfied with their organization’s overall performance.

The survey found:

* 27 percent of board members don’t think their colleagues have a strong understanding of the mission and strategy.

* 65 percent don’t think their board is very experienced, and roughly half don’t think their colleagues are very engaged in their work.

* 46 percent have little or no confidence that the performance data they review accurately measures their organization’s success.

* 32 percent don’t think their board can evaluate their organization’s performance.

* 42 percent don’t have an audit committee, and many rely on monthly bank statements to monitor financial performance.

* 57 percent don’t benchmark their performance against peer groups.

* 39 percent don’t establish performance targets for their executive directors.

* Two-thirds don’t have a succession plan in place.

*  78 couldn’t immediately name a successor if the current executive were to leave suddenly.

Alamance United Way investing in public transit

United Way of Alamance County will give $100,000 to support the new public bus system the City of Burlington expects to launch in the spring of 2016.

United Way says it is making the investment because the new transit system will provide people in need with an affordable way to get to work or school or to appointments for health and human services.

United Way also says earnings from investments and other funds it has accumulated through its fiscal management have generated $200,000 it will be able to use, in addition to funds from its current annual campaign, to support health-and-human-services programs in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Heidi Norwick, United Way president, said the campaign so far has raised $1.3 million and likely will raise as much as the $1,586,000 it raised a year ago.

YMCA of Garner raises $5.5 million

YMCA of Garner, a branch of YMCA of the Triangle, has raised $5.5 million in the silent phase of a capital campaign to raise money to build a permanent YMCA facility in Garner.

It will launch the public phase this spring.

Women’s Fund to give over $100,000

The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem expects to grant over $100,000 to local nonprofits that serve women and girls, and is seeking proposals that focus on their economic security.

An initiative of The Winston-Salem Foundation, the Women’s Fund has awarded over $1.1 million since 2007.

The 2015 grants will be awarded at The Women’s Fund 10th Annual Luncheon in November 2015.

Dining for Friends to benefit Triad Health Project

Triad Health Project, an HIV/AIDS service organization, will hold its 26th Annual Dining for Friends this spring to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and funds for the organization.

Individuals and groups are invited to host a Dinner with Friends event. And a Grand Dessert Finale for all sponsors, hosts and guests will be held May 16 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at The Terrace at The Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

Community Matters raises $73,000

Community Matters, an insurance-industry group that supports selected nonprofit partners, raised $72,578 at its Fourth Annual Dodgeball Tournament.

Family Promise volunteers serve 6,000 meals

Family Promise of Greater Guilford County says its volunteers have served over 6,000 meals over the last 11 months, provided over 2,000 hours of support at its shelter, donated supplies, toiletries and household items, and made financial contributions.

Staunch to chair board at North Carolina Community Foundation

Linda Staunch, president and CEO of Linda Staunch & Associates, a public relations and marketing firm in New Bern, has been named chair of the statewide board of directors of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

Becoat joins UNC development office

Paulette Becoat, for manager for fundraising and special events at the American Diabetes Association, has been named assistant director of stewardship services in the Office of Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rock concert to benefit charity

The Fifth Annual Rock Your World Free Benefit Concert will be held May 8 from 6 p.m. to  11 p.m. at RallyPoint Sport Grill in Cary.  Donations from the free event will benefit Hope for Haiti Foundation and Dew4Him Ministries.

Thompson to hold annual luncheon

Thompson, a Charlotte-based provider of clinical and prevention services for children and families across the Carolinas, will hold its 13th annual benefit luncheon at April 28 at noon at The Westin Charlotte.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to hold walks in Triangle

The Carolinas Raleigh Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will hold walks on May 16 at 9 a.m. at the Research Triangle Park campus of Credit Suisse and at Halifax Mall in Raleigh.

Youth Grantmakers in Action gives $1,900

Youth Grantmakers in Action, an initiative of The Winston-Salem Foundation for  youth ages 15 to 18, awarded four grants totaling $1,900 to projects serving youth in Forsyth County.

Since its first round of grants in 2006, the group has awarded over $18,000 to youth-led community projects.

Housing for New Hope to hold annual breakfast

Housing for New Hope in Durham will hold its annual Rays of Hope breakfast on May 5 at 7:30 a.m. at PNC Triangle Club at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Make the most of your nonprofit’s mistakes

Overcoming a problem at your nonprofit is a great opportunity not just to learn from a mistake but also to help your staff, board, supporters and partners see how you are working to improve the way you do business.

