Category Archives: Education

Tools Your Board of Directors Need to be Effective

Every nonprofit organization and school has a Board of Directors that is meant to help govern the organization. There are many companies, books, and webinars that solely focus on supporting Board of Directors. Over the years, we have found and developed some key tools that are easy to apply to help organization and their Boards govern more effectively.

Board of DirectorsWhile some of these Board tools might seem standard, we still find that these are missing and/or have not been well developed. We could write a blog post about each of these tools (and maybe we will!). This is a quick overview of the value and purpose of each tool to help your organization think about how you might integrate them into your Board of Directors.

8 Tools to Strengthen Your Board of Directors

  1. Bylaws: This is a legal document and also a roadmap for actions that the organization can take. While there are plenty of bylaw templates online, your organization should customize the bylaws. Some basic items to include in bylaws include: number of board members, how board members are selected, board meetings, committees, voting procedures, conflicts of interest, etc. We recommend that organizations annually review their bylaws and make sure that they are clear and provide good instruction to guide the Board of Directors.
  2. Board Manual or Handbook: The Board handbook is the “toolbox” for Board members that provides more detail than the bylaws. This is a great resource to review during new Board member orientation. Some of the key elements that we look for and include in Board Handbooks are: Organization Overview, Contact Information, Board Meetings, Finances and Fundraising, Governance, Committees, Board Policies, and Board Resources.
  3. Board Member Job Description: The last thing that an Executive Director or Board President wants to hear from a Board member is, “I didn’t know I was joining the Board to do ______.” One of the most prominent issues that we come across in working with Board of Directors is a lack of clear expectations for the Board of Directors. A Board Member Job Description is exactly as it sounds and similar to an employee job description. It clearly articulates what is expected of the Board member, such as meeting attendance, committee involvement, other organization involvement (e.g, attendance at certain events), a “give or get” policy (related to fundraising), and member terms. This information should all be communicated during the recruitment process, so that when the Board member is signing the form there are no surprises and everyone is in agreement about expectations.
  4. Board Self-Assessment: In healthy organizations, there are ongoing performance reviews and assessments to check-in on how well the organization and its employees are functioning. The Board Self-Assessment is a good exercise for the Board to reflect on how well the Board is functioning against some key best practices. This could be a good practice to complete with
    a 3-year strategic plan. We have developed a 3-page Board self-assessment tool, and there are many online. Indiana Youth Institute has a self-assessment tool online here. The Boys and Girls Club of America developed A Framework for Continuous Improvement of Nonprofit Board Effectiveness that could also be used as a self-assessment.
  5. 1:1 Individual Board Member Check In: One strategy to engage current Board members is to schedule individual annual meetings with each Board member and the Executive Director and Board President/ Vice President. These individual check-in meetings provide a great opportunity to review the expectations of being a Board member, celebrate the successes and engagement of the last year and follow-up on any concerns. It is also a great time for the Board member to affirm their commitment for the coming year, such as financial pledge, leadership and/or committee roles and any connections to make.
  6. Board Meeting Calendar and Key Decisions Meeting Calendar: This is a “two-fer”. Yes, it may seem simple to state that a Board tool is a meeting calendar/ schedule, but you would be surprised by how many organizations do not have a clear meeting schedule and then struggle with attendance. We suggest sending out the Board meeting calendar for the year to all Board members and including any additional important dates (e.g., annual member meeting, required fundraising event, etc.). In addition, in order to help drive strategic decisions at the Board meeting we suggest developing a “key decision meeting calendar”. Every organization has some key decisions that the Board will need to vote on and/or participate in, so it is helpful to put those on the calendar, such as annual budget review, program evaluation reports, and strategic plans (planning, check-in or updates).
  7. Board Member Recruitment Process: While the bylaws should outline at a high-level the process to approve new Board members a more detailed recruitment plan is helpful to standardize the process. We often work with many organizations who struggle with small Board of Directors and are wanting to recruit more Board members but lack a clear understanding of the type of Board member that would be a good fit and a process to recruit. We have developed several Board recruitment tools: a board composition assessment (what are your current “assets” and “strengths” on the Board and then your “gaps”); a nomination form that Board members can submit when they want to recommend a candidate; a new member application to gather some key information from prospects; and interview questions that Board members use when meeting with a prospective member.
  8. Communication Flowchart: The last thing that an organization wants is to have one of their board members approached by a volunteer or staff member making a request, and the board member not know the procedure for how certain decisions are made. A communication flowchart explains how decisions are made within the organization and the role of the Board of Directors and its Committees.

