Nonprofit, Diversity Institutes to Address Community Needs

CSM Establishes Institutes as Collaborative Opportunities

The College of Southern Maryland announces the formation of two community institutes to address critical individual and community needs within the region. As collaborative efforts bringing together various agencies and individuals and with funding provided by the Charles County Commissioners, the college will coordinate the efforts of the newly formed Diversity Institute at the College of Southern Maryland as well as the Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland.

 “Throughout its history, CSM has worked to ensure the vitality of Southern Maryland, to enhance the lives of those we serve and to meet the diverse needs of our students and the community. We are very excited to be able to coordinate these two initiatives,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “The Diversity Institute will address pressing social issues that are facing Charles County and will model how a community can address diversity issue in a productive manner while the Nonprofit Institute will now be able to more fully address the critical needs of nonprofits. This institute will work with each Charles County nonprofit organization to help each develop its management, leadership and fundraising skills.”

The Charles County Commissioners’ approval of the college’s request to fund  $95,935 for the community institutes will provide for part-time positions for the institutes to coordinate daily operations as well as the ability for nonprofits to attend training sessions at no cost.

 “Without the funding approved by the Charles County Commissioners the college would be unable to move forward with these two new community institutes,” Gottfried said. “Their support demonstrates their commitment to the citizens of Charles County, to promote the cultural diversity and multicultural understanding of our community and to improve the viability of our nonprofit organizations so that they are able to effectively serve their clients.”

“The Commissioners strongly support CSM in creating nonprofit and diversity institutes.  We are pleased to be able to provide funding for these initiatives, which will benefit the community on many levels.  We are hopeful that these institutes will translate into models for public engagement and addressing community needs in a productive manner,” said Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly.

            The Diversity Institute will be housed at the La Plata Campus under the college’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, and will reflect an open, supportive and welcoming environment that creates a sense of belonging among all within our community, according to Makeba Clay, executive director of Institutional Equity and Diversity Office at CSM. Clay will provide the oversight and direction and will work with a part-time coordinator to implement the daily operations of the Institute. As with CSM’s other programs, a Community Advisory Council will be established from stakeholders and key strategic partners to provide insight.

“We envision this as an opportunity to build on the synergy that we have already created at the college around issues that intersect identity, social justice and cultural understanding, and really feel that putting a program like this in the community will give us an opportunity to engage our citizens around very important issues,” Clay said. “In the first year we will be working on a campaign to let people know that this program exists, and we will have a number of featured programs that people will be able to participate in, such as trainings and community forums. We are also looking at ways to be creative in thinking about diversity in the creative arts realm, so we will be looking to our community partners to think about diversity in the context of different types of arts.”

            Clay added that the Diversity Institute’s specific goals will include increasing understanding and mutual respect in the community, bringing diverse groups together, working to develop support systems of inclusion, and providing service and leadership opportunities to help reduce conflict and build communities. Program areas will include training and certification; community engagement through public forums, lectures and other sustained dialogues; conflict resolution; youth leadership and social justice, and research and policy development.

            With the growing importance of the nonprofit community, particularly in light of the economic environment, Gottfried said that the Nonprofit Institute at CSM has been functioning for two years on a limited basis with the support of the three United Ways in Southern Maryland.

Despite no funding, the institute has conducted bimonthly breakfast meetings, training workshops, an annual conference, a listserv and networking opportunities for more than 50 nonprofits. With the county’s funding, the Nonprofit Institute at CSM will be more effective and be able to increase its capacity to serve nonprofit employees and volunteers, Gottfried said.

“The Nonprofit Institute will work directly with each Charles County nonprofit organization to determine its unique needs to expand its capacity to serve the public. This may involve training, pairing with community professionals to assist in specific functions, and advice on how to marshal resources, streamline operations, and market itself,” Gottfried said. “We will work to foster dialogue and networking among the nonprofits and we will work together to address the most pressing social serve needs of Charles County’s residents. The institute will also develop a list of community professionals who can provide pro bono assistance. They are out there,” Gottfried remarked, “but have not been tapped to assist.”

The Nonprofit Institute will be coordinated from the La Plata Campus, with a part-time coordinator who will assess and develop training for Charles County nonprofit organizations as well as develop noncredit certificate programs in such areas as nonprofit management, leadership and advancement. Planning is underway for the next annual Nonprofit Conference at the La Plata Campus for March 8, 2013.

            For information on the Diversity and Nonprofit Institutes at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/CommunityOutreach. To view remarks on these initiatives, visit http://youtu.be/I6fuluzRCUQ .

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