Did your annual fund or capital campaign fall short of its goal? Did your earned revenue miss its target? Was the impact of one of your programs less than you expected it to be?

If in response to disappointing results your nonprofit took stock of itself, identified what had gone wrong, and adjusted your operations, programs or expectations, one outcome ought to be better results.

Another possible outcome, often overlooked, is the opportunity to tell a great story about the way your organization adapts to problems.

So tell that story.

Explain what you did to identify the problem and its cause. What metrics, outcomes and business processes did you look at?

Describe your method for finding a solution. What roles did your staff and board play, as well as any consultants you may have hired?

Spell out your new approach. What are your new goals, what indicators are you using to measure success, and what results are you showing?

And talk about the lessons your nonprofit has learned. How will you now be able to better serve the people who count on you for services, and what difference will you make in their lives?

Keep your story short, and use language that is clear and easy to understand.

And, as appropriate, share your story with the audiences you depend on to do your job, including your staff and board, your donors, funders and other supporters and partners, and your constituents.

Problems are opportunities for your organization to learn and grow. Learning and growing, in turn, are opportunities to show your supporters and partners your nonprofit means business and is working to make the most of the investment they make in you to better serve your community.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Nonprofit enlists students to fight violence

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In the 2013-14 school year, while the number of reportable acts of crime and violence in North Carolina schools fell 4.7 percent to 11,608, the number of assaults on school personnel by students grew 14.4 percent to 1,333, and the number of sexual assaults grew 38.8 percent to 179, according to state data.

From 2004 to 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 2,814 North Carolina residents ages 10 to 24 died as a result of violence, including 1,252 deaths from suicide.

And 20 percent to 30 percent of U.S. students say they have been bullied at school, while 70 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.

Working to prevent violence by raising awareness among students, helping them manage conflicts, and engaging them in service projects in their schools and communities is the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere, or SAVE, a Raleigh-based nonprofit.

“School violence has become more accepted in society,” says Carleen Wray, executive director of SAVE. “We are desensitized to it. Students are growing up with bullying.”

Starting with a group that students at West Charlotte High School created in 1989 after the death of a student who was trying to break up a fight at an off-campus party, SAVE now has established 2,140 chapters in 48 states and seven countries.

SAVE operates with an annual budget of $250,000, two full-time employees and 75 volunteers. It gets 75 percent of its funds from contributions, and the rest from $100 annual dues that chapters pay, the sale of educational materials and items, in-kind support, and an annual summit that in March attracted 400 people from eight states.

SAVE chapters, which operate at elementary, middle and high schools, and at community organizations, offer a range of programs.

At Garner High School, with part of a $75,000 grant to SAVE from AllState Insurance to promote safe-driving efforts at 20 North Carolina chapters, faculty adviser Vickie Szarek is working with students to raise awareness about auto accidents, which are the number one cause of death among teens.

At Chapel Hill High School, SAVE students painted over a graffiti-filled wall and cleaned up garbage in the area to create a “Peace Garden.”

And at Cuthbertson High School in Waxaw just southeast of Charlotte, students hold an annual drive to collect teddy bears they distribute to children at a domestic-violence shelter, where the students read stories to the children.

SAVE formerly was a program of the state Center for the Prevention of School Violence, which in 1994 held 12 town hall meetings throughout the state to try to find a model it could help replicate in schools and community groups.

The Center adopted the SAVE model from West Charlotte High School after learning about it at a town hall meeting. It became a separate nonprofit in 2001, when it also received a five-year grant of $350,000 a year from Chevrolet that helped it add at least 200 chapters a year.

Bullying, physical assaults, drug deals and other violence and crimes have “become a norm” in elementary, middle and high schools, Wray says.

And while metal detectors may help improve the security of schools, she says, understanding the family, mental and other issues that students bring with them to school is critical to prevent violence.

“We really try to reach students and give them the life skills and education and knowledge to create safe environments for themselves in their school and their community,” she says.

To help do that, SAVE focuses on relationships among students and with teachers and administrators.

Bullies bully, for example, because of an “imbalance of power,” Wray says.

“You aren’t a victim unless it’s continued and repeating,” she says. “If one other students steps up for a student being targeted, bullying is more likely to stop.”

