Nonprofit news roundup, 04.29.16

New Schools shutting down

North Carolina New Schools, a nonprofit that got millions of dollars in its effort to improve high-school education, is shutting down in the face of financial problems, published reports say.

The nonprofit, based in Research Triangle Park, told 70 full-time employees and two-part time employees on Thursday they would be paid through the end of the week.

Tony Habit, who has served as president of New Schools since it was launched 13 years ago, quit Wednesday and did not respond to requests for comment, reports say.

Jeffrey Corbett, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors, told The News & Observer in Raleigh that the organization “ran into cash-flow problems that were directly related to growth and the speed of growth.”

New Schools has received millions of dollars in donations and federal grants, including nearly $26 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a $20 million grant in 2014, and a $15 million grant in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Education, reported.

It initially focused on starting smaller high schools, then expanded to support early-college high schools, regional speciality high schools, and schools that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and to coach teachers and administrators.

Forsyth United Way gives $2.8 million for neighborhoods pilot

United Way of Forsyth County has awarded $2.8 million to social-service organizations through its “Place Matters” pilot program targeting priority needs identified by residents in 13 neighborhoods in east and northeast Winston-Salem.

Needs to be addressed by the funding, awarded in the wake of $8.82 million given in December for community-wide initiatives, include unemployment and underemployment; multigenerational support; healthy living; and housing stock and vacant lots.

The Place Matters program also includes a “Grassroots Grants” initiative that will award grants up to $10,000 that will be allocated on a monthly basis.

Nonprofits expect to boost staffing, survey says

Fifty-seven percent of nonprofits expect to create new positions this year, up from 50 percent last year and compared to only 36 percent of private companies, the same as last year, a new survey says.

The total turnover rate for nonprofits this year is expected to total 19 percent, the same as last year, says the 2016 Nonprofit Employment survey, which Nonprofit HR has produced annually since 2007 and is based on responses from 443 nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada.

The share of nonprofits that reported increasing staff size grew to 51 percent in 2015 from 49 percent in 2014, while the share of those that reported decreasing staff size fell to 15 percent — the lowest percentage reported in the past six years — from 18 percent.

The nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $905.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, or 5.4 percent of gross domestic product, Nonprofit HR says.

In 2013, it says, roughly 1.41 million nonprofits were registered with the Internal Revenue Service, up 2.8 percent from 10 years earlier.

Adjusted for inflation, it says, revenue for the nonprofit sector grew to $2.26 trillion in 2013 from $2.19 trillion in 2012.

And total charitable giving in 2014 grew for the fifth straight year to an estimated $358.38 billion, exceeding the pre-recession peak for the first time.

U.S. is global leader in personal philanthropy, report says

Nearly 40 percent of philanthropists in the U.S. with over $5 million in investable assets plan to leave at least a third of their wealth to charity, a new report says.

The U.S. remains the global leader in personal philanthropy, followed closely by Europe, and then Asia, with the Middle East showing the biggest increase in philanthropic giving, says the fourth annual BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index by Forbes Insights.

The Index is based on a survey of 457 high net worth individuals in the four regions.

History of philanthropy focus of free website

Philanthropy over the past 500 years is the focus of a new website posted by the National Philanthropic Trust.

“A History of Modern Philanthropy,” at, looks at philanthropy from 1500 to the present.

The digital exhibition highlights 200 moments in global philanthropy illustrated by nearly 100 media materials, including documents, audio and video.

Wake Meals on Wheels gets grant for efficiency program

Meals on Wheels of Wake County is one of five nonprofit nutrition programs in the U.S. to receive a service grant from the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger to put into effect the Foundation’s “food waste solution.”

The What A Waste project, with support from Walmart Foundation, will provide Meals on Wheels with tools and training designed to make the best use of resources and better meet the nutrition needs of seniors in Wake County.

The project will be adopted at the Five Points Center for Active Adults in Raleigh. Old 

Camp Corral teams with veterans group

Camp Corral in Raleigh has formed a partnership with Disabled American Veterans to serve 1,000 children of injured and ill service members and veterans.

Founded in 2011, Camp Corral now includes 21 partner camps in 19 states.

Salem young-professionals group to meet

Old Salem Museums & Gardens will hold its annual social for young professionals on May 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The event for New Benefactors of Old Salem, the organization’s young-professionals group,  will be held at Horton Meadow at the Frank L. Horton Museum Center at 924 South Main Street in Old Salem.