How well is your Board functioning? Would any of these help improve the effectiveness of your Board? Transform Consulting Group would love to work with your organization to identify opportunities to strengthen your Board and ultimately the impact of your organization. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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New Resource for College and Career Readiness Programs

Are you a school or a program serving youth that has a goal to get more students to and through post-secondary education?  At Transform Consulting Group, we are passionate about college and career readiness programs and are always on the lookout for resources to make life easier.

The Better Make Room initiative offers free support to students, parents, and school counselors on anything college related, and they launched a free texting service called UP NEXT. The catch? Once enrolled, the individual will receive important information and timely reminders about applying for college, financial aid, and even setting up student loans all via text message.  

With 63% of students texting on a daily basis, mobile communicating is a great way to reach people. Research suggests texting information will actually increase students’ college enrollment and persistence, but only if they sign up.

Schools or youth serving organizations can check out this toolkit for tips on launching your own campaign and incorporating the content into your program.

As high school seniors are making decisions about college and applying for financial aid and post-secondary students are managing their student loans, UP NEXT is a timely resource to help our students stay on the pathway of post-secondary success.

At Transform Consulting Group, we work with college and career ready programs and education partners to help get more students to enroll in education beyond high school and complete their credential or degree.  We help our clients access the latest resources and research to implement in their programming to accomplish their objectives. Contact us today to learn more and see how we can help!

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America’s College Promise Initiative

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This year, President Obama has unveiled a program to help combat the rising college costs for students across the nation, America’s College Promise Initiative. America’s College Promise Initiative would allow responsible students to go to a community college for two-years, free of charge.

It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree. The 1,100 community colleges across the nation give an affordable education at convenient locations for students, making it easier to go to college.

America’s College Promise Initiative will create federal-state partnerships to give students access to a college education. Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the cost of tuition, while state funds are expected to pay the remaining one-quarter cost. If every state participates, approximately 9 million students would benefit from this plan.

To participate in the initiative, students will have to complete the following requirements:

  • Attend community college at least half-time
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA, while making progress towards completing a degree

Participating community colleges must offer credits that can be transferred to a four-year university or college, giving students the ability to complete a four-year degree; or offer occupational training programs with high graduation rates. The occupational training programs must lead to high demand degrees and certificates.

Transform Consulting Group applauds programs that give students a chance to further their education. Transform Consulting Group has experience helping organizations across the state prepare students for success in college and beyond. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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Grant Opportunity with KaBOOM! Playground

kaboom -playground-5-8-10 webChildhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980 and stayed the same for the past ten years. The average child spends nearly 75 hours a week immersed in various forms of media. With fewer children playing outside and a rise of childhood obesity, many organizations are taking steps to change this trajectory.

KaBOOM! is working to partner with communities to make active play space available for youth across the country. Through the development of playgrounds, KABOOM! is working to bring the importance of play to the forefront. KaBOOM! offers a number of grant opportunities for organizations wishing to begin or modify a playground project. KABOOM has three grant categories:

  1. Build it with KaBOOM! Grants: Provides planning grants to design your playground and funding to then transform the space. The grantee will be provided with a Project Manager, funds, resources and tools to assist community officials in designing and building a playground that is unique to the community.
  2. Build it Yourself Grants: Offers $15,000 grants to help community organizations purchase playground equipment and complete the assembling process on their own with remote assistance from KaBOOM!.
  3. Creative Play Grants: Enhances existing play spaces through creativity, communication and collaboration in play.

Each KaBOOM! grant has a set of requirements that must be met before the applicant can apply. For further information on grant requirements, review the grant application guide. For information on additional playground grants, check out these resources that KaBOOM! highlights on their website.

Transform Consulting Group assists organizations with assessing their current funding and identifying new revenue opportunities. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation!

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New Report on the Status of Young Children in Indiana

Indiana’s Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) has submitted its 2015 report of findings to Governor Mike Pence and the state’s Legislative Council. As previously discussed (in this blog post), ELAC was created in the 2013 legislative session with a mandate to provide a comprehensive progress report by June 30th of each year.

ELAC’s vision focuses on ensuring that children ages birth to 8 years and their families have access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs that keep children healthy, safe and learning.