A key to preventing youth and school violence is to “talk to kids,” Wray says. “They have wonderful ideas, they know what’s going on in the school and community, and they truly want to make a difference and be part of the solution.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.17.15

Merged Planned Parenthood names CEO

Jenny Black, former CEO of Planned Parenthood of New Mexico and of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, has been named president and CEO of Raleigh-based Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

The affiliate, formed earlier this year through the merger of Planned Parenthood Health Systems and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, operates 15 health centers in the Carolinas, West Virginia, and Blue Ridge area of Virginia.

Greensboro United Way raises $11.1 million

United Way of Greater Greensboro raised $11.1 million in its 2014-15 fundraising campaign.

The effort, which did not set a goal, marks the second straight year of campaign growth.

Last year, when it also did not set a goal, United Way raised $11 million, exceeding the previous year’s total by $800,000 and posting its first year-over-year increase in five years.

Over 500 organizations participated in the 2014-15 campaign, over 15,000 individuals contributed, and over 1,400 donors gave $1,000 or more

Chairing the campaign was Jason Bohrer, president and partner at management consulting firm Newbold Advisors.  

Public School Forum raps school-performance grading system

North Carolina’s A-F School Performance Grading system serves only to label schools based on the family income of the students served and does not provide support to help struggling schools improve, the Public School Forum of North Carolina says.

In the first year of school performance letter grades, among 325 district and public charter schools throughout the state with low-income students that account for at least 85 percent of all students — the state’s highest-poverty schools — none received an A, and only two received B’s, the Public School Forum says in “A is for Affluent,” an issue brief.

And among 222 schools with low-income students accounting for less than 25 percent of all students, none received an F and only one received a D.

Nearly 90 percent of those schools received A’s or B’s.

 “The current school grading system does little more than identify schools that serve students from low-income families,” said Keith Poston, president and executive director of the Public School Forum. “If the intent is to capture how well schools serve students, a better approach would be to place a much greater emphasis on student academic improvement year over year.”

GSK, North Carolina New Schools partner on STEM

Drugmaker GSK and North Carolina New Schools are teaming up on a new effort to boost public education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and tie it to industry and higher education.

GSK is making a $1 million investment in the new STEMAccelerator, a project of North Carolina School that aims to speed effective STEM education strategies focused on improving math and science instruction, and develop new strategies.

Nonprofits want better data to track performance

Most nonprofits that receive funding from big foundations collect and use information about their performance, yet many want to gather additional or better data, and only a minority say they get support to do that from their foundation funders, a new report says.

Nearly all nonprofits among 183 surveyed for the report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy say they make efforts to assess their performance, but seven in 10 respondents say they want more detailed data, a larger volume of data, or data that is collected more frequently to help them perform better to advance their goals.

The report, “Assessing to Achieve High Performance: What Nonprofits are Doing and How Foundations Can Help,” analyzes survey data from organizations based in the U.S. with $100,000 to $100 million in annual expenses that received funding from foundations giving at least $5 million a year.

Foundation support for black males growing

In 2012, the latest year for which data are available, 98 foundations made $64.6 million in grants explicitly intended to benefit black men and boys, says a report from the Foundation Center and the Campaign for Black Achievement.

That total was up from $40.4 million a year earlier and continues rising trend, says the report, “Quantifying Hope: Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys.”

Over half of all foundation funding for black males from 2003 to 2012 was distributed in the most recent three years.

Americans favor charity tax deduction

Most Americans oppose limiting, capping or eliminating the charitable tax deduction as part of any tax reform, according to a Dunham+Company study conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research.

Fifty-four percent of Americans said they opposed changing the deduction, while only 35 percent favored changes as part of tax reform, a stated priority of the Republican-controlled Congress, Dunham+Company says.

Victory Junction teams with Ronald McDonald House

Victory Junction, a camp in Randleman for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses, is partnering with Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill to provide camp-like activities to residents and their families once a month.

Staff from Victory Junction and volunteers from Carolinas Credit Union Foundation will bring camp activities to Ronald McDonald House every third Thursday of the month.

AT&T a sponsor for Folk Festival

AT&T North Carolina will serve as Artists-in-the-Schools Sponsor for the 2015 National Folk Festival, which will feature 300 artists on seven stages over three days in downtown Greensboro from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13, 2015.

Co-produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts and ArtsGreensboro, the Festival this year begins a three-year residency in downtown Greensboro.

Law firms recognized for food bank campaign

Five law firms have been recognized for their support of efforts by the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association in the annual “Legal Feeding Frenzy” campaign of the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks to restock stock shelves at food banks in the state.

In this year’s statewide campaign, which ran from March 9 to March 27, North Carolina law firms and related organizations competed in categories based on their employee count. 