Event raises $46,000 for Mental Health Association

The inaugural Shea’s Chase 5K Run/Walk in 2015 attracted over 500 participants and netted$46,442 for the Mental Health Association in Greensboro.

The second annual event will be held November 12 at 11 a.m. at the Railyard at Southend.

Deadline set for nominating arts educator of year

May 6 at 5 p.m. is the deadline for submitting nominations to ArtsGreensboro, in partnership with Guilford County Schools, for the 2016 Arts Educator of the Year.

To be eligible, nominees must be employed by Guilford County Schools in a primary role as an arts educator who teaches visual or performing arts.

The 2016 recipient will receive $1,000 to use for professional development.

Hospice volunteer recognized for service

Skip Tussey, a retired business owner and one of nearly 600 volunteers at Hospice & Palliative Care Center in Winston-Salem, was recognized as an unsung hero by Allegacy Federal Credit Union with a certificate and a gift of $500 to Hospice in his name.

College students collect and donate food

High Point University students collected and donated 275 pounds of food — enough to fill 40 backpacks for hungry children and their families — to Out of the Garden Project, which serves schools in High Point and has distributed over 300,000 pounds of food to children and families in need in 2015.

Partners Ending Homelessness to host baseball event

Partners Ending Homelessness will host the 8th Annual Home Run for Homelessness on May 22 at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro at a gamer between the Greensboro Grasshoppers ad Hagerstown Suns.

Event raises $46,000 for Mental Health Association

The inaugural Shea’s Chase 5K Run/Walk in 2015 attracted over 500 participants and netted$46,442 for the Mental Health Association in Greensboro.

The second annual event will be held November 12 at 11 a.m. at the Railyard at Southend.

Lucy Daniels Center to host event

The Lucy Daniels Center in Cary will host its sixth annual “Expressions VI, A Celebration of Food and Art” on October 23 at The Umstead Hotel & Spa.

Three join Passage Home board

Passage Home in Raleigh has added three members to its board of directors — Yvonne Holley, a member of the N.C. House of Representatives; Zebulon Mayor Robert S. Matheny; and Caroline Sullivan, a member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Golf event to feature NFL players

Carolina Panthers players and other current and former National Football League players will join former Panther player Ricky Proehl and Super Bowl coach Dick Vermil at the Ricky Proehl Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting Proehl’s P.O.W.E.R. of Play Foundation.

The event will be held on June 2 and 3 at the Farm course at Greensboro Country Club.

Oral health focus of Delta Dental’s charity

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In Orange County, the dental clinic at the county health department offers oral health screenings in county schools that serve free or discounted lunches to the most students. It also promotes the screenings through local pediatricians.

In Wake County, the county’s dental clinic is giving sealants to 500 low-income children to help protect their teeth from decay.

And at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Wake County, kids in the youth sports program protect their teeth with 1,000 donated mouth guards.

Those efforts are among dozens throughout the state supported by Delta Dental of North Carolina and the Delta Dental Foundation.

“Our mission is to improve the oral health of the communities we serve,” says Curt Ladig, president and CEO of Delta Dental of North Carolina.

The statewide nonprofit, an independent, licensed affiliate of Delta Dental Plans Association in Chicago, provides dental insurance to employer groups and individuals. It counts 2,950 licensed dentists in its network, or three of every five dentists in North Carolina, Ladig says.

Operating with 17 employees and offices in Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro, Delta Dental serves 340,000 members at 650 employer groups, and expects to generate net income of $1 million in 2016 on revenue of $110 million.

That’s up from $30 million in revenue and 105,000 members at 120 employer groups  in 2011, when Ladig joined the North Carolina affiliate from the Kentucky affiliate, where he had served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

The North Carolina affiliate had been struggling and in 2011 became part of a larger operating group that already included affiliates in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee.

At that time, the affiliates in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio contributed a total of $1 million to the Michigan-based Delta Dental Foundation, which makes grants in those three states and North Carolina.

In North Carolina over the past five years, the Foundation has contributed a total of $240,000 in grants of up to $5,000 each to nonprofits and local health departments to serve 52,000 children throughout the state.

And for the past three years — after it began generating net income, Ladig says — Delta Dental has contributed a total of $125,000 through discretionary grantmaking.

Grants from the foundation support direct services “where a dentist directly serves a child, or it’s educational,” Ladig says.

