UPPER MARLBORO — As part of its ongoing initiative to strengthen nonprofit organizations throughout Prince George’s County, and in turn, better serve the county’s youth, the Prince George’s County Council announced the expansion of its partnership with Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) to continue their Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative on Jan. 24.
“The program is something they’ve been working on within the county for several years,” said County Council Chair Todd Turner. “Part of that work, there has been conversations over the several years about trying to increase the capacity of our not for profits here in Prince George’s County.
“So two years ago, the council partnered with VPP since they were already doing their ready for work program to do another component which we say is the not for profit capacity building portion.”
Ready for Work is a six-year, $15 million investment from VPP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the lives of young people in the area through similar programs.
By investing in the future of youth in at-risk areas in Prince George’s County, the goal is to have 2,775 students from Suitland, Oxon Hill and High Point High Schools be College-and-Career-Ready and have another 400 graduates in the pipeline every year after.
With the help of the county council, VPP created the Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative in 2017 as an extension of Ready For Work that focuses on nonprofit organizations.
“We wanted to be able to grow and strengthen the nonprofits that exist in Prince George’s County so that they will have the capacity to do this work,” said VPP Partner Telaekah Brooks. “Many of them have great programs. They just don’t have the capacity to serve to go from say serving 50 students per year to 400 students per year is kind of a stretch if you don’t have the capacity to build your organization.”
The overall goal of the program is to build the capacity of those service providers that provide direct programming to youth, build expertise within the management structure of those nonprofits succession building and instruct them on fundraising, grants and other foundation based awards which the county has been lacking a little bit in the past, Turner said.
“They will be able to measure and evaluate their programs effectively and show that they can move the needle with the vulnerable youth they serve. So if they are in academic enrichment then they have a program that they are now evaluating that they can show and demonstrate they are increasing the academic preparation of the students,” Brooks said.
Over the last two fiscal years, the county council has set aside funds for cohorts of nonprofits that deal primarily with youth-related programming to build their capacity to grow as a nonprofit.
The first cohort of organizations, introduced in 2018 was First Generation College Bound, Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education, Inc. (FAME), Joe’s Movement Emporium and End Time Harvest Ministries.
They will be joined in 2019 by the second cohort which consists of The Training Source, College and Career Pathways, Inc., Liberty’s Promise and Community Youth Advance.
“This is the second cohort we’ve announced. We have the first cohort which is between a two and three-year program, so it is very expansive with regards to providing mentoring to the organizations, regular communications and training as part of that process,” Turner said.
“And so this new cohort will be able to take advantage of the same type of skills and actually learn from the organizations that have already been through it.”
Community Youth Advance Executive Director Danielle K. Milner said being a part of the Nonprofit Capacity Building cohort is very beneficial at this point because the organization came about as two separate organizations merged into one, and as the first full-time executive director, it will help reinvent the Hyattsville-based nonprofit.
“We are already doubling our impact with children in Prince George’s County,” Milner said. “We are forming more partnerships with the Prince George’s County Public Schools. So we’re here in the county, we’ve always been here in the county doing great work, but now it’s about how we build the capacity to continue doing that great work and expand to serve more students.”
Meanwhile, College and Career Pathways only just began working with VPP having had their orientation last week, but Executive Director Nichole Nicolas said she hopes it can help the organization strengthen their infrastructure and programs to receive students on a deeper level. She also looks forward to working collaboratively with other nonprofits.
“What excites us is that it touches on every area of infrastructure for nonprofits,” Nicolas said. “They make sure we are as effective as possible with funding, communication and development.”