Guidelines for setting up an unpaid internship program:

Internships provide an excellent way to prepare students for the workforce, provide hands-on training and launch careers. For nonprofits, it’s an opportunity to help shape the emerging workforce, nurture an interest in the nonprofit sector and discover potential new employees.

For many of us, an intern also provides some much needed free assistance. This view, however, could lead to trouble. There have been several cases where an employer has been forced to pay back-wages to someone who completed an unpaid internship. While for-profit companies have been looked at closer than nonprofits, it is still a good idea to understand the guidelines.

Below, we’ve provided a summary of the criteria for an unpaid intern position. Plus, with input from Center member Miriam’s Kitchen, we’ve also provided a helpful checklist for setting up an internship program.

Criteria for an unpaid internship

In the Department of Labor’s internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it explains how courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern is in fact an employee. A summary of the test criteria that the internship must meet includes:

  • Be similar to training that the student would receive in an educational environment. If a college provides credit or if the intern gains experience that could be used elsewhere, this would fit the criteria.
  • Be a benefit to the intern, not the organization.
  • Not replace a paid employee, and work under close supervision of a staff member.
  • The employer gets no real advantage from the intern, and sometimes may be impeded by having the intern.
  • The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the training.
  • The employer and intern agree that the intern is not entitled to wages at the end of the internship.

When considering offering a stipend, understand that it may send mixed signals to the DOL. Either the wages are earned, or this is a training program that benefits the intern.

Internship Program Checklist

  1. Define the need. Determine what department or team could use an intern in a way that benefits the student as well as the organization.
  2. Determine the time and duration. Will it be a semester long, over winter break or during the summer? Knowing the duration will guide setting the number of hours per week and what duties to include in the program. Students may have less time during the academic semester than over the summer. Every internship should have an end date. The DOL does not let you keep an intern indefinitely.
  3. Specify the roles and responsibilities of the intern. Create a description of tasks and a timeline with check-ins to monitor progress. Include rules, policies and expectations so the intern, and your team, understands what is required right from the start. Make sure tasks/projects are reasonable and realistic.
  4. Decide if the intern will be paid, receive a stipend or be unpaid. Obtain approval from President/CEO for any payments. For unpaid internships, answer the following questions:
  • Will the intern receive course credit?
  • Are there written goals and objectives associated with the internship?
  • Is the student’s on-the-job learning beneficial to his/her future career?
  • Does the intern understand that the internship is unpaid?
  • Does the program pass the “primary beneficiary test?”
  1. Advertise the internship opportunity. Post online, on your website, circulate with colleges and universities.
  2. Collect and review applications, sharing best candidates with the hiring department.
  3. Conduct interviews either in person or via Skype.
  4. Once a candidate is selected and has accepted, complete an intern information sheet with details about criteria, school requirements and credits, etc., as well as any HR forms and return to HR.
  5. Make sure interns have an opportunity to engage with staff at multiple levels and get the most out of their experience. Consider including a rotation through several departments.
  6. Ask for feedback. At the end of the internship, ask for the intern’s perspective and input about the experience. Re-evaluate your program and adapt if needed. This is also the time to share feedback with interns about their performance.

If you have other suggestions, please share them!

Share This Page:

January 26 – 31

WJLA provided a preview of the Army Historical Foundation’s National Museum of the United States Army, set to open in 2020.

Colleen Wevodau, President of Calvary Women’s Services Board of Directors and Senior Manager at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, posted an article about the Baker Tilly Wishes campaign announcing that Calvary is one of five organizations to receive a $10,000 grant.

DC Central Kitchen received a large food donation from Tyson Foods in an effort to assist federal workers affected by the government shutdown according to KARK. DC Central Kitchen was also highlighted in WTOP for their efforts to provide fresh produce and healthy snacks to low-income areas.

The Keegan Theatre is having a special food drive throughout its run of The Baltimore Waltz to benefit Food & Friends according to Broadway World.

Humane Farm Animal Care’s animal welfare rating program was featured on Vox.

Miriam’s Kitchen discussed the limits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in The Washington Post.

Washington Regional Alcohol Program President Kurt Erickson commented on a recently released report about the increase of drunk driving related deaths in 2017 in Montgomery Community Media, WJLA, and The Washington Post.


January 12 – 25

Bright Beginnings, N Street Village and So Others Might Eat raised a total of $254,837 in this year’s The Washington Post Helping Hand Campaign. Over 1,472 individuals donated to the organizations this holiday season.