A grant to the Department of Health in Transylvania County in western North Carolina, for example, will support oral education for preschool children.

In North Carolina, Ladig says, one in three children entering kindergarten has tooth decay, and children with tooth decay are three times more likely than other children to miss school.

“If you’re missing school,” he says, “you’re missing critical instruction time at those early ages.”

Poor dental health also creates big social costs, he says. Many uninsured people with dental problems, for example, visit emergency rooms, which cost 10 times to 12 times more than a visit to the dentist, he says.

Those additional costs to hospitals are built into the cost of private health care, and if people visiting emergency rooms are eligible for Medicaid, taxpayers may be picking up part of the cost, Ladig says.

“So we need to find ways,” he says, “to treat these children and adults in the proper setting, which is a dental office.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.22.16

Women’s Council awards $50,000 for women’s health

The Women’s Council of Novant Health Foundation Forsyth Medical Center has awarded a total of $50,000 in grants to programs that focus on women’s health.

The grants, announced at annual Garden Party the Council hosted April 15 at Forsyth Country Club, bring to nearly $475,000 the total investment the Council has made in women’s health programs since 2008.

Grants included $10,000 to support medical and transportation assistance for 20 women being treated for gynecologic cancer at the Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center;  $29,000 to fund a part‐time licensed clinical social worker for one year at Novant Health’s Today’s Women OB/GYN, a practice that provides obstetric and gynecologic care to low-income women; and $11,000 for a program that begins in May for new mothers in the Winston‐Salem area.
The Council, with nearly 125 members, partners with Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center and the Novant Health Maya Angelou Women’s Health & Wellness Center to provide access to women’s care.
Reynolds American was presenting sponsor of the Garden Party.

Thompson halves funding gap

Thompson in Charlotte says that over the past year it has halved its funding gap, which had doubled to $4 million over the previous year.

The nonprofit, which provides clinical and prevention serves for children and families in Mecklenburg County, says it reduced employee costs 13 percent and administrative expenses nine percent, and served 12,716 children.

It is serving 768 more adults and children in outpatient therapy and psychiatry than it did two years ago, and caring for 18 percent more children at Thompson Child Development Center than it did three years ago.

The organizations operates with an annual budget of more than $15 million, 200 employees and over 500 volunteers.

This week it held its 14th annual luncheon, which has raised a total of over $7.2 million since it was launched.

New scholarships at Wake Tech

Holt Brothers Construction and S&ME Engineering are establishing scholarships to help graduates of Vernon Malone College and Career Academy matriculate to Wake Tech Community College.

Holt Brothers has made a 10-year, $35,000 commitment to the Wake Tech Foundation to award $1,000 each year, plus $2,500 a year to a permanent scholarship endowment.

S&ME Engineering is making five-year commitment to award a $1,500 scholarship and $2,000 scholarship each year.

Riverrun admissions up, revenue down

Admissions at the 18th annual Riverrun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem grew to 16,556 from 16,205 in 2015, while gross box-office revenue fell to $90,334 from $94,008.

The Festival, held April 7-17, included 166 films representing 44 countries, up from  164 films representing 35 countries in 2015. The Festival screened more films than ever, exceeding last  year’s previous record-high.

The Festival included 166 screenings of films, seven fewer screenings than in 2015, as well as more free screenings and a free day of family events.

Twenty-five screenings sold out, up from 18 in 2015.

The Festival hosted 143 filmmakers, the most ever and up from the previous record-high of 120 last year.

Community foundation, food bank team up on food

For the second straight year, Cumberland Community Foundation and Second Harvest Food Bank teamed up to deliver one million pounds of free food to the community.

The two agencies raised over $19,000 in a campaign they began in February to cover the costs of transporting free food available at distribution centers.

Youth Grantmakers in Action gives $1,900

Youth Grantmakers in Action awarded four grants totaling $1,900 to projects that will supporting youth in Forsyth County, including Reagan High School Young Black Male Achievers; THETA Awards and Scholarship Fund; Top Teens of America; and Winston-Salem Youth Advisory Council.

A program of The Winston-Salem Foundation, Youth Grantmakers in Action is a group of youth ages 15 to 18 who grant money to youth-led community projects.

Since its first round of grants in 2006, the group has awarded over $19,000.

Novant Health screens 1,065 women for heart disease and stroke

Novant Health, in partnership with the office of Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and the Go Red For Women movement of the American Heart Association, screened 1,065 women across the Triad for heart disease and stroke in the first three months of 2016.

