All Articles Tagged "nonprofits"

Nonprofit City Year Uses Corporate Sponsors To Reach Its Educational Goals

April 22nd, 2015 - By Rachael Devaney
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MBH15City Year began as a small idealistic venture in the heart of Boston, but it has grown into a global nonprofit largely because of its worldwide corporate participation.

More than half the financial support for City Year’s mission comes from corporations and foundations, which helps further the fight against the public school dropout crisis across the nation. According to the City Year website, through these partnerships, the education-focused, nonprofit organization has been able to expand from 50 City Year AmeriCorps members in 1988 to 2,700 leaders who serve in 240 schools throughout 26 U.S. cities as well as South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Corporate partners include companies like Comcast NBC Universal, PepsiCo, Microsoft, and BainCapital. Chris Mann, vice president of corporate partnerships for City Year, explained that the capital provided by these companies, enables provides for individual support in the form of in-class tutoring, mentoring and after school programs to students that need that extra care and attention.

“These corporations are helping support capacity, such as with the recruitment of corps members, and leadership development. They also often provide additional funding which can help identify and support local sites that may be in need of the influx of corps members,” Mann said.

When corporate sponsors do join the City Year team, Mann said there are many benefits including branding and logo placement, the ability to impact youth development, as well as the chance to sponsor youth teams by implementing their own staff that can volunteer to work directly with students.

“Obviously corporations want to bring about the branding and awareness of their corporation, but they also genuinely want to give back to these schools. Another focal point is their own employee engagement. Their staff offers specific skills they can bring to the table. For example, Microsoft has people that are very good in math and engineering and they come out and work with the students during a ‘Math Night,’ or a science and technology event,” Mann says. “There are many diverse ways in which these companies get involved and they all help these students stay on track with studies and attendance.”

Typically, when it comes to approaching a corporation to be involved with City Year, Mann tells company leadership that because of issues like poverty and hunger, students’ ability to both get to school and be ready and able to learn is affected, resulting in a U.S. high school drop out every 31 seconds.

“Less than 60 percent of students in certain urban communities are reaching the sixth grade. But as bleak as that sounds its a solvable problem. We know where these students are and we know how to help them as early as elementary school,” Mann said. “We then target those in danger of dropping out and provide the intervention to the right students at the right time and that’s what we talk to our partners about. We show them that with the correct resources, we have the ability to give students the extra support which can help bridge the gap between what schools give and what students need.”

And along with educating partners on the issues and providing statistics that surround U.S. drop out rates, he also speaks about “how special” the corps members are and what they are doing to directly impact the lives of students on an every day basis.

“Corps members are made up of idealistic recent high school and college graduates that are giving one year of service to these current high school students and they are a highly impressive group. There is an incredibly diverse population among corps members with 60 percent that are people of color, 83 percent that are college grads, and 58 percent who are interested in engaging in a teaching career,” Mann says. “Before they are sent into the schools, they have 3,000 training hours under their belt, and they can relate to these students and can reach them in a way that maybe a teacher can’t. They are peers that the students can identify with and can trust and open up to.”

Leila-Portrait-printsize-elliothaney (1 of 1)Leila Bailey-Stewart, managing director of national recruitment for City Year (right), began as a corps member 12 years ago and has continued on because of its ability to join forces with organizations across the country. She explained that the nonprofit not only focuses on education but also affectively produces positive change within students that helps them finish high school and move on to college. Throughout her years of involvement, Stewart says she has gone so far as providing wake-up phone calls to make sure students are on time for class. She said her involvement has helped change the lives of students throughout New York, but has also afforded her “amazing experiences,” that have changed the trajectory of her own life.

“I am from the Bronx and when I was a corps member I worked with kids one-on-one and in small groups in East Harlem and other public schools throughout New York City. The fact that I was from the area and understood what students are going through and showed them extra care and attention helped them overcome barriers – things that were holding them back from being successful,” Bailey-Stewart says. “After serving for two years I decided to work in a capacity of leadership and that opportunity has expanded my skills and allowed me to grow. And through all of my experiences I have been able to show students a microcosm of what life can be and show them the possibilities that life can offer after achieving a high school diploma.”

And through corporate partnerships, Bailey-Stewart said her and other City Year teams have also been able to execute larger scale events  such as their annual summit, which reach students from across all socioeconomic walks of life.