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Research Triangle Park contributed the most pounds overall.

Other winners included Simonsen Law Firm in Edenton in the Sole Proprietor Division; Rose Harrison & Gilreath in Kill Devil Hills in the Small Firm Division; Bell, Davis & Pitt in Winston-Salem and Charlotte in the Medium Division; Moore & Van Allen in the Large Firm Division; and Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem in the Law School Division.

Autism Society offers guide for parents, guardians

The Autism Society of North Carolina has released “Accessing Services” a free guide for parents and guardians of children and adults on the autism spectrum about services and supports that may be available to them and their families in North Carolina and how to obtain them. 

Event to benefit Triad Health Project

Friends and supporters of Triad Health Project, an HIV/AIDS service and support organization, are hosting the inaugural Ribbons & Roses for THP, a Kentucky Derby-themed Dining for Friends party, on May 2 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the historic Briles House at 1103 N. Main Street in High Point.

Barnabas Network gets donation

Matrix is donating over $30,000 worth of children’s beds, nightstands, dressers, and desks to The Barnabas Network, a nonprofit furniture bank serving individuals and families in Guilford and nearby counties.

Elias receives humanitarian award

Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of marketing-and-sales firm Red Ventures, has received the Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Award, presented annually to an individual or group for  service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

Named for the retired UNC Charlotte professor who established the program, the award is facilitated by Foundation For The Carolinas and includes a $6,000 cash gift, which was presented to Golden Door Scholars in Elias’ honor.

Raleigh Junior Woman’s Club to hold wine raffle

The Junior Woman’s Club of Raleigh will hold its Third Annual Stock Your Cellar Wine Raffle on April 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Mia Francesca Trattoria at North Hills.

Dinner to benefit nonprofits

Pilot Benefits will host a dinner at a Greensboro home on May 21 from  5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to benefit local nonprofits.

Featured at the dinner will be author and speaker Jennifer Pharr Davis, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

For information, call 336-230-2007, ext. 208.

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.14.15

Leadership changes at Kenan Trust, Kenan Funds

The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust has a new chief, and the head of The William R. Kenan Jr. Funds has left the organization.

Doug Zinn, assistant executive director of the Kenan Trust, in Chapel Hill, was named executive director in January, succeeding Richard Krasno, who retired after 15 years as executive director.

Mark Bensen left in late February as president of the Chapel Hill-based Kenan Funds, which support Kenan Institutes at N.C. State University, at the Kenan-Flager Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the UNC School of the Arts, and at Duke University.

Dan Drake, a former board member for the Funds, has been named interim president.

Before joining the Kenan Trust in September 2012, Zinn served for over 30 years as executive director of the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham.

Bensen, who joined the Kenan Funds in July 2013, previously had served as president and CEO of Triangle Community Foundation in Durham.

He left the community foundation in October 2012 after less than two months on the job.

Before joining the community foundation, Bensen was executive vice president of Durham-based think-tank MDC Inc.

New executive director at Center for Public Policy Research quits

Linda Struyk Millsaps, who last September was named executive director of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, has resigned to become research director for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Nancy Richmond Rose, director of operations and finance for the Center, has been named acting director.

Millsaps, who was assistant secretary and chief operating officer for the state Department of Revenue before joining the Center, succeeded Ran Coble as executive director after he retired.

She continues to work with the Center on a contractual basis through April, and begins her new job May 1.

Peggy Valentine, chair of the board of directors at the Center and dean of health sciences at Winston-Salem State University, says the board is putting together a transition plan for the organization.

The search that led to the hiring of Millsaps took nearly six months, Valentine says, and was handled by Triangle consulting firm Moss+Ross.

CEO out at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina

Bud Lavery, who joined Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina in July 2013 as president and CEO, has left the organization.

Lavery and Tommy Schenck, chair of the board of directors at Prevent Child Abuse and general manager at WCHL Viacom in Chapel Hill, each declined to comment.

Lavery, whose last day at work was Friday and who formerly was executive director of Communities in Schools of Durham, succeeded Rosie Allen Ryan, who had served as president and CEO since 2008.

Founding executive director leaving Pat’s Place

Anne Pfeiffer, founding executive director at Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center in Charlotte, has resigned after 13 years.

The nonprofit’s board of directors plans to hire an independent interim executive director soon to work with Pfeiffer before she leaves in late May for Ohio to be closer to her mother, who is experiencing health issues, Linda Komanduri, board chair, says in an email message announcing the change.