The goal of the partnership is to screen 4,000 women this year.

Byrd joins Children’s Home Society

Christine Byrd, former director of foundation and corporate relations for Church World Service, has been named director of grants management for the Greensboro-based Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.

Mustard Seed opening clinic

Mustard Seed Community Health will celebrate the opening of its new medical clinic at 238 S. English St. in Greensboro with an event at the clinic on April 30 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WELL adds eight board members

The board of trustees of the Wade Edwards Foundation & Learning Lab in Raleigh added eight new members, including Allison Crumpler of Novella Clinical; James Gladden of  Engineered BioPharmaceuticals; Colette Giffin of BASF; Todd Hancock of Hodge + Kittrell Sotheby’s International Realty; Ruth Heuer of RTI International; Mollie Hodl of Executive Service Corps; Marcey Rader of Marcey Rader Coaching; and, Victoria Vojnovich of Cisco.

High Point University students support charity

Zeta Tau Alpha, a sorority at High Point University, raised $25,500 for breast cancer education and awareness at its 11th annual Crown Classic Golf Tournament.

And the Impact Club, a Christian service fraternity, filled and delivered 1,500 backpacks with two meals each children in the Triad in partnership with United Way.

Charlotte realtors pitch in on home repair

Seven-hundred realtors will spend today volunteering in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties to help individual homeowners with exterior repairs.

Realtors Care Day is an initiative of the Housing Opportunity Foundation of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

VF Corporation sponsors Habitat Greensboro home

VF Corporation is sponsoring a new home in the Quail Oaks West neighborhood for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro.

It is the fifth home to be built by VF headquarters and VF Jeanswear associates.

Community colleges aim to spur better health

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.]

On a cold Friday afternoon in February, a group of students, faculty and staff members gathered in a warm teaching dining room on the campus of Nash Community College in Rocky Mount to break bread together — and learn how to bake it.

As part of the school’s effort to stimulate healthier living in the rural community, a culinary teaching chef showed the group how a few simple substitutions in ingredients could turn an ordinary loaf into something much healthier and tastier.

“People couldn’t believe all the nutritious goodness that was packed in,” says Trent Mohrbutter, vice president of instruction and chief academic officer at the school.

Sometimes, he says, it takes small steps — especially when shared by a group or community — for individuals to make big changes.

Inspiring people in rural communities to live healthier lives by providing them with better access to information about health and wellness, and to opportunities to visit a doctor, exercise and eat more nutritious food, is the focus of a 10-year, $100 million investment by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Launched by the Trust in 2012, Healthy Places NC is investing up to $100 million to improve the health of residents in 10 to 12 of the state’s most rural and financially disadvantaged counties.

As part of that initiative, the Trust is providing support designed to help seven community colleges become resources and catalysts for healthier living on their campuses and in the counties they serve.

Working with MDC, a research and consulting nonprofit in Durham, the schools are undertaking a broad range of projects. For example, Beaufort County Community College is hosting health summits. Edgecombe Community College is creating a natural playscape on campus. Halifax Community College is establishing a clinic on campus. McDowell Technical Community College is serving the campus and community through telemedicine.  Rockingham Community College is creating an “edible” greenhouse. And Western Piedmont Community College is developing a campus-wide healthy lifestyle initiative.

“The goal of our initiative is institutionalizing the idea of influencing healthy behavior and improving health outcomes into the colleges,” says Dan Broun, senior program director at MDC. “If they’re successful, even when the funding ends, that will be part of the way business is done at the campus.”

Change agents

Community colleges in rural counties are naturally positioned to stimulate healthier living in their communities. The schools often rank among their counties’ larger employers, and their classes and cultural events during the day and in the evening attract a steady flow of students and visitors.

The schools train workers who can join the local health-sciences workforce. They offer programs and facilities such as physical education classes, gyms and walking trails that give students and employees opportunities for physical activity. Some offer direct health services for the community.

“Community colleges serve some of the most vulnerable populations in a community,” Broun says. “There’s a lot of opportunity to make lasting change in terms of the goals of the initiative, which is to dramatically improve health outcomes in these distressed counties.”

Providing access

Living in counties that rank among the lowest in the state on indicators that measure socio-economic status, residents of Eastern North Carolina typically have less access than people in more affluent counties to “healthier food options, and to some extent to health and wellness opportunities,” says Mohrbutter at Nash Community College.