As far as Mann is concerned, helping students achieve educational success will always be in the best interests of corporations. He said the more kids that graduate, the better the economy will be, which will help further companies internally, as well as fuel commerce which will inspire economic growth and a better environment overall for the community and the country in general.

“Corporations are mostly driven by results. So for these businesses to see a boost in business, and a return on their investment is huge. Companies are starting to realize that the more dropouts there are, the more students are going to be incarcerated or dependent on social services, which puts more pressure on the community and the country as a whole to support them and that is a huge concern for our economic future and smart companies recognize that,” he said. “So the bottom line is that the return on investment is good for student, the society, the company and the employees that work for them. It’s a win-win and it works for us all.”’s Allison Jones Uses Social Media To Connect Nonprofits With Those Who Want To Do Good

June 13th, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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Allison Jones, editor at Idealist

Allison Jones serves as editor of, a site for nonprofit organizations and professionals that connects people who want to do good. The site hosts a nonprofit job board, and Allison manages the organization’s blogs and social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

“Idealist acts as a connector,” she told MadameNoire. “We make it easy for organizations to find people to help them fulfill their mission. We attract individuals who want to do good, and, for the organizations, we make it easy for them to reach out to those people.”

Jones spoke to MadameNoire about how nonprofits can leverage social media, her goals for the rest of the year, and diversity within the nonprofit sector.

MadameNoire: What’s your perspective on social media for Idealist and what is your strategy?

Allison Jones: I try to align anything we do in social with our big three organizational objectives. The first one, organizationally, is “Everyone who can benefit from Idealist knows about it.” The second is, “People who connect with us always leave with one actionable step.” And the last one is “We’re operating sustainably.” Social can help with all of those, but the first two especially.

For my job, the first objective means I need to define the audience and then expand our reach by engaging with that audience. And the second objective tells me about the kind of content we need to be creating: making sure it’s actionable, making sure it’s helpful, and making sure I’m tracking people’s steps. Are they sharing it? Do they say they like it? That sort of thing. The social media strategy is aligned with furthering these objectives.

MN: Why is it important for nonprofits to use social media and technology?

AJ: Internally, social media is really helpful for staying on top of trends in your field, building knowledge, and staying connected to other people. When we talk about social media, we generally talk about it from an external, grow-your-audience, perspective. But internally, for your own professional development, your own knowledge, and your own awareness and sharing, social media is incredible.

On the external side, I love social media, but the first questions should always be where is your audience? And what is the purpose? Organizations would get really excited about Twitter, but then they say, “Oh, we want to reach 15-year-olds. Maybe we should have a mobile strategy instead of a Twitter strategy.” It’s important to think about that and be critical when you’re planning.

MN: Looking at the nonprofit sector overall, do you see a lot of ethnic and racial diversity?

AJ: It depends on the organization and it depends on the role. At my last job, where I worked for a nonprofit that managed charter schools, I saw a lot of women of color, which is important for me. I was a fundraising and marketing manager and every other month or so I met with other women of color who did the same thing at other charter schools. We were all doing communications-type work for charter schools, and it was wonderful to see other professional young women of color, but it was also like a brain trust and we had a nice back-and-forth.

As far as across the sector, I think we could definitely do better, especially as we get to the executive ranks, which is a problem cross-sector. A lot of companies and organizations, for-profit or nonprofit, are getting better at getting people in the door, but what does turnover look like among the people of color that you attract? Are they rising up and do they have a variety of positions? These are the kinds of questions that come up and they are something that we just have to keep working through.

Social Media Advisor Cheryl Contee Shares Says African Americans Must See Themselves As Digital Creators

April 1st, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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Cheryl Contee

Cheryl Contee, a co-founder of Fission Strategy, works with nonprofit organizations and foundations to improve their digital outreach: blogging, tweeting, Facebook, and more. Contee describes the company as “specializing in social media for social good,” and was founded in 2008. She works with organizations like the One CampaignDefine AmericanAmnesty International, and

In addition to her work as co-founder of the Jack and Jill Politics blog, she is active in the digital space, on Twitter, and moderated a recent Social Media Week Panel on multicultural mobile consumers.

MadameNoire spoke to Contee about her work with nonprofits, trends in social media, and how the black community is active on social media and mobile devices.

