WMU News

WMU aids faith- and community-based organizations

Dec. 9, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's Center for Community Asset Building has joined forces with a local grassroots organization in a $1.9 million effort to assist and train non-profit groups in six West Michigan counties.

CCAB is working with the newly created Southwest Michigan Faith and Community-Based Training Institute--an outgrowth of Kalamazoo's Northside Ministerial Alliance--to help small faith- and community-based organizations improve their business acumen, leadership capacity and overall effectiveness.

"Part of the training includes helping organizations understand the context in which they are working and how competitive it is," says Sharon Anderson, who directs CCAB and helped secure the grant from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services' Compassion Capital Fund.

The institute, which will begin offering workshops in early 2003, is likely to draw administrative leaders from a wide variety of fledgling, non-United Way-supported organizations in Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, St. Joseph, Cass and Van Buren counties.

From youth-serving organizations to shelters and halfway houses, organizations that provide human services are "hungry for this type of training," says Anderson. She notes that when the formal grant announcement was made at an October news conference, 350 leaders from more than 90 non-profits showed up to learn how they could benefit. Afterward, the phones at CCAB and the Training Institute's offices rang nonstop.

"Faith- and community-based organizations are asking for help," she says of the small, volunteer-driven groups, often staffed by five or fewer people. "They have questions about making their organizations structurally sound, about writing proposals, getting 501(c)3 status, developing and marketing their missions and visions, developing sustainable programs, and more."

CCAB, already working on several fronts to strengthen human service organizations in communities like Battle Creek and Benton Harbor, will help develop the Training Institute's curriculum and identify WMU faculty members who can help lead classes.

Other partners in the project are Organizational Development Solutions, G.A.C. Consulting Services, Washington Heights Community Ministries in Calhoun County, Benton Harbor Street Ministries, CHANGE, Third Reformed Church and New Genesis Inc.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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