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.

Wake Forest Charlotte Center offers nonprofit classes

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After spending most of his nonprofit career as a fundraiser, Marty Sanders found he wanted help in “improving my skills in being able to manage and lead better.”

And Sarah Shiflett, who has worked for nonprofits and served on nonprofit boards, wanted to “round out some of my knowledge base.”

So Sanders, director of development at Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, and Shiflett, senior community planner at the Council for Children’s Rights, both enrolled in “Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations,” a nine-course program offered by Wake Forest University at its Charlotte Center.

After moving its Charlotte programs uptown last year after offering them for 18 years in South Park, Wake Forest began offering its nonprofit program, which is taught by faculty from the university’s business and law schools, as well as by adjunct faculty.

The program also includes a symposium, which last year featured keynote speaker Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

The first class, which is just ending, included 110 students from 85 nonprofits in the region, says Todd Johnson, executive director of the Wake Forest Charlotte Center, a graduate of the business school at Wake Forest, and founder and CEO of Keranetics, a biotech firm in Winston-Salem that is developing technology launched at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The nine-course program cost $750 for the first year, and will cost $1,000 for the second year, with Duke Energy Foundation and Foundation for the Carolinas contributing a total of $20,000 each year.

Scholarships are available to cover up to half the cost of the program for students who otherwise could not afford to enroll.

Registration has begun for the term that begins August 27.

Joanne O’Brien Beam, who chairs the advisory board for the nonprofit program and is managing partner at Charlotte consulting firm Capstone Advancement Partners, says the curriculum is designed “to fill a gap to provide some continuing education” for local nonprofits.

Course topics range from governance and finance to fundraising and human resources.

“The world is constantly changing,” says Sanders at Salvation Army. “To be able to converse intelligently with the finance side, be more in tune with what’s going on in communications and marketing, and understand human resources, and how you put together a good team and manage effectively, were all areas I needed to be able to grow in.”

Shiflett at the Council for Children’s Rights, says she particularly valued the sessions on strategic planning, business model development, and fund development.

“It’s easy to continue doing the same activities because they’re comfortable,” she says. “Sometimes you need to be able to change your model to do a better job.”

She learned, for example, the “need for organizations to ‘pivot’ so they can continue to add value,” she says.

The Council for Children’s Rights aims “to be a catalyst for community change benefiting children, but in the session I realized that our team here needs to have the same lens,” she says. “We need to be able to respond to the needs of the community. And if that means changing our role or our approach, we need to be able to do that as we challenge others to do the same. It’s really about delivering value.”

Urban League focuses on social and human capital

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Individuals enrolled with the Urban League of Central Carolinas in Charlotte to get national certification training on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems also work as apprentice assistants to certified technicians who contract with the Urban League to provide HVAC maintenance for churches, nonprofits and residences.

That maintenance program generates revenue the Urban League uses to provide scholarships for others who enroll in certification training.

The program is one of a handful of social ventures the Urban League has developed and now aims to grow with $200,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation through its Neighborhood Builder program that also will provide leadership training for an emerging leader at the Urban League.

The social venture initiatives “are about building capacity for the agency,” says Patrick Graham, president and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas.

Operating with an annual budget of nearly $2 million and a staff of 10 people working full-time, plus 12 part-time teachers for its after-school programs and 10 contractors for its national certification programs, the Urban League serves roughly 5,000 clients a year through its workforce, education and outreach programs.

The workforce programs include job-readiness, life-skills and financial-literacy training; national certification training in HVAC, broadband and fiber optics, Microsoft specialist and customer services.

Education programs include after-school programs at 12 schools in Mecklenburg and Union counties, with technology training at elementary and middle schools to enhance the core curriculum, and broad band and fiber optic certification, Cisco certification, and leadership development and mentoring at high schools.

In addition to a voter campaign in 2012, outreach programs include a bank the Urban League launched in November 2012 in partnership with Carolina Premier Bank that is geared to “underbanked and unbanked” customers and provides lending to minorities.

The Bank of the Urban League of Central Carolinas already has made loans totaling over $1.7 million and is negotiating another loan for $1 million, Graham says.

The Urban League, which receives two-thirds of its funding from private foundations and individuals, and one-third from government, plans to use the funds it will receive from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to add a development position to increase giving from individual donors.

It also plans to add a job developer who will work with companies to advocate and find jobs for its clients.

And Shannon McKnight, the Urban League’s director of development and communications, will receive training as an emerging leader through the Neighborhood Builder grant.