MadameNoire: Why did you decide to start Fission Strategy? Why is it important to get nonprofits to use technology to their full advantage?

Cheryl Contee: I co-founded Fission as a business, as a for-profit, which would keep us focused and structured on innovation, to provide specialized, tailored services for nonprofits and foundations. Nonprofits don’t always have the same budgets, but certainly they have an advantage in this new arena, where individuals are so empowered through social media and can use their voices, use their networks, and use their technological savvy to inspire others around a given cause. They aren’t selling laptops or soap or football tickets, but they are selling ideas and inspiration.

MN: What are some nonprofit organizations that you work with, and what are they doing in social?

CC: Moms Rising is doing an incredible job. They do tweet chats with the White House, and they have an incredible passionate and engaged membership. During the election, we worked with OurTime, which works with young people, and we were able to get voter registration widgets on the Facebook pages of folks like Lady Gaga, Will Smith,, Jess Alba, Eva Longoria, and Trey Songz. We also worked with Tumblr to have the same online voter registration widget. Overall, that ended up driving more than 300,000 registrations, which is the kind of difference-maker that we try to achieve.

MN: I saw you moderated a panel during Social Media Week about multicultural mobile consumers. How do you see the African-American community using mobile more or differently than the general market or other demographics?

CC: Certainly, there are lots of different stats on this, but social media use is really heavy for African Americans. Pew Internet had a study out last year that said that something like 25 percent of online African Americans use Twitter and 10 percent use it every day. That’s a real dominance when you think about the millions [of Twitter users]. And that’s at least twice the rate of whites. A lot of people are using Twitter on their mobile device, either through apps or text messaging.

MN: And is it only about using social media on mobile devices, or are text messaging campaigns and mobile advertising still intriguing for nonprofits and corporations as they try to reach multicultural consumers?

CC: Any technology that is accessible via mobile is something that is important.

When you look at mobile advertising, there are some great numbers that came out Nielsen that show that, when you look at mobile ads, minorities are more likely to see them and click on them and to actually consider those. It’s a really useful way to stretch your ad dollars and make the most of your ad dollars.

[Editor’s Note: During the Social Media Week Panel, Monica Bannan, VP of product leadership at Nielsen showed stats about mobile advertising. After seeing a social media ad, 18 percent of African-Americans shared that ad, 29 percent “liked” it, and 18 percent went on to purchase the product. This is compared to 13 percent of whites who shared the ad, 24 percent who liked it, and 12 percent who purchased a product.]

MN: Beyond the mobile trend, what else are you seeing with regards to the black community when it comes to social media, and what technologies are you focusing on for the next year or so?

CC: Certainly, we’re working to understand the power of Tumblr and Instagram, which is more integrated into Facebook, and having the notion of photo filters and hashtags attached to photos. We’re paying attention to that trend and the shift in the market. And again, a lot of these trends and innovations are actually driven by a change in consumer behavior around mobile devices. We are really trying to pay attention to that.

What is key for African Americans going forward is to see themselves not just as powerful consumers—African Americans are more likely than some other groups to own smartphones, to use social media, to use advanced internet—but to see themselves going beyond consumers to become creators. That’s the future of careers, the future of our economy and the future of prosperity for our community. We need to take our demonstrated tech savvy to the next level, launch our own companies, and create products that other people find useful.

Tech Talk: Arts Organizations Turn to Digital and Social Tools for Support

January 10th, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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Arts organizations across the US have seen the benefits of incorporating technology and digital tools into their marketing, fundraising, and audience engagement — and those organizations focusing on black arts and culture are among them.

According to a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 81 percent of arts organizations that have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts said that the internet and digital technologies are very important to promoting the arts. Additionally, 78 percent said they are important for audience engagement and 65 percent highlighted the importance for fundraising.

“I think that I do agree. Reluctantly agree,” said Valerie Gay, executive director of Philadelphia-based Art Sanctuary, of the Pew data. “I do agree that digital technology has positively impacted and been beneficial to the arts.  But it depends on the area.” The Art Sanctuary uses the power of black arts to transform lives and unite communities, drawing inspiration from urban centers and inner city communities. It hosts prison music programs and after-school writing and currently is working on a partnership with the Opera Company of Philadelphia called “HipH’opera.”