The board has formed a search committee to look for a permanent executive director.

Pat’s Place, formed to provide a coordinated response for victims of child sexual abuse, has served over 3,500 children in Mecklenburg County.

Competition spurs collaborative ideas to fix local problems

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Triangle Community Foundation.]

RALEIGH, N.C. –At stake was a $25,000 grant from Triangle Community Foundation.

Competing for the funds were five groups of partners, selected from more than 50 partnerships that had submitted proposals in response to a request for ideas for innovative, collaborative solutions to community problems.

Each group had 10 minutes to pitch its proposal to a panel of five judges, and another five minutes to answer questions from the panel.

The groups said they would use the grant dollars to develop:

* A storefront in downtown Siler City to serve as “Idea Centro” and engage residents, particularly Hispanics, develop them as leaders, and produce new thinking and economic growth.

* A pre-K class for four-year-olds at a year-round center for children and youth in an impoverished Raleigh neighborhood, combined with services for their parents, to help families break the cycle of poverty.

* A center to process and distribute food at a new food hub in Durham that aims to provide a market for local farmers and a source of food for agencies that serve people in need.

* A 200-square-foot home to serve as a model dwelling for people with mental-health challenges living at a Chatham County farm that aims to help them become self-sufficient.

* A food trailer to employ men and women in Durham who get out of prison, and help them develop the skills they need to survive in the workplace.

The competition marked the fourth year Triangle Community Foundation had hosted its Innovation Award, an effort to stimulate new ideas and collaborations to address community problems.

The award aims “to seed an innovative idea and gives nonprofits involved an opportunity to think outside the box, to move the needle on a community issue,” Lori O’Keefe, the Foundation’s president, told several dozen guests who attended the event.

The five finalists, she said, all were winners that “think innovatively and collaboratively.”

Claiming victory at the close of the event was the Bull City Cool Food Hub Collaboration. And thanks to donors to the Foundation, each of the other semifinalists received $7,000.

The competition

The Innovation Award event was held March 20 at HQ Raleigh, a shared workspace in the warehouse district of downtown Raleigh designed to boost entrepreneurialism.

With competitors waiting and watching from adjacent space, each finalist group had five minutes to set up any visual presentation it had prepared.

Then, standing in front of the five judges and the audience of guests, each group made its pitch.

To prepare for the competition, the finalists had participated in a “pitch workshop” in February led by BC/DC Ideas, a Raleigh consulting firm that works with nonprofits.

Judges at the final event included its chair, Easter Maynard, director of community investment for Investors Management Corporation and a member of the Foundation’s board of directors; Scott Crawford, chef and co-owner of Standard Foods; David Dodson, president of MDC, a Durham think-tank; Aaron Houghton, co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite, a website firm in Durham; Donovan Moxey, CEO of Interactive Multimedia Solutions and IBS International; and Steven Pearson, manager of corporate citizens and corporate affairs at IBM.

Boosting growth in Siler City

The Latino community in Siler City has grown to nearly half the rural county’s population of 8,100 residents from less than one percent in 1980.

Yet despite the loss of 1,700 jobs between 2007 and 2012 with the closing of furniture, textile and food-processing plants, Hispanics have stayed in Siler City.

Now, a collaboration known as Siler City Unidos is working to transform a storefront in downtown Siler City into “pop-up community center” known as “Idea Centro” that will engage partner agencies, foster civic participation and leadership among all residents, particularly, Hispanic, and generate ideas for developing the downtown area.

The collaboration includes Chatham Economic Development Corporation, Siler City Development Organization, Communities in Schools of Chatham County, the town of Siler City, and other groups.

The group told the judges at the competition that the challenges facing Siler City “have led to a willingness to try things that haven’t been tried before.”

Breaking poverty cycle in Raleigh

In Raleigh, where the number of residents living in poverty nearly doubled from 2000 to 2012, the poverty rate is 16 percent. In the 27610 zip-code area in southeast Raleigh, the poverty rate is 22.7 percent, nearly one in three households with children under age 18 lives in poverty, and the number of children living in poverty has grown 46 percent since 2008.

To find a way to help break the local cycle of poverty between generations, the executive directors of seven nonprofits have been meeting for the past year.

Known as the Wake Collaborative, the partners include Community Partnerships, Council for Entrepreneurial Development, The Daniel Center for Math and Science, SouthLight Healthcare, StepUp Ministries, Triangle Family Services, and Wake County SmartStart.

