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Community Impact Projects Provide Direct Experience With Nonprofits

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Every year, Leadership Howard County’s (LHC) members, from high school juniors to senior leaders, participate in community service. For Leadership Essentials and Leadership Premier members, the Community Impact Project (CIP) is a key component of their LHC experience.

The process of getting to know a nonprofit, its goals and challenges, and to find creative strategies to help it fulfill its mission is at the heart of learning about community trusteeship.

Nonprofits and county organizations apply to have a project selected for the program. Projects are judged to be valuable to both the organization and the project team, helping the nonprofit fulfill its specific mission while at the same time enabling participants to gain hands-on learning about community service. A committee reviews the applications and selects appropriate projects that are then presented to class participants at their initial retreat.

Class participants form “core learning teams” at their retreat — groups of seven to eight participants who work together over the next 10 months on the project and share their learning and reflections throughout the program year.

“Community impact projects are intended to provide ‘real world’ experience with a nonprofit,” said Laurie Remer, LHC vice president of programs and coordinator of the project evaluation team. “The project teams are challenged to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and propose new solutions. It may take some time for the nonprofit to process the proposed recommendations but it often provides a fresh starting point for achieving their goals.”

“We think of you now as change-agents,” said Dr. Helen Tuel, founding director of the Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center (TRRC), who asked a Leadership Premier project team to develop a sustainability plan for TRRC’s future. “We welcome these changes, which are beneficial to TRRC’s mission. You have pulled us into the new century, and we are thankful. We underestimated the pool of talent among you, and your good intentions. We had to ‘bare our souls,’ and the Center’s, too. This Center’s staff and I look forward to this continuing relationship and connections to your expertise. You have had much impact upon this charity and we are so appreciative and grateful.”

Premier Class of 2015 Community Projects

  • Columbia’s 50th Anniversary: Integrated the tenets of “Conscious Capitalism” into the celebration planned for 2017 and made recommendations for partnerships, marketing initiatives and events.
  • Neighbor Ride: Strategies to increase volunteers and increase awareness of Neighbor Ride’s value as a community resource.
  • Candlelight Concerts: Audience development plan and recommendations for marketing and programming.
  • Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center: Succession planning, financial and fundraising sustainability.
  • MakingChange: Recommendations to improve and grow program to better serve the community.
  • Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency: Recommendations on program viability to build on skills and training.
  • Vantage House: Survey to support community needs around aging in Howard County.
  • STEMaction: Reviewed and provided recommendations for organization’s mission and practices.

Leadership Essentials Class of 2015 Projects

  • Association of Community Services: Assist with data gathering to update the “ACS Howard County, Maryland, Self-Sufficiency Report.”
  • Howard County Conservancy: Assist with website update.
  • Howard County Board of Social Services/Family Assistance Fund: Marketing plan to increase visibility of board in the community.
  • Howard County Office on Aging, Aging &Disability Resource Center: Marketing campaign to help people assist older adult family members with Medicare questions.