Another hurdle to healthier living in the region is a limited local “knowledge base” about health and wellness. “Everybody knows donuts are not good for you,” he says, “but just saying that doesn’t necessarily provide knowledge to people.”

Thanks in part to its support from the Trust, the school is working to make it easier for local residents — including its students, faculty and staff — to find out how to eat better, stay fit and be healthy. And it is providing them with tools to practice what they learn.

A February seminar on baking healthy bread, for example, was held in an interactive classroom across the hall from a culinary teaching kitchen equipped for Nash Community College’s programs on restaurant management, and culinary and hospitality management.

Instead of flour and sugar, the culinary teaching chef leading the seminar used honey and “spent” grains, including those high in protein but low in carbohydrates — ingredients that produced a lower calorie count. Seminar participants watched him prepare and bake the bread, then sampled it. And they left with the recipe.

The seminar was one of six scheduled for the spring semester. The school also received a grant from the Trust to equip its weight room and cardiovascular room. With the new equipment, more employees and students are using the fitness rooms.

“Once you start doing something that has value,” Mohrbutter says, “the students and employees not only come to value it themselves, but they also come to expect it.”

To get the word out about its healthy-living efforts, the school launched a communications campaign that uses social media and features articles in an e-newsletter it distributes every Friday throughout the county.

“As we expose students and employees to the opportunities — anyone who comes into contact with the college — we will expand their knowledge and experiential base,” he says. “Then it becomes part of what they do, and that’s behavior change. Whether students, employees or community partners, they come, they learn about something, they try it, they experience it on their own, they come back again, and before you know it, their lifestyles have changed, hopefully for the positive.”

Learning together

Heathy Places NC has created a “learning network” among the schools. A newsletter keeps all participants up to date on projects at each campus, and on best practices.

Critical to securing future funding for campus health and wellness projects, says Broun of MDC, will be the ability to show the difference they make on indicators that reflect students’ health and are tied to public funding.

“What ultimately could be most valuable” in addition to healthier living, he says, “is if people see that investing in these initiatives has an impact on increasing measurable things like student retention and completion.”

[The Trust’s Healthy Places NC initiative is currently working to improve health in the rural counties of Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham.]

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.15.16

New endowment supports Fayetteville Symphony

Gifts to a new endowment at Cumberland Community Foundation to support Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra now exceed $1 million.

The Fouad K. Fakhouri Endowment for Artistic Excellence, named to honor the orchestra’s outgoing music director and conductor, will support the symphony in perpetuity.

Mary Holmes, the Foundation’s executive director, announced the creation of the new fund at symphony event on April 9 honoring Fakhouri, who has served as music director and conductor since 2004 and announced last year that 2015-16 would be his last season with the Symphony.

Gifts to the endowment, which will support the conductor’s podium and is the largest benefiting the symphony, were received over the last two months.

John Rex Endowment awards grants for mental health for children

The John Rex Endowment awarded grants of $28,750 to Arts Access and $551,978 to Wake County SmartStart for projects to support positive mental health of children.

Since 2013, the Endowment has invested a total of more than $7.5 million to support mental health for children in Wake County.

Junior Achievement volunteers to ‘blitz’ seven Guilford schools

To mark its 50th anniversary, Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina will provide educational programs in a one-day “blitz” at seven Guilford County Schools.

On April 20, over 150 community and business volunteers will teach roughly 3,000 students in every kindergarten through fifth-grade classroom  at Bessemer, Brightwood, Hampton, Lindley, Sedgefield, Simkins and Wiley elementary schools.

Companies at which many of the volunteers are employed include Bank of America; Ernst & Young; Lincoln Financial Group; Northwestern Mutual; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Procter & Gamble; SunTrust; United Guaranty; and VF Corporation.

United Way young leaders volunteer for NC MedAssist

Young Leaders United, a program of the United Way of Greater High Point, volunteered on March 30 to load, unload, and set up tables and chairs at the community center at High Point University to help prepare for the over-the-counter medicine giveaway on April 1 by NC MedAssist.

On April 21, members of Young Leaders United attended a social event at Greensboro Grasshoppers stadium, thanks to a ticket donation from Smith Leonard Accountants and Consultants of High Point.

Youth risk behavior focus on community meeting

YWCA Partners for Healthy Youth will hold a community conversation on April 26 on youth risk behavior surveys and their role in shaping public policy.

