On a trip out west recently I visited a nonprofit organization that just blew me away. I have written in the past about the importance of strategic alignment and impact in the past and this organization has it all–and then some. I thought I’d share some information with you because I believe it offers impressive lessons on community impact, board development, collaboration, and out-of-the-box thinking.
This nonprofit works with at-risk youth in ways I have never seen. Briefly, its founder recognized that kids who cause trouble and get kicked out of school, or who are incarcerated for minor offenses, often turn out worse than when they first started making bad decisions. Put that information aside for a minute.
Now on another front, the founder also understood the cost of living was so high in the area that there was a dearth of skilled blue collar workers living in the community. Employers had difficulty finding skilled workers, and many of the ones who were working there had to commute 30-50 miles.
The founder put these two problems together and found a creative, effective solution. He pulled together many who was impacted by these issues and formed a nonprofit to address them head-on. His board included the city sheriff, chief probation officer, local construction, hospitality and agriculture leaders, local school district officials, and various other interested and impacted parties.
They created a nonprofit that gave these at-risk kids a second…and final…chance to get it right!
They attacked each problem through a wide range of unique programming, including:
- Schooling on their property so participants could still earn their high school diploma
- Hands-on training in the fields of construction, hospitality, or agriculture–depending on their preference
- Physically building many of their own facilities as part of the construction training
- Serving the community with Friday night dining services in their restaurant, fully prepared and served by the participants, and overseen by local chefs who were part of the culinary training program
- Managing and tending their own spacious garden to grow foods served in their dining room
The founder took board recruitment to a new level by going to individuals who could benefit if the nonprofit succeeded. Each board member could benefit from success–reduced crime, increased skilled workers, more high school graduations, etc. For ten years this program has been a resounding success. Recidivism is under 10%.
What makes this organization so successful is its strategically-built board that not only had a heart and some dollars for the mission, but a true, real world, vested interest in its success.
So, when recruiting new candidates for your board, I suggest you seek ones with an extra motivation to see your nonprofit succeed. You just may double your impact and solve more than just one problem.