FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Jellema
Marlboro College Graduate School (802) 451-‐7510
$200,000 Federal Grant to Jumpstart Nonprofit Capacity Building Program in Vermont
Small to midsize nonprofit organizations across Vermont will make a leap forward in the area of performance measurement over the next two years. A $200,000 federal grant to Marlboro College’s Benchmarks for a Better Vermont (BBVT) program is targeted to help nonprofits develop specific ways to gather data and assess the impact of their work. This technical support comes at a critical time. A recent report from the Vermont Community Foundation pointed out that the growing demands for Vermont’s nonprofit sector services are straining its capacity to keep up. An efficient and transparent system of tracking impact is essential for groups to evaluate the effectiveness of their various programs.
The award from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will launch a new consortium dedicated to strengthening the state’s nonprofits. Common Good Vermont; United Ways of Vermont and the United Ways of Addison, Chittenden, Lamoille and Windham County; SerVermont; the Vermont Community Foundation; and Marlboro College each play a key role (see below) in building the capacity of nonprofit groups to serve their constituents. This two-‐ year grant will let consortium members combine their experience to make significant, sustained improvements in the way nonprofits help Vermonters achieve healthy futures, excellent education, and economic opportunities.
“The State depends on this sector to support human services, the arts, the environment, and other areas that improve our quality of life,” says Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-‐ Lovell. “I’m pleased that Marlboro College can work closely with the other consortium partners to increase the ability of our nonprofit sector to achieve results.”
“Vermont’s nonprofit organizations do great work, but too often lack the tools, institutional support, funds, and staff time to conduct meaningful evaluations,” explains Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “Involving nonprofits from across the state in developing these new tools is truly a groundbreaking approach that could lead to future collaborative efforts.” The Foundation is providing $70,000 in matching funds for the project.
Using a widely recognized model for tracking outcomes, known as Results-Based Accountability, BBVT will raise awareness about systems of performance measurement, then create a ladder of opportunity that will begin with a basic training at the 2012 Vermont Nonprofit Conference, followed by a formal assessment and competitive process to select 15 small to midsize nonprofits for a 75-hour, 16-month intensive Performance Institute. BBVT will also convene a group of grant-makers and other stakeholders to advance a statewide conversation about systems of performance management.
“We are so excited to work with our partners to improve nonprofit effectiveness in Vermont,” adds Common Good Vermont Director Lauren-Glenn Davitian. “As nonprofits ourselves, we bring our understanding of the sector and the trust we’ve developed with so many service providers to help this new program take off quickly.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. In announcing this grant, Robert Velasco, Acting CEO of the CNCS said “With millions of people and families facing uncertain futures, it is critical to help the nonprofit sector drive community solutions. Through these grants and other efforts, we are helping nonprofits better deliver and demonstrate results on pressing problems.”
- Common Good VT: Clearinghouse for nonprofit resources (www.CommonGoodVT.org), adept in using new media to reach nonprofits around the state and a strong history of successful event planning focused on shorter training sessions.
- SerVermont (formerly the Vermont Commission on National and Community Service): a State Agency that has a wide reach in the state’s nonprofit community as well as experience running programs such as Americorps and Vista.
- Marlboro College: offers education for nonprofit leaders, including board trainings, a professional development Certificate, and a graduate program in managing mission-‐ driven organizations.
- United Ways of Vermont: The United Ways of Vermont have made a commitment to tracking the community impact of the programs they fund. United Way of Chittenden County has led the state in understanding and implementing Results-Based Accountability. United Way of Addison County has an educational model for the smaller, one-on-one trainings of nonprofits around performance management based on their successful peer learning circles.
- Vermont Community Foundation:Vermont’s largest foundation, managing a collection of 600 funds that invest more than $18 million annually in Vermont. The Foundation is committed to strengthening the capacity of the state’s nonprofit sector through a variety of grants and services.