Featured at the event, to be held from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at YWCA Greensboro will be Ellen Essick, section chief for NC Healthy Schools at the state Department of Public Instruction, and Jen Kimbrough, adjunct assistant professor of health and human performance at Elon University.

Triad Dog Games fundraising event set for May 14-15

Triad Dog Games, a fundraising event presented by The Sergei Foundation in Winston-Salem to support its work of saving the lives of companion pets by providing veterinary financial assistance to families unable to afford emergency, life-saving care, will be held May 14 and 15 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.

Founded in 2009, The Sergei Foundation has worked to help hundreds of dogs and cats receive emergency veterinary medical attention.

Artsplosure to host spring fundraiser

Artsplosure in Raleigh will host its fourth annual spring fundraiser on April 21 at Market Hall in City Market from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will include a cocktail party and silent auction.

Wine Society event to benefit military and families

Fayetteville Wine Society will hold its fourth annual charity social event on May 21 to support military members and their families. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Cape Fear Botanical Garden at 536 N. Eastern Blvd. in Fayetteville.

Special Olympics redesigns website

Special Olympics North Carolina has redesigned its website at to make it easier to use for people using mobile devices.

Gathering focuses on improving health of employees, workplaces

Prevention Partners hosted a “Healthy Together NC Prevention Academy” in Raleigh on April 6 that attracted representatives from businesses, health providers, government, nonprofits, and schools throughout the state.

The event, sponsored by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Novo Nordisk and Prevention Partners, focused on sharing best practices to create healthier employees and workplaces.

Thompson to hold annual benefit luncheon

Thompson in Charlotte expects over 500 community leaders, supporters and staff of Thompson to attend its 14th Annual “Portraits of Courage” luncheon, which will be held April 21 at noon at The Westin Charlotte at 601 S. College St.

Leadership Raleigh focuses on community

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — On April 27 and 28, about 50 Wake County ninth-grade students will participate in a series of workshops, led by business leaders, as well as team-building activities, all aimed to helping them succeed in the workplace.

The day-and-a-half session, known as “High Climbers,” was created three years ago by a team of participants in Leadership Raleigh, a leadership-development program the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce launched in 1984-85.

Now, in an effort that began last year, Leadership Raleigh is working with its alumni association to provide opportunities for alumni to get involved in addressing community needs by working with local groups.

On April 14, at the offices of the Junior League of Raleigh, for example, Leadership Raleigh alumni will be doing volunteer work for Backpack Buddies, SAFEchild and Brentwood Boys & Girls Club.

And in September, the program will host “Leadership Raleigh Alumni Back on the Bus,” an effort to “take a deeper dive into new community issues and topics” that alumni can get involved in and support, says Greg McNamara, vice president of small business and member services at the Chamber.

Leadership Raleigh, which has over 1,000 alumni, includes an overnight retreat each fall, followed by a day-long session each month through June on local topics, including quality of life, law enforcement, human services, economy, education, health services, and media, and local and state government.

Development of the curriculum for each year’s program is the commencement project of the previous year’s graduating class, which in years past consisted of about 50 people, each paying $2,200, with their employers providing some or all of the tuition for most class members. This year, for the first time, the program has expanded to two classes totaling 96 people.

In addition to its monthly curriculum focus, each class typically subdivides into project teams of five to six people, with each team working with a local nonprofit or other organization on a need it has identified.

A team in the 2012-13 class, for example, created High Climbers in partnership with the Wake County Public School System to provide leadership-development opportunities for students. The project has become an annual event for Leadership Raleigh.

For perspective, Leadership Raleigh each month provides participants with educational meetings and discussions throughout the community designed to help them see first-hand the impact of the issue that is the focus of the curriculum that month.

Following the alumni bus tour this September, McNamara says, a reception will give alumni an opportunity to talk about how to address local needs that may have emerged since they participated in the program.

“We are a community of people interested in supporting each other and organizations we’re passionate about,” he says. “We’re building a community of leaders.”

While the Chamber does not offer a special program for nonprofits, he says, nonprofits represent about six percent of its more than 2,200 member organizations and represent one of the highest-rated searches on its online membership directory.

“Employers are very interested in having employees involved in the community,” he says. “It builds a sense of community engagement, ownership and empowerment for the employees to work for these community organizations.”

June 15 is the deadline for submitting applications for the Leadership Raleigh class that begins this fall.