Brighter Strategies and Alliance for Nonprofit Management will co-sponsor a one-day seminar, Racial Equity and Implications for Capacity Building Practice: A Deeper Dive, on February 22 at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 901 15th Street, Washington, DC.

Casey Trees discussed the relocation of a 600,000 pound tree in Washington, DC on WAMU 88.5.

Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director, Jeffrey Chester, discussed data privacy regulation in USA TODAY.

Research by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) revealing Asian-American students pursuing higher education have the highest amount of unmet financial needs was featured in NBC News.

Food & Friends extended its services to furloughed federal employees dealing with a serious illness according to The Washington Blade.

Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Executive Director, Tina O’Connell, discussed ways the government shutdown impacted volunteer efforts over the MLK weekend in WAMU 88.5 and The Washington Post.

A report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance about bringing high-speed internet to rural communities was featured in Nonprofit Quarterly.

Latino Economic Development Center discussed ways the federal government shutdown impacts Maryland small business owners in the Baltimore Business Journal.

National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIH) discussed how the federal government shutdown is affecting nonprofit groups dedicated to helping low-income renters in The New York TimesNLIH President and CEO, Diane Yentel, expressed concerns over federal rental assistance contracts that have not been renewed due to the federal government shutdown on National Public Radio and Huffington Post.

National Catholic Educational Association announced the 2019 Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award recipient according to WTKR.

Northern Virginia Family Service will receive a $35,000 grant from the United Way of the National Capital Area according Fairfax Times. Funds will be used to provide rental, mortgage and utility assistance. United Way NCA was also featured in a Washington Business Journal article on local nonprofits stepping up to assist furloughed federal employees.

Washington Regional Alcohol Program President, Kurt Erickson, commented on the need for stronger seat-belt laws in Virginia on WHSV.


January 4 – 11

Applications to the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington are now open! Being part of the Catalogue network means you will be recognized as “one of the best” high-impact, community-based nonprofits in the region. Learn more at

The Center for Nonprofit Advancement and Serve DC will partner again to implement Volunteer Generation Fund 2019, building on the success of VGF 2018. The program supports increasing the number of volunteer men of color working with nonprofit organizations in the District. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, January 16.

Fairfax Leadership is now accepting applications for the classes of 2019 – 2020. To help applicants learn more about the process, several free virtual webinars have been scheduled.

Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter Director Judy Hanley applauded Virginia State Del. Wendy Gooditis for introducing legislation aimed at combating child abuse, specifically sexual abuse in the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

National Low Income Housing Coalition discussed ways the federal government shutdown is impacting local public housing authorities and individuals who rely on rental assistance programs in Curbed, WUSA9 and CNBC.

Arlington County Board announced the recent appointment of David Heilig to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District according to InsideNoVA.

United Way of the National Capital Area was one of the local organizations featured on WUSA9 and InsideNoVA for their efforts to provide furloughed federal workers with food, rent and utility assistance

Share This Page:

Thank you to all who responded to our recent survey on the effects of the federal government shutdown. We heard from nonprofit organizations of varying types, budget sizes and locations throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Here’s what we learned

~ Although just a little over 50% of survey respondents receive federal funding, the shutdown had an impact across the board.

~ It was encouraging to see almost 90% of respondents had operating funds in reserve, although only 40% of those had three months or more.

~ 50% of all respondents saw an increase in service needs during the shutdown, but only 30% had program supplies in reserve. Of those, 60% had to tap into their reserves.

~ Even more significant than the quantifiable stats was the immeasurable impact on nonprofits, families and the community.

“It is clear that a strong nonprofit sector is critical when our residents and communities are in crisis,” observes Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement. “We are proud of the support our network provided and encourage a replenishment of reserves and greater coordination in preparation for any future challenges.”

Some of the impact stories shared:

“We provided a 5-day supply of groceries to over 400 furloughed government workers and contractors.”

“We saw a 10% increase in call volume to our 24/7 hotline; an increase in anxiety and stress for clients across all of our programs and services, especially those seeking federal assistance for basic needs like food and shelter.”

“Donors became clients. Donors terminated recurring monthly donations.”

“We have been providing additional food support for guests, including bags of full and frozen meals. And with the cold weather and ‘life threatening wind-chills,’ guests are requesting gloves, hand warmers and other essentials. The government shutdown is a reminder that many members of our community could be just a few paychecks from experiencing homelessness.”