Graham received similar training in 2006 as director of emergency and financial assistance at Crisis Assistance Ministry, which that year and again this year received a Neighborhood Builder grant.

Graham says his social venture work at the Urban League reflects lessons he learned from that training, and from his doctoral work in history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

His dissertation focused on the migration of blacks to the North from the South during the Civil Rights movement and the institutions they created to address racism in the North.

As a child growing up on Long Island in New York, Graham attended the Martin Luther King Center, which had been founded by migrants from the South, and which he later served as executive director.

Recognizing that minority communities traditionally have lacked access to capital, Graham says, he has worked at the Urban League to find ways to “generate income and provide a means to build financial literacy and capital that would make the community more independent.”

Social business, Part 6: Companies turn to nonprofits to help develop leaders

By Todd Cohen

To advance its mission of developing the next generation of global health leaders, Global Health Corps looks for partners that recognize the importance of investing in young leaders, said Heather Anderson, vice president of programs for the New York City-based organization.

That approach led to a partnership with technology company HP, or Hewlett-Packard, which provides financial support and donations of technology for Global Health staff and its annual class of fellows.

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., also provides employees the opportunity through a competitive process to serve as volunteer advisers to the fellows.

This year, 20 HP advisers are paired with 20 Global Health fellows in Africa and the U.S., speaking or communicating with one another at least once a month, talking about the fellows’ work challenges and career aspirations, and providing support on issues such as supply-chain management, monitoring the evaluation of programs, and playing a technology-related role.

The advisers, in turn get a “first-hand look at what it’s like to be working in a developing country, to be dealing with issues similar or different to what they are dealing with,” Anderson explained.

The partnership benefits both the nonprofit and the company, she said.

“Fellows are able to tap into the mentorship network and learn from the experience of those more senior,” she explained. “And vice versa, senior-level advisers can see what’s happening on the ground in global health in these countries.”

Next: Nonprofits tap corporate expertise

The series:

Part 1: Companies team with causes to add value

Part 2: Companies build giving into business strategy

Part 3: Philanthropy adds value for companies

Part 4: Nonprofit builds corporate partnerships from ground up

Part 5: Company works with nonprofits to build markets

Part 6: Companies turn to nonprofits to help develop leaders

Part 7: Nonprofits tap corporate expertise

Part 8: Company teams with nonprofit to solve social problems

Part 9: Nonprofits work with companies to help find business solutions

Junior League investing in elementary school

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — At Cone Elementary School in Greensboro, a low-income school that receives Title 1 federal funding, over 96 percent of students qualify for lunch that is free or at a reduced price.

In 2012, only 45.7 percent of its students showed proficiency on end-of-grade tests for reading, math and science combined, the lowest ranking among all Guilford County elementary schools.

To help address the challenges facing Cone Elementary, the Junior League of Greensboro on June 1 will begin devoting all its community giving, including funding and volunteers, to the school.

For each of the past three years, the Junior League has contributed roughly $50,000 to eight to  10 nonprofits to help address the basic needs of families.

For the coming year, it expects to invest over $60,000 in Cone Elementary.

That effort, which is expected to continue at least through May 2014, initially will focus on an initiative, through the school’s recently reconstituted parent teacher association after years of inactivity, designed to engage parents in the educational process; a literacy initiative that will focus on books and reading; school day programs designed to generate excitement in learning; programs that address basic needs; and efforts to support teachers.

A key goal is to make all those efforts “sustainable,” says Emily Faucher, a former assistant district attorney for Guilford County who is serving this year as the League’s president, a full-time volunteer position.

The League this year also is celebrating its 85th anniversary, and from April 20 through May 5 will host its third ShowHouse, which will feature the Adamsleigh estate, which was completed in 1930, and will benefit the initiative at Cone Elementary.

Formed in 1928, the Junior League grew out of the Greensboro Charity League, which was formed in 1926 by a  group of women organized by the late Kathleen Price Bryan, the daughter of Julian Price, who was CEO of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co., and the wife of Joseph M. Bryan, who was the company’s senior vice president.

The Junior League operates with an annual budget of over $600,000, including $400,000 it generates from its Bargain Box thrift store in downtown Greensboro.

One of 11 Junior Leagues in North Carolina, the Greensboro Junior League includes 360 active members who each typically volunteers at least three hours a month at organizations the League supports with funding.

The League also includes nearly 700 “sustaining” members.

