The nonprofit sector exists to build and support healthy, vibrant, and engaged communities. Therefore, it has become important to invest in the advancement of skills in employees of nonprofit organizations, who are key leaders in their communities.
In early 2017, the Community Foundation, in partnership with the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, announced a three-year investment in capacity-building for individual neighborhood leaders and nonprofits serving the Brightmoor neighborhood in northwest Detroit. The goal of the Supporting Brightmoor Leaders program was to provide training and professional development resources for people and organizations in Brightmoor. Capacity-building is often the first thing to be eliminated from tight nonprofit budgets. This program made staff development a priority, which benefited the individual, the organization, and the community.
Following the announcement of the program, Community Foundation staff held technical assistance sessions in the neighborhood to help residents design capacity-building projects that would address the needs of the community. Additionally, the Foundation hired a consultant to help people draft and finalize competitive application materials that increased the likelihood of funding. With capacity-building resources, Brightmoor residents and organizations will be better positioned to achieve their missions.
The awarded grants supported leaders who oversee a myriad of community-focused projects, including arts and humanities, economic development, environmental and urban affairs, and early childhood education. For instance, Sidewalk Detroit, a grassroots community arts presenting organization, was able to bring in Lisa Hoffman, director of the Alliance for Artist Communities and an expert in artist-residency programs, to provide program-based development training.