“As an environmental organization headquartered in the DC region, we provide a lot of programming and stewardship of public lands. During the shutdown, we were unable to access Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, where we keep freshwater mussels for an education program. We have also responded to calls about trash and illegal dumping at federally-managed sites and worked with the city to remove more than 400 tires that were illegally dumped during the shutdown on National Park Service land.”

“… a sense of demoralization. Our constituency assumed/believed that the government was solid, an institution that could be trusted, relied on. There has been a definite sense of loss, hope and trust.”

These narratives deliver a clear reminder of the valuable and vital support nonprofits provide our communities.

Resources to share with your clients and those in need:

•  Metropolitan Washington Council of Government 
•  United Way National Capital Area
•  Helpline 2-1-1: This free and confidential helpline provides information about social, health and government resources, and connects callers to community resources in their local community. 2-1-1 is available in multiple languages 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available to callers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Share This Page:

Every member of a nonprofit’s team has an important role in advocacy, even if it’s not included in their assigned responsibilities. If you work or volunteer for a nonprofit, then you are most likely passionate about its cause and in a prime position to advocate on its behalf. Whether you’re a regular at legislative hearings, or you just want to tell your friends why your nonprofit’s services are so valuable, having the right tools will help you deliver your message successfully.

Five key skills for excellence in advocacy:

Show your passion – How often have you been in a situation where someone is trying to pitch you on a product or idea and it’s obvious they don’t really believe in it themselves? The first thing you do is question their real motive. Next, you tune them out. As an advocate for your organization’s mission you’ll be effective when you let your passion for the cause shine through. This is one time when it’s great to wear your heart on your sleeve!

Know your subject – You need to make a case for your issue or cause, and you need to be able to respond to questions and objections. Know everything about what your nonprofit does, who it serves, how it makes an impact, so you can speak with authority. Not only will you be more effective, you’ll position yourself as an expert that your audience can rely on for the future.

Practice diplomacy – This one can sometimes be the hardest. When you are trying to win someone over, avoid getting angry and steer away from insults. As an advocate you want to build support for your cause. Skilled advocates understand the difference between stating a case and starting an argument. You’ll make more progress by practicing the art of patience and showing respect for differing opinions.

Be persistent – If diplomacy is the art of patience, persistence is the art of stamina. It doesn’t always come naturally – most of us are uncomfortable with confrontation. As an effective advocate, you’ll want to demonstrate an ability to overcome obstacles, avoid showing frustration, don’t be discouraged when success does not come easily and don’t give up.

Communicate well – Advocates often need to make their case around complex issues that may stir up strong reactions. Perhaps the most critical skill for excellence in advocacy is to be an effective communicator. Here is where practice is most important. If you need to speak in public, try stating your case in front of a friendly audience first and ask for constructive feedback. With written communications, get started early, organize your thoughts and make sure a fresh set of eyes reads what you’ve written before it goes out. Typos are not an advocate’s friend!

These key skills are ones we can all develop with a bit of practice. The more tools in your toolbox and the more you use them, the better you’ll be at doing a great job. Keep at it and you can help change the world!

Share This Page:

Two new positions are now open!

As we head into our 40th year, the Center plans to deepen our commitment and support of nonprofits in our region. To expand our outreach and advance our member services to the next level, the Center is adding two new staff members to our internal team.

Membership Associate
Communications Associate*


To apply: Send cover letter (REQUIRED) and resume to Taylor Strange.
*Communications Associate application also REQUIRES three (3) writing samples.

Application DEADLINE: 5:00pm on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Please help us spread the word. We encourage all qualified individuals to apply!

Share This Page:

In December 2018, the Center hosted a panel discussion in Prince William County entitled An Insider’s Perspective: Advocacy Efforts That Work!” The panelists included three individuals with extensive experience as staff to legislators. They shared some of their insider tips about how to make the most effective use of your time meeting with legislators to advocate for your mission and issues important to your organization.

The panelists were:

  • Philip Scranage, current Legislative Aide to Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell
  • Devon Cabot, current Vice President at Two Capitols Consulting, former Legislative Aide to Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike and former Chief of Staff to Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi (Prince William County Board of Supervisors)
  • Ross Snare, current Director of Government Affairs, Prince William Chamber of Commerce and former Legislative Aide to Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, former Legislative Aide to Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity and former Session Aide to Majority Caucus Chairman Delegate Tim Hugo.