Projects the League is considering at Cone Elementary include working with parents to boost their children’s literacy; getting parents more involved in the school; collecting books and other supplies for teachers; and supporting feeding and clothing programs for children and their families.

The ShowHouse, which the League hosts every four years, aims to raise over $300,000, Faucher says.

It will kick off with a patron gala on April 19 at the 15,000-square-foot, 13.5-acre estate, and will be open to the public for tours from April 20 through May 5, featuring designs for its more than 33 rooms created by local designers, as well as national designers secured by Traditional Home magazine, national media sponsor for the event.

All the funds raised will support the League’s initiative with Cone Elementary.

“We know we will support this school for at least two years,” Faucher says.

Retirement a concern for nonprofit employees

Roughly 45 percent of all employees working in the nonprofit sector are not confident with their ability to prepare financially for retirement, a new study says.

Those findings “underscore the need for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to address their employees’ long-term financial security, create more opportunities for advancement within the sector, and look for national, cross-sector solutions,” TIAA-CREF Institute and Independent Sector, which released the study, say in a statement.

While roughly 59 percent of 1,000 full-time employees age 21 and older in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector who were polled for the study are “very or extremely satisfied” with their current employment, nearly half have considered leaving the sector to get greater compensation elsewhere, says the study, Financial Security and Careers in the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector.

Over 90 percent of sector employees say personal satisfaction with their organization’s mission is a “central driver” for their career decisions, but only 30 percent are “very or extremely satisfied” with opportunities for career advancement.

“The results demonstrate the need for financial planning and advice to help these employees combine the best of both worlds,” Paul Yakoboski, senior economist at TIAA-CREF Institute, says in a statement.

Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, says concerns about financial security “can undermine the sector’s ability to attract and retain the most talented individuals to address the tough challenges we face.”

The sector should consider “how to secure the financial future of staff and those interested in working in the charitable sector,” she says. “Financial security will make it possible for these leaders to remain in the sector over an entire career.”

The nonprofit and philanthropic sector consists of 1.6 million organizations, including charities, foundations and professional associations, and employs roughly 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, TIAA-CREF and Independent Sector say.

Todd Cohen

Freeman to guide Junior Leagues International

By Todd Cohen

After receiving a master’s degree in higher education from Michigan State University, Toni Freeman moved to Charlotte to take a job as a residence-hall director at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

She later worked as director of housing at Johnson C. Smith University and then as corporate associate vice president at SunHealth, now known as Premier.

And she joined the Junior League of Charlotte.

That League experience has served her well: Equipped with the League’s community-focused training, Freeman has been its volunteer president and held senior positions at the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Duke Endowment, and Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education.

In February, she joined The Mint Museum as its first chief operating officer.

And this month she begins serving as president of the Association of Junior Leagues International.

“Our niche is training women as civic leaders,” Freeman says of the Junior League, which has 115,000 members in 293 communities in four countries and is “one of the largest and most effective volunteer organizations in the world.”

At The Mint and at the Association of Junior Leagues, Freeman will play a key role in putting ambitious strategies into place to better attract and serve clients.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, The Mint has launched a plan to double its attendance to 400,000 within five years, increase the number of virtual visitors to 800,000 a year, create a North Carolina Pottery Research Center, increase its space for classrooms and studios, develop a children’s center for the arts, and increase public access to its art library.

And the Association of Junior Leagues last year launched a five-year “strategic road map” to position the organization to expand and to “fine-tune what’s core to us, which is training,” Freeman says.

That effort will address issues like the age at which women join the League.

Traditionally joining in their 20s or 30s, women increasingly “are less committed later in life, when their children are grown and their careers more settled,” Freeman says.

So the League is looking at ways to attract women “at all stages of life,” she says.

At local Leagues in 39 communities, the association is piloting efforts to “figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” including a range of options for providing training.

Those include launching a new product to integrate best practices for training and make it available online, giving League members access, whenever and wherever they want it, to whatever training approach suits them.

Training is critical to develop women as leaders and volunteers who can make a difference in an increasingly complex and challenging world, Freeman says.

Women volunteer differently, and are “community-focused” and “multi-taskers,” she says.

“If we use our training to empower women to be better leaders,” she says, “ultimately we’re going to have better and stronger communities.”

And with the economic downturn slamming nonprofits, and the demand for qualified and effective volunteers escalating, Freeman says, Junior Leagues can help train the volunteers nonprofits need.

“It’s a life-long skill,” she says. “What better gift than to give a trained volunteer at a time when the need is the greatest.”