In the Pew study, arts organizations said that they use their own websites, blogs, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, online video- and photo-sharing, and online purchases of tickets and merchandise as part of their outreach to the community. Digital tools allow organizations to post or stream performances, as well as present online exhibits and host educational events such as webinars.

Lupe Fiasco joins an Art Sanctuary rap session. Via Facebook.

Lupe Fiasco joins an Art Sanctuary rap session. Via Facebook.

The Art Sanctuary demonstrates all of that, using its website, Facebook, Twitter, and online videos to connect with its audience. For its annual Celebration of Black Writing over the summer, the organization live-streamed its events with help from a local cable access station.

But challenges remain. As with many nonprofit organizations with smaller staffs, the time and resources needed for incorporating such digital technologies are often lacking.

“We’re trying to make sure we make the right decisions about which technology or which medium to use,” Gay said. “As long as it’s free, we can try it and I’m all for it, but if we’re having difficult time allocating funds for technology that may not be tried and true yet. We’ll do the best we can to be on the cutting edge, but at the same time, we have to be practical too.”

The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, which agreed that one of its biggest challenges is funding, is currently re-designing its website. It is also on Facebook and is working on creating a Twitter account.

“Our revenue comes solely from membership dues, events, and grants,” the organization said in an email to Madame Noire. “It sometimes is financially difficult to get a knowledgeable individual to create a brand new attractive site that will increase our audience base as well as someone to maintain the site. Not to mention the purchase and maintenance of the devices to allow us to stay relevant in the digital world.”

Pew found that 49 percent of organizations surveyed have sought funding specifically for technology and digital advancements within their organization.

One such advancement is mobile, which is increasing as a tool for arts organizations. The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago said it has plans to introduce mobile applications to keep the community informed of events.

“Mobile connectivity is beginning to drive some activity in arts organizations,” the Pew report stated. “Some 24 percent of these respondents say they use apps to provide content to the public; 17 percent say they use apps to facilitate work in their own organization; 15 percent use apps to sell tickets or services; 5 percent use apps to train and educate employees.”

As consumers continue to turn to social media, mobile devices and other tools to connect with friends, brands, and nonprofit organizations, these digital tools will play an important role in not only the marketing, fundraising, online sales, and community building of all arts organizations, but also their survival.

Leaders in Giving: Ten African-American Women Who Are Making An Impact At Nonprofits

December 12th, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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Women make up only 21 percent of leadership roles at nonprofit organizations with more than $25 million budgets, according to the “Benchmarking Women’s Leadership” study from the Women’s College of the University of Denver and The White House Project.

And minority women, including African Americans, make up an even smaller percentage. Here are some amazing African-American women who are leading cool nonprofit organizations across the country.

Beverly Bond, CEO of Black Girls Rock!
Launched in 2006, Black Girls Rock! is a youth enrichment and empowerment program based in New York that encourages young black women to get involved in music, culture, and the arts. Founder Beverly Bond has grown the organization to include a leadership camp and an annual awards show, which took place for the seventh time in 2012 and aired on BET on November 4.

Good Works: The Top Black Philanthropists And How You Can Give Back

November 7th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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At The Angel Ball last month. Image: PNP/

When it comes to community service, African Americans give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites, according to findings by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Root recently looked at the top 12 philanthropists and included were a number of black celebrities and businesspeople.

Most people are aware of Bill and Camille Cosby’s long history of philanthropy–in 1988, they donated $20 million to Spelman College, the largest gift ever given to a black institution. This is just one of their major donations. They also run the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation to fulfill the goals and dreams of their son, who sought to initiate change through education. 

But did you know Alicia Keys was a top philanthropist as well? She co-founded Keep a Child Alive with AIDS activist and film-television producer Leigh Blake in 2003. It is committed to providing AIDS medicine and care to children and families in India and Africa. In 2010, Keys’ Digital Death campaign raised over $1 million for Keep a Child Alive through Twitter and Facebook donations.

A black philanthropy list wouldn’t be complete without Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey. Simmons, in fact, has been called the “Godfather of Hip-Hop Philanthropy,” for raising millions of dollars to benefit urban youth through his Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

Oprah, of course, is the top AfricanAmerican philanthropist. She has donated more than $300 million through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Oprah’s Angel Network and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. “Forty million dollars alone went toward the creation of Winfrey’s leadership academy for girls in South Africa. One hundred percent of proceeds from Winfrey’s Angel Network funds charitable projects and grants globally,” states the Root.