Strategically timed to take place in advance of the Virginia legislative session convening in January, the event drew nonprofits from the Prince William County area. However, the information shared is relevant for all nonprofits looking to advocate with elected officials. So we wanted to share some of these key tips and advice from legislative “insiders”.

8 tips to strengthen your impact when meeting with elected officials:

  1. Most important – Come Informed! Before meeting with your legislator know where he/she stands on the issue you want to discuss. If it’s a specific bill, know the status of that bill and whether your legislator agrees or disagrees with your position. Know what committees the legislator sits on and whether or not the committee has already voted on that bill. (Don’t waste the legislator’s time or yours by advocating for a bill that has already died in committee!)
  2. Be a constituent of that legislator or have a constituent with you. Legislators want most of all to hear from constituents in their own district.
  3. Build coalitions: If your organization does not have constituents in a particular legislator’s district, consider partnering with another organization that does. Note: the panelists agreed this is an effective tactic that nonprofits often fail to utilize.
  4. Quantify the impact. Effective advocates will be able to combine personal stories with quantifiable evidence of how the issue they are discussing will impact lives.
  5. Bring a “one-pager” about your organization—what you do, who you serve and why it matters. Be sure the legislator’s staff knows how to follow up with you with any questions. Offer to provide testimony if relevant.
  6. Bring an appropriate number of people. Among topics discussed was whether or not it is effective to bring large groups of people served to an advocacy meeting. Since time is so limited (and offices are so small), large groups were seen as less effective in educating a legislator about the specifics of an issue. The panelists viewed this tactic as most effective in a) relationship building with the legislator and b) engaging the people you serve. They suggested that town halls are a great opportunity to bring a large group. Panelists also felt that calls and emails stating your position on an issue are more effective than petitions.
  7. Make sure you get the Legislative Aide’s business card before you leave!
  8. Build a relationship. Most of all, our insiders emphasized the importance of building a relationship with your legislator over time. Invite them to visit your organization. Show up at their town halls, follow them on social media and send them your announcements. As one panelist put it, “If the first time you’re talking to your legislator is in Richmond, you’re doing it wrong”.

Share This Page:

The Center is pleased to announce the creation of South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road Main Street.


Funded through a grant awarded by the District Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), this new Main Street organization will utilize public-private partnerships and community volunteers to build on neighborhood assets and implement strategies to support and improve the business corridors in this area.

Targeted Riggs Park and Manor Park neighborhoods include:

  • South Dakota Avenue NE between Galloway Street and Riggs Road NE
  • Riggs Road NE between Chillum Place NE and the Metro tracks
  • 5600 Block 3rd Street NE and 5700 Block 2nd Street NE between Riggs Road and New Hampshire Avenue NE
  • 3rd Street NW between Rittenhouse Street and Sheridan Street NW

The founding Main Street Board of Directors includes leadership from the Lamond-Riggs and Manor Park communities:

Board Chair: Barbara Rogers, 2nd Vice President, Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association
Treasurer: Alison Brooks, Acting President, South Manor Neighborhood Association
Secretary: Rhonda Henderson, President, Manor Park Citizens Association

The Center will provide fiscal and organizational management, leadership and technical assistance for South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road Main Street.

The DC Main Streets Program is administered by DSLBD and the South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road Main Street is proud to be located in Wards 4 and 5. The Main Street Leaders, Board of Directors and all at the Center are especially grateful to District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie and DSLBD Director Kristi Whitfield for the opportunity.

For more information, please email Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement or call 202.457.0540


Share This Page:

A citywide campaign to promote volunteerism and mentoring among men of color


The Center for Nonprofit Advancement and Serve DC will partner again to implement Volunteer Generation Fund 2019 and build on the success of last year's VGF 2018. The program supports the initiative My Brother's Keeper DC—Strengthening Our Community, with the goal of increasing the number of volunteer men of color working with nonprofit organizations in the District.

Through a transparent and competitive process, five (5) Washington, DC nonprofit organizations that work with boys and young men of color will be selected to participate in the Volunteer Generation Fund. Selected organizations will receive three forms of assistance:

  • One-on-one technical assistance to improve the organization's volunteer management capacity, ultimately resulting in the creation of a project plan
  • Volunteer management training for staff and their lead volunteers
  • One-time grants of $10,000 to each selected organization for planning, building and launching unique volunteer recruitment campaigns for individuals that meet their predetermined organization short and long-term needs

The application is open to any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization­—regardless of budget size or scope of programming—based in Washington, DC. (See eligibility details below.)

