It was graduation day for leaders of several local nonprofit organizations, following a seven-month program aimed at bolstering their ability to serve at-risk youth, the homeless, youth adults transitioning out of foster care, rehabilitated former inmates seeking to reenter society, and many other members of the community.
The Second District Capacity Building and Leadership Development Program was the result of a partnership among Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the California Community Foundation, the Empowerment Congress and Community Partners. It featured workshops and one-on-one coaching to help expand the reach and deepen the impact of nonprofit organizations.
“Nonprofits have to be prepared to transition – there’s nothing to celebrate about doing things the way they always have been done,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas told participants at the culmination of the program. “Innovation coupled with accountability is fundamentally key to success of our human services infrastructure.”
Founders, executive directors and other leaders of nonprofit organizations expressed appreciation after going through the program. “It has given us a framework to examine, to measure, to reflect and see areas where we can improve and collaborate,” said Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the Good Seed Development Corp., which seeks to prevent transition-age young adults from experiencing or remaining homeless.
David Schwed, development director of The Francisco Homes, which helps men reintegrate back into the community after decades behind bars, said the program provided vital information that could help his nonprofit, which “started with a few nuns going to visit men in prison” to currently housing 65 men in six locations.
“It’s a ministry, not a business – but we need to be sustainable as a business, and we need to build our capacity,” he added. “The program is helping us build all of the parts that an organization needs to be sustainable.”
Nancy Harris, executive director of Holman Community Development Corp., which helps with youth employment, and job readiness training, housing and education, said, “Our nonprofit is at an interesting stage where we need to take it to the next level. This process that we went through at the Supervisor’s lead has really helped me clearly see what our next level is.”