Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 12
ten-minute car ride to get to a doctor’s appointment for you or I might have taken them an hour and a half with bus transfers. That limits their ability to care for their children and themselves. All of that began the greater conversation on the types of committees we needed in addressing poverty. Child care: when somebody goes to work, do they have child care? Transportation system: how does our bus system get people to their necessary appointments or to a job that is not downtown? Do we have routes for people on the outskirts of the city, or are they spending two hours to get around within a five-mile radius? Poverty to Progress We created committees through our Poverty to Progress initiative to galvanize the community and show what we think we need to do in reducing the challenges and the barriers.Then we asked community members from all strata to work on a committee and discuss the challenges. The community identified the greatest
challenges, how to begin work on them, and how to apply resources.That was a year of asking people to commit to need. The city council created a salaried position to work as the glue for this work, a liaison between city government, nonprofits, and citizens. We also committed grant funds to put skin in the game. If an individual or organization has an idea to help our communities, they can apply for a grant up to $5,000, for a total of $25,000, and then leverage that with another nonprofit or another grant or other work that will make actionable goals become reality. Each committee developed two actionable goals they would work on during the year with funding tied to it.We have seen some great partnerships happen out of that. The biggest part of the work was getting people to talk to each other.Entities that are responsible for federal or state dollars don’t always talk to each other. Everyone needs their own system of data collection and their own outcomes, but we are all still in one city. You may be responsible for human
and have less funding, while they have money that can be used, but they’ve been unsuccessful. There is not one answer already there. We are working toward the answers with conversation, creating the expectation that this is for the benefit of our community. We set the tone that we want this to be operating in the spirit of excellence. With whatever ideas and resources, we want to put our best feet forward.We have to build it so that folks have stellar service and opportunities. We can’t do things in a mediocre manner, although it may seem easier. We get to a certain level, and then it’s too hard. We work a grant, and then the funds dry up, so the work goes away. But people still suffer. If you are not able to complete or continue the work, then you sometimes leave a neighborhood and its folks behind. Reframing Leadership We must reframe leadership as influence rather than authority, and spend a lot of time connecting and building relationships. I know that I am weak in certain areas. Pick something to delegate to someone else.We all have skills and talents. Besides being an influencer, be an encourager. I appreciate the previous mayor putting me beside her as vice mayor. She led dialogues on race and racism and healthy initiatives in our city. I watched her be an organizer and pull people together. I have worked for private and public organizations, for superintendents and the public school division. I worked as the public information officer for the public school division, sitting in on every school board meeting for eight or nine years, and sitting in on joint city council and school board retreats. I watched how leadership engaged, interacted, talked to staff, and built their teams over the years with various city managers and school superintendents. I’ve seen the importance of building a great team that can build a vision. They understand why we’re doing something. We trust people to do their job because this outcome is a reflection on all of us. Building a team of folks who understand their roles and allowing them to carry it out toward that mission or vision just works better.
or social services work with city funding, while another agency is responsible for poverty reduction with federal dollars. We need to see that we are all serving the same families, and determine how we can serve them differently. You may do this very well
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