Participation in the VGF program is an eight (8) month commitment (see Program Session Dates below). Selected organizations will participate in ongoing consulting, training sessions and evaluations. By the end of the fiscal year, they will be responsible for • development of volunteer descriptions • assessment of the number of volunteers hours needed • tracking how many volunteers they are able to recruit and retain • tracking the number of hours of the volunteers and • evaluating the effectiveness of their recruitment campaign.

**Application Deadline has been EXTENDED to
5pm on Wednesday, January 16, 2019**

Apply online or download the Application and submit in person or by mail.

Notifications of awards will be January 31, 2019.

For more information, see below. Or download the Full Application Packet.

Share This Page:

Those who attended this year’s sold out event were especially impressed with our featured guest, Soledad O’Brien.


Soledad sat down with Glen O’Gilvie, Center CEO, to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, sharing insights from her professional experiences as a journalist, anchor and producer. She also took questions from the audience and graciously mingled with participants during the break.

Attendees heard from Phyllis Campbell Newsome Award winners, met EXCEL Award winners, caught up with colleagues and made new connections—all while dining on a delicious lunch in a bright, sunny setting with wall-to-wall windows.

Many shared favorable feedback, including one longtime Annual Celebration veteran, who claimed this year’s event to “be the best one yet.”

If you missed the event, check out the highlights and watch the video of Soledad on our Facebook!



Share This Page:

As President and CEO of National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), Jo-Ann shares her perspective on leadership

Before becoming head of NLADA, Jo-Ann was the organization’s senior vice president for programs, responsible for oversight of both the civil legal aid and public defense program agendas. From 1994 to 2000, she served as director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, widely regarded as the nation’s model defender agency.

Jo-Ann is a founder of the American Council of Chief Defenders, a leadership council of the top defender executives from across the United States, and the District of Columbia Appellate Practice Institute. Her extensive experience lecturing includes serving as a member of the visiting faculty for the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School. Jo-Ann received recognition from the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

Tell us about your leadership style and how this contributes to your organization’s success.

Because the quality of justice should not depend on how much money a person has, the mission of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is to promote excellence in the delivery of legal services for people who cannot afford counsel.

My personal experiences stoked the flames of my passion for justice and deeply held belief in respecting the dignity of every person, regardless of their circumstances. As a young child, I learned about my father’s experiences among those who participated in desegregating the U.S. Navy during World War II. My family was raised in rural Connecticut because that is the only place in the state that would hire a young black male (my father) as a public school teacher at that time. Growing up in the first African American family in the town, I was no stranger to biting words or unfair treatment.

At bottom, justice is about treating people fairly and respectfully. As I often say to NLADA staff, it is about “treating people right”. As a standard bearer for equal justice, it is incumbent upon us to model the way, which begins with how we treat each other and extends to our members and the clients and communities that they represent. These principles ground my leadership, and are effectuated on a daily basis through listening, guiding, mentoring and encouraging creative and transformational activities that can substantially expand access to justice.

NLADA embraces leadership development as a key, cost-effective strategy for achieving our mission. We like to say that “leadership is everybody’s business”, and that it entails values, knowledge and skills that can be taught and learned. The civil legal aid initiative has increased federal grant funding for legal services by more than $30 million dollars by helping legal aid leaders expand their funding through training, information and other resources. As a strategic ally of the MacArthur Foundation’s “big bet” to reduce unnecessary incarceration by changing how America uses jails, NLADA works to support chief defenders’ ability to be transformational leaders who are playing key roles in making criminal justice systems more fair and effective.

While we rely upon the expertise of established leadership professionals and the plethora of materials that exist on “leadership”, as we work to support the development of leadership skills among staff and our member community one resource in particular, the Leadership Practices Inventory (“LPI”), continues to resonate with our organization’s core values and is a staple among the resources that we utilize to train social justice leaders.

The LPI helped to shape my early understanding of leadership as a discipline and formed the foundation of an analytical framework that continues to guide me daily. Focusing on the “Five Exemplary Leadership Practices”, inspiring a shared vision, encouraging the heart, enabling others to act and modeling the way, while continually challenging injustice and the status quo, has also served NLADA well. It has helped us to be a high performing, impactful organization as we work to ensure that low income and other vulnerable individuals have access to legal assistance to help them with basic human needs. Creating the first national Vista program for public defense programs; garnering the support of more than 250 corporate leaders to defend the Legal Services Corporation against the threat of elimination; and partnering with established organizations like the American Bar Association or a novel technology startup to increase access to justice are just a few of the many ways in which NLADA’s small but mighty staff team and dedicated national community of leaders are able to get us closer to making real the promise of justice upon which this country was founded. Believing in people, encouraging and supporting our staff, members and partners and providing opportunities for them to be their best selves – to be impactful, transformative leaders – have been essential components of our successful endeavors in expanding access to justice.

