In less than four years, Cleveland-based Community Care Network (CCN), a provider of behavioral health services and management solutions in Northeast Ohio, has helped more than 200 leaders or potential leaders of faith- and community-based organizations with its Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training. The program provides a hands-on, concentrated program to help organizations build their efforts from the ground up through a series of local group and individualized sessions.
“Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training gives us a way to reach out to leaders in our community and to help their visions become a reality,” said George Pelletier, coordinator of the program. “Our program extends expert advice and assistance to those organizations that otherwise may have none.”
CCN began meeting with the director of the Ohio governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives about starting a local training program in 2004. The office was scouting the state for organizations with a successful history of supporting small nonprofits to serve as regional intermediaries. After finding CCN, the office secured a federal Compassion Capital grant for the faith-based initiative.
CCN had experience with faith-based services through several programs, including the Case Rate Pilot Project, a neighborhood-based initiative in which Cleveland Christian Home, a founding member and partner under CCN's administrative umbrella, had been the lead agency. The program allowed the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Department of Children and Family Services to outsource its child custody function to private providers for more efficient operation. Through this initiative, Cleveland Christian Home successfully increased the reunification rate of children removed from their families from 44 to 87% between 2001 and 2005.
The goal of CCN's program is to provide direct technical assistance, training, and mentoring to organizations to help them develop the capacity to receive funds and provide better services to at-risk populations. Small organizations learn to improve their ability to compete for grants and manage funds.
Unlike most capacity-building providers, CCN offers its training free of charge, thanks to a generous grant from the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In fact, because of the program's success, state and federal leaders recently extended the grant for an additional two years.
“Our program extends expert advice and assistance to those organizations that otherwise may have none.” —George Pelletier
CCN offers training in the capacity-related areas described below. Each training component is six-hours long (one training day).
“Establishing Your Organization” takes participants through 12 essential steps to consider in establishing a new organization. Participants learn to focus their mission, the process of achieving 501(c)3 status, and the keys to success.
“Building Collaborations” introduces organizations to the concept and benefits of nonprofit collaboration to improve and sustain existing services. Participants learn how to create, manage, and sustain collaboration, and they learn techniques and receive sample templates for drafting a memorandum of understanding.
“Technology in a Non-Profit” teaches participants to plan for technology, including what to consider in purchasing equipment and how to use cost-cutting resources.
“Internal Fiscal Controls” educates participants on the significance of internal controls and ways that they can ensure financial stability.
“Strategic Planning” provides assistance with when and how to develop a strategic plan. Participants explore the ten-step strategic-planning process and learn how to apply this process to their organizations.
“Fiscal Management” helps participants learn the basics of financial management and how to keep clear and accurate records while growing their faith-based or community organization. Key learning points include building financial management systems, cash-flow case studies, and financial responsibility and accountability.
“Board Development” provides a background on the roles of board members and officers on a nonprofit board, the board's legal responsibilities, and the stages of board development, as well as how that applies to each participant's organization.
“Outcome Management” offers advice for organizing, analyzing, and accessing both customer and agency data to effectively report individual outcomes.
“Human Resources & Volunteer Management” provides participants the opportunity to learn the basics of human resource management for nonprofits. The topics addressed in this session are basic employment law, how to recruit and retain employees, and general guidelines for keeping your best volunteers.
“Fund Development” teaches effective fund-raising techniques and how to be a successful proposal writer—two critical skills for any nonprofit administrator.
“Grant Writing” is a follow-up to the general Fund Development session, providing participants with the basic tools for proposal development. Topics covered include researching and evaluating prospects, compiling important organizational documents, budgeting, and writing critical proposal components.
In addition, CCN is developing specialty courses that will allow organizations to more effectively compete for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars—$1.5 billion of which go unused in Ohio each year.
Besides formal training, CCN offers agency mentoring, technical assistance, and subawards for capacity-building projects. CCN's comprehensive training program is the only one of its kind in Northeast Ohio.
Before CCN's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training program, the Freedom House for Women in Akron, Ohio, was a fledgling organization. It had a great vision of helping women and families with addiction issues but lacked the experience on the business side to grow, prosper, and receive proper support. In fact, before undergoing the training program, Freedom House had no funding or location.
Looking to take her young nonprofit to the next level, Freedom House Executive Director Eva Moore participated in numerous CCN workshops, including Fiscal Management, Grant Writing, and Board Development, as well as the technical assistance program. Moore also participated in a customized assessment of Freedom House, through which she learned about potential areas of growth and ways she could achieve that growth within her organization.
As a result of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training, Freedom House has learned to take advantage of local partnerships. The organization is working with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority to provide services to AMHA clients served with eviction notices due to chemical dependency issues, as well as the Akron Adult Probation Department to help women referred for treatment. Freedom House clients can receive their GED through the University of Akron's accredited program.
“The Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training was extremely positive. It really made the difference in the growth of this organization,” said Moore. “It helped us to leverage partnerships, secure grants, utilize new technology, balance budgets, and develop our board.”
In starting Freedom House four years ago, Moore knew she wanted to help women with addiction issues become more self-sufficient, transitioning smoothly from addiction to recovery. She just didn't fully realize how to take that vision and turn it into reality. Thanks to CCN's training, in just one year Moore saw her dreams for Freedom House come to fruition. Not only did the organization secure a location and funding, but it is fulfilling its mission of serving local women and families, helping them to lead more normal, productive lives (see sidebar).
CCN's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training program is not standard leadership training. The instructors are not consultants or professional trainers but experienced professionals in the field. The program extends beyond the classroom with ongoing support and technical assistance. Organizational networks of current and former trainees are in the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan areas.
“We are proud of the work that our trainees are doing to improve our communities and enhance the overall quality of life for society's most underserved populations,” said Pelletier. “We hope to continue to support and grow organizations like Freedom House with our training well into the future.”
David Lundeen is CEO of Community Care Network in Cleveland, Ohio.
For more information on CCN, visit http://www.ccnworks.org.
Freedom House takes a multi-prong approach to healing women, drawing on the support and partnerships of outside organizations. Freedom House is 12-Step oriented, and all clients must attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Freedom House's James Harvey, MSW, LSW, LICDC, explains that these programs “are essential in the recovery process, helping our clients work on their basic coping skills and establish a reliable sober support network.”
Freedom House provides group counseling on-site. Women whose needs are not being met in a group setting have access to the Minority Behavior Health Group in Akron to resolve mental health issues. Freedom House also strives to empower its clients with courses in legal education, including family law, bankruptcy, domestic violence, and criminal law and divorce; anger and stress management; financial fitness; medical education; and drug and alcohol education.
Freedom House has nine women and their families enrolled in its programs. By the end of the year, the organization would like to offer a full range of services to a dozen or more women and their families. In the next few years, Moore hopes to serve even more women, as well as open a second facility to provide residential services to the homeless.