But you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to give back. It is not only money to donate but time as well. Donate time to a homeless center or a grassroots community organization. But if you do want to give money to an organization, research first.

“They are not all 501(c)3s. You want to understand the type, and know what it means for the public and you, the prospective donor,”  says Amanda Ebokosia, executive director and founder of The Gem Project, a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated in building leaders through the development of educational enrichment programs for youth and young adults. Find out what type of nonprofit it is, either contact them directly or visit sites like Charity Navigator, for organizational information if listed. And check out sites like Volunteer Match to find a listing of organizations that suit your interests, advises Ebokosia. “Above all, you want to know the intentions of the organization, how they’re governed, and what they’ll offer for the community.” 

And, you don’t have to have a lot of money to donate. “With the spark of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, we’ve found how great impact can be measured, by small contributions,” says Ebokosia

Another option are giving circles, groups of individuals who donate money or time to a pooled fund for charity or community projects. “It focuses on the collaborative efforts of individual contributions… to yield a bigger impact to support and fund a shared interest,” Ebokosia points out.  

Interested in getting involved even further, check out Friends of Ebonie, a full service social responsibility and career enrichment firm for millennials of color. And right now, given the ongoing relief effort for Hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross is always an option.

The Force Behind Glenn Beck’s Firing

April 11th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AP) — Organizations that led boycotts of Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck say they will continue to monitor his programs while he finishes his television commitment on Fox and continues his radio programs.  Fox last week announced that the controversial Beck will no longer be hosting a news talk show. He will however, have a role as a producer.  “He will still be on radio. That’s another platform,” said James Rucker, executive director of the Internet-based civil rights organization Color of Change.  David Brock, founder and chairman of the media watchdog group, Media Matters, in a prepared statement said: “ As long as conservatives continue to broadcast misinformation and hate speech, we’ll keep working around the clock to monitor and fact-check it and to prevent it from influencing the national dialogue.”

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Grads Turn to Nonprofits in Sagging Economy

March 2nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — If Alison Sadock had finished college before the financial crisis, she probably would have done something corporate. Maybe a job in retail, or finance, or brand management at a big company — the kind of work her oldest sister, who graduated in the economically effervescent year of 2005, does at PepsiCo.   “You know, a normal job,” Ms. Sadock says.  But she graduated in a deep recession in the spring of 2009 when jobs were scarce. Instead of the merchandising career she had imagined, she landed in public service, working on behalf of America’s sickest children.

Ms. Sadock is part of a cohort of young college graduates who ended up doing good because the economy did them wrong.  As job hunts became tough after the crisis, anecdotal evidence suggested that more young people considered public service. Exactly how big that shift was is now becoming clear: In 2009 alone, 16 percent more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11 percent more for nonprofit groups, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau. A smaller Labor Department survey showed that the share of educated young people in these jobs continued to rise last year.

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Zimbabwe Orphans Get Chicago Support

February 28th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — When Elizabeth Mhangami was 15, she helped administer polio vaccinations to children in rural Zimbabwe. The villages were not far from her hometown, Bulawayo, but today Ms. Mhangami can see that the short journey altered her perception.    “That’s where I got my first sense of community service, of looking outside my immediate world,” she said.

Ms. Mhangami went much farther afield in 1999, leaving Zimbabwe to pursue her education, first in Baltimore and then in Chicago, where she studied political science and women’s studies at Loyola University.  Now 30, Ms. Mhangami lives in Bulawayo, where she serves as founder and executive director of Vanavevhu, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago and dedicated to helping Zimbabwe’s large population of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

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African American Engineer and Chicago Entrepreneur Takes on Obesity Epidemic

January 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Rolling Out) — Pasha Hunt-Golliday is on a crusade to combat the food deserts in urban communities. A licensed power plant engineer, journeyman union iron worker and merchant marine by trade, Hunt-Golliday’s compassion for her people has led her on a different path.  Her nonprofit WPAHOA (The Washington Park Area Homeowners Association) aims to eliminate food deserts, promote healthy family meals, physical activity and community stewardship.

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