What advice would you offer for other nonprofit leaders?

Teaching and enabling others are critical components of leadership, and to be life-long teachers, we must commit to being life-long learners who embrace change. There are three aspects of this that are particularly important in our current environment.

First, in this technologically driven information age, it is more important than ever to look beyond our own communities and areas of expertise to embrace a broader, multi-disciplinary approach to our work. Technology has exponentially expanded our ability to access information and acquire knowledge. With it has come increased expectations regarding areas of mastery in defining nonprofit success, and often increased complexity in the substantive arenas upon which our missions focus. “Evidence-based” and “research-informed” practices are becoming the rule, and often the evidence or research on a particular issue of relevance will be generated in governmental or for-profit, i.e., outside of the nonprofit context. Learning and leading from a perspective that values these practices and that includes seeking knowledge and expertise that may fall outside of the nonprofit sector is becoming more critical.

Second, focusing individually and organizationally on cultural competence and skills that foster equity and inclusiveness, have always been the right things to do. In the increasingly globally-connected world, they are now becoming a business imperative, as well as a moral one.

Finally, ensuring that our efforts are carried out in organizations that effectively support a multi-generational workforce and that proactively work to develop the next generation of social justice leaders will go a long way to addressing items one and two, above. Moreover, the nonprofit sector has a key role to play in creating the peaceful, prosperous world to which we all aspire. Our outcomes will depend upon our ability to coach and train a new generation of leaders, providing them with access to knowledge gained from seasoned leaders and past history, while encouraging them to forge new and different paths to a better future.

What does this award mean for you and your organization?

The EXCEL award would support NLADA’s commitment to leadership development in the equal justice community. It would permit NLADA to more readily access the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s (“the Center”) wealth of information and tools as a member organization, which in turn would provide new resources to pass on as we train and convene more than 3000 equal justice leaders annually. It would help NLADA encourage leaders to explore and locate leadership coaches as one way of strengthening their effectiveness. Importantly, the NLADA Board of Directors passed a resolution calling on legal aid and public defense leaders to encourage staff to take the Harvard Implicit Bias test, and to provide training that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. The resources accompanying the award would support our continuing efforts to identify professional trainers and provide additional experience with them as we “model the way” in this challenging, but important area.

The EXCEL Award would also introduce NLADA to the Center’s extensive membership and help us expand cross-disciplinary partnerships. Society does not always look favorably upon lawyers. When people understand what the NLADA community of lawyers does, and their role in providing representation to the most vulnerable among us, they have a very different, positive reaction.

At NLADA, part of our collective vision is for everyone to understand how civil legal aid and public defense make society better. We are working to build bridges across sectors including educating nonprofit leaders to understand that advocates in the legal community who are on the frontline of justice every day share many of their social objectives, and that partnering with NLADA can maximize and leverage scarce resources. For example, it can be helpful for nonprofits that focus on homelessness to know that civil legal aid advocates often have the ability to leverage the law to keep people in their homes. If healthy communities or access to medical treatment is a nonprofit’s focus then it is worth knowing that Medical Legal Partnerships (MLPs), which are collaborations between attorneys and physicians and other healthcare professionals, are demonstrating that sometimes, the right prescription for a medical condition is a legal one. In other words, it often takes legal skills to get a landlord or employer, for example, to address issues that may have created or exacerbated a health problem. For those focused on issues of racial, gender or ethnic equality, it can be useful to know how public defense leaders and practitioners are addressing inequity in juvenile and criminal justice systems or how they are working to dismantle what is often called the “school to prison pipeline”.

Thus, in addition to supporting our work through organizational and professional development, the ability to reach the Center’s broad nonprofit constituency would provide new, invaluable opportunities to introduce NLADA’s national community of advocates to nonprofit leaders in many different disciplines. Indeed, the selection process itself already is opening up dialogues that have the potential to lead to more expansive collaborations as we work to expand justice, opportunity and equality. If that happens, we have all already won!

Share This Page: