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June 2018 Issue

From the Executive Director:
La Vida Buena

Staff Spotlight:
Stephanie Burkholder


College Possible


Grand Island Community Foundation


Heartland Workforce Solutions

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Community Foundation Program Builds the Capacity of Grand Island Nonprofits

Raising the Bar | Strong & Vibrant Communities | June 2018

In September 2015, Peter Kiewit Foundation (PKF) awarded the Grand Island Community Foundation (GICF) a $75,000 grant to partially fund the Nonprofit Excellence Institute (NEI) for three years. The first NEI class launched in 2016 to provide capacity building training to area non-profit organizations.

“The Nonprofit Excellence Institute has been a driving force of change for the non-profit community in Grand Island,” says Kara Faber, GICF program officer. “We are seeing more collaboration between organizations, more communication between executive directors, and relationships built among the board members who have gone through the program.”

NEI provides valuable resources and instruction to non-profit professionals and board members in the Grand Island area without the typical costs of tuition, travel and time generally associated with this caliber of training. Program objectives set organizations and their leaders up for success, assisting them in creating and evaluating programs and internal systems as well as fostering a culture of collaboration.

Mary Lee Fitzsimmons, a non-profit organization management consultant from Mission Matters, facilitates the year-long program during four-hour sessions once a month. Board members are invited to join executive directors at quarterly sessions. An average of five to eight nonprofits participate in each class.

Fitzsimmons covers different areas of capacity building initiatives ranging from board development, and board/executive director relations, to finances, human resources and fundraising to name a few. “What’s beautiful about how she runs a class is that she tailors it to the nonprofits that are in the class at the time,” Faber says. This provides an opportunity for nonprofit professionals to garner solutions to current challenges they may be experiencing.

GICF awards $5,000 to organizations who complete the training to further support their capacity building efforts. Upon completion, class one participants appreciated the training and collaboration enough to request extended training opportunities on a quarterly basis, Faber adds.

“I feel we are seeing a shift from organizations seeing each other as competitors for the donor dollar, board members, and volunteers to a culture of active partnership,” Faber says. “It is truly exciting to envision what the nonprofit landscape in Grand Island and Central Nebraska could be with the continuation and expansion of the NEI program.”

NEI Participants Rave About Substantial Results

NEI Class One Graduates

Pictured above are: Chase Francl (Friendship House), Mandy Burkett (YWCA of Grand Island), Audrey Lutz (Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island), Laurie Kulus (GRACE Foundation), Connie Holmes (Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions), and L.J. McCormick (College Park).

“Our agency was saved by five factors: new Board leadership, AmeriCorps VISTA, a volunteer program, Nonprofit Excellence Institute, and the Peter Kiewit Foundation. It was the last two that allowed us to fully leverage the limited resources available and equip our director and Board members to sustainably grow our agency. Now, Multicultural Coalition is almost unrecognizable from the agency it was in 2016. We are a formidable force for social change and advocacy in Grand Island, Nebraska.” Lutz participated in NEI class number one.

– Audrey Lutz, executive director for the Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island

“As a result of NEI, we have a much more engaged board that is doing more and deeply thoughtful board business. From simple gestures like celebrating successes, to more long-term thinking and preparation, our board and museum staff have all reaped the benefits of this program. I know a number of our board members who serve other community boards have taken the results we discuss and implement in those separate boards as well.” Black participated in NEI class number two.

– Joe Black, executive director of Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

“One of the most impactful ways NEI has strengthened our organization is by providing best-practice framework for the board and executive director relationship. This has allowed us to be more efficient and productive with our time, and strengthened our partnership. I believe this will continue to be impactful as we focus our time and energy on building the capacity to serve our community better. In the end, it’s not only the organization that is impacted, but the people we serve. The opportunity has allowed me to grow personally and professionally, and I believe the benefits will be evident for many years to come.” Mayfield participated in NEI class number 2.

– Liz Mayfield, executive director of Hope Harbor