WCC and Washtenaw County complete inaugural training program for local nonprofit leaders

Washtenaw Community College recently completed a Washtenaw County-funded program providing 32 nonprofit leaders with customized workshops designed to help improve their organizations' capacity and impact.

The initiative, known as the Non-Profit Agency Training Program, began in June. Participants attended 12 sessions on topics such as human resources, finance management, and organizational development.

Akintunde Oluwadare, community engagement and program manager at the Washtenaw County Racial Equity Office, says the county wanted to assist WCC in providing a nonprofit management certificate to participants while also focusing on sustainability.

"[The partnership gives] participants the concrete skill set to continue to build capacity in their own nonprofits," Oluwadare says. "We wanted participants to not only get the information they needed from the workshops but also be able to continue to utilize those resources after the program ended."

Brandon Tucker, WCC's interim vice president of instruction, adds that WCC staff wanted to develop a "safe space" for participants to gain insight from local nonprofit leaders and others in related fields.

"We were intentionally getting people who understood nonprofits because we wanted realistic situations to be discussed," Tucker says. "We wanted participants to feel safe about being vulnerable in the space and ask important questions on the competencies they need to understand."

In addition to developing a comfortable environment for participants, Oluwadare also says that the program was intentionally designed to steer them away from competition and towards collaboration. Participants were encouraged not only to take advantage of the resources provided by WCC and the county, but also to utilize one another as resources.

"I sat in on those classes, and was able to hear those conversations that they had where people met outside of the program to compare and contrast different methods and models and learn from one another," Oluwadare says. "People shared a physical space but also strengths and weaknesses."

The program had its final session on Nov. 17, but Oluwadare says the cohort still "meets and collaborates regularly" with the Center for Equitable Family and Community Wellbeing at the University of Michigan. Tucker also says that there are "ongoing discussions" at WCC about offering the program again in the future.

"We tried to be very intentional with having the participants be a part of the conversation and share their own experiences," Tucker says. "The folks at the county really see the value in this."

More information on the program is available here.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of WCC.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.