Their solution is to create a class for 18 four-year-olds at The Daniel Center, an after-school and summer program for children and teens, and to provide support services for their parents.

The pilot program, which would include an outdoor area for play and fitness, would remove a big barrier for parents to find jobs, while also creating jobs at the Center, the group told the panel of judges.

The pilot class would be expanded over time to eventually provide support for a broad “pipeline” of constituents, from pregnant mothers to children and teens, along with families.

The goal is provide support for the same children and their families as the children move into young adulthood.

Linking local farmers, hungry people

One in four children in North Carolina is at risk of hunger, yet small and mid-sized farmers in the state lack access to local markets.

In North Carolina, which lacks big food-processing facilities, bigger farms typically ship their produce to industrial food processors outside the state, but smaller farms in the state often must sell unprocessed produce directly to consumers.

The missing piece for small farms is to add a food-processing center to a food hub that houses businesses that buy food from small farmers and sell it to agencies that serve people in need.

Known as the Bull City Cool Food Hub Collaboration, partners include Farmer Foodshare, Reinvestment Partners, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and Durham County County Soil and Conservation.

The food hub, which buys produce from small and mid-sized farms, will process and store food, and distribute it to agencies that serve hungry people.

The Collaboration already has secured $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was seeking $25,000 from Triangle Community Foundation so it could develop the processing center at the hub.

The processing center would have a “multiplier” effect on the Foundation’s investment by generating more income for farmers, more food for people in need, and an economic boost for the area of downtown Durham that is home to the hub, the group told the judges.

Housing people with mental illness

In the U.S., 2.2 million people with mental illness get no treatment. And in North Carolina, 40 percent of homeless people have chronic mental illness.

Providing treatment and a place to live for people facing mental-health challenges is the focus of a partnership that includes The Farm at Penny Lane, a farm in Chatham County that grows and produces food for people living with mental illness; Habitat for Humanity of Chatham County; XDS, a nonprofit that works with people with mental illness and owns the property the farm operates on; and the Center for Excellence in Community Health in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Known as the Tiny Home Pilot, the partnership wants to build a 200-square-foot home on the farm that would serve as a kind of model home for mentally-ill individuals.

Based on stays of a week or two to get feedback from temporary occupants, the partnership then would work with Habitat Chatham to build an initial cluster of three tiny homes for individuals in Chatham County, including some who also could receive support from the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health at UNC.

The occupants would apply for no-interest loans from Habitat and would own the homes.

The effort, which could grow to include additional clusters of three tiny homes each and eventually become a small community on the farm, aims to help people with mental illness avoid homelessness, become more self-sufficient, and improve the quality of their lives, the group told the judges.

Jobs for ex-prisoners

Eighty percent of men and women who return home to Durham from prison have no education credentials and no real work experience, and 60 percent still are unemployed after a year.

A partnership of three Durham groups aims to create a food trailer to provide people getting out of prison with jobs and support services to equip them to make the transition to civilian life.

Known as Second Helpings, the partnership includes the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, Core Catering Company, and Durham County Criminal Justice Resource Center, a county agency.

The idea, modeled on nonprofit Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, will employ ex-prisoners and provide them with case management and “wraparound” support services.

The skills that inmates must master in prison are not the skills they need to master to survive in the workplace after they leave prison, the group told the judges.

At Second Helpings, they said, a criminal conviction will not be a barrier to employment but a requirement.

When fully operating, the food trailer aims to employ eight people each working 20 hours a week.

Innovation matters

Key to the winning proposal was the “crucial nature of the collaboration between the organizations, and the innovative way they were going to have a multiple impact,” says Maynard, who chaired the panel of judges.

“They would not be able to achieve their goal if they were not working in collaboration,” she says. “We were looking for authentic collaboration.”

The winning proposal will provide a market for farmers, and food for agencies that serve hungry people while giving an economic boost to the neighborhood, she says.

Overall, the Innovation Award competition “was a real awakening to the Foundation about the quality of thought leadership in the nonprofit sector, and clear evidence of the innovative activity that’s happening out there all the time,” Maynard says.

“It also gives us an opportunity, through just one award, to celebrate several organizations and help build skills and not just write a check,” she says.

In addition to a grant to the winning proposal, all finalists received training in pitching their proposals, and then got an opportunity to make their pitches before judges and an audience, and to connect with one another, she says.

“The public nature of it,” she says, “fostered a lot more conversation and dialogue and interest.”