The report includes a Needs Assessment section where the following key items are noted:

  • Indiana has approximately 500,000 children five years old and younger;
  • Nearly half (47%) of Hoosier families with children ages 0-5 are in poverty;
  • The majority (66%) of Indiana’s families are working and require child care;
  • Only 11% of Hoosier children are enrolled in high-quality, program-based care;
  • For a family of three living in poverty, having one child in quality care would cost more than a third of their annual income; and
  • The 2020 projected demand for early childhood education teachers outpaces the current supply.

The report also includes the following important information: 2014 Accomplishments, Recommendations, and an Appendix. In the Appendix, there are several tables with detailed demographic information at the county level.

Transform Consulting Group was honored to partner with ELAC in helping them gather the information and write the annual report.

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Fighting the Summer “Learning Loss”

kids-learningFor many children, summer is a time of fun and a break from school. However, summer can also lead to “learning loss” for many students. Studies show students score lower on standardized tests after summer than they do before. It is also reported that students lose approximately two months in math computational skills over summer vacation. Several organizations and schools are working to prevent summer learning loss by taking advantage of the summer months to extend students’ learning and ensure that they start school ready to learn! By participating in unique summer learning programs, students develop new skills, explore interests and get hands-on experience.

When designing summer programing, organizations should consider and address many issues, but the five most important are listed below:

  1. What: What will the summer program consist of? Programs vary from creative-writing programs to language-immersion classes; what is your organization passionate about and how can this learning opportunity show that?
  2. Where: Where will this summer learning program occur? If it’s a program that teaches students about microbiology, have it in a biology lab! If it is a program teaching students about creative writing, perhaps a computer lab or library would be most beneficial.
  3. Why: Why should students and parents pick your summer learning program versus another? Be sure to establish the added benefits that your program offers and highlight these in all marketing materials.
  4. Who: Who will be the target audience for your summer learning program? By picking an age group, it will be easier to establish a beneficial curriculum and structure your program. For example, a program for elementary students should look very different than for high school students.
  5. How: Finally, how will this summer learning program be implemented? This is the “nuts and bolts,” of the summer learning program. What is the duration of the program? Who are the staff and what training do they need? What are the recruitment efforts? Who are community partners to help deliver the program?

Today, summer programs are truly taking advantage of the coveted summer months to build in learning through play. As a result, more and more students are able to have a fun summer through various enrichment experiences that help them explore their interests and ensure that they are on track to start the school year ready to learn.

If your organization is looking to implement or modify your summer learning program, contact Transform Consulting Group today. We can help you assess your current program, review the latest research, and design or retool your summer program.

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Grant Funding Opportunity with David and Lucile Packard Foundation

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The David and Lucile Packard Foundation focuses on “improving the lives of children, enabling the creative pursuit of science, advancing reproductive health, and conserving and restoring the earth’s natural systems.” Since 1964 the Foundation has helped programs and people across the nation through four program areas:

  1. Conservation and Science
  2. Population and Reproductive Health
  3. Children, Families and Community
  4. Local Grant-making

One of the programs, the Children, Families and Community Program awards grants to organizations that support the following three causes:

  1. Early Learning Provides support to adults caring for children through investing in training for caregivers and educators and providing resources to parents and families.
  2. Children’s Health: Funds state-based child advocacy programs, national organizations and, at times, local organizations that demonstrate best practices in improving child and parent health outcomes.
  3. After-school and Summer Enrichment:Supports high-quality after-school and summer enrichment programs.

It is the goal of the Children, Families and Community Program to improve outcomes for children across the United States and ensure that every child gets a strong start in life.

Organizations eligible to apply for grants supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation vary but must meet one of the three cause areas. Applications are accepted at different time periods throughout the year. Visit their grants database to get an idea of previous recipients who have been funded. Available grants range from $15,000-$200,000+ in award amounts.

Transform Consulting Group assists organizations to both increase and diversify their funding to support their mission. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation!

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Federal Program Spotlight: Farm to School

This blog is part of a series highlighting federal programs that support children, families and communities.

Just-for-Kids Veggie-Garden-Box gardeningThe United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program was created with the purpose of assisting eligible programs in creating a farm to school program to improve access to fresh, local food in schools. Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the Farm to School Grant Program not only promotes the use of farm fresh foods, but also provides education and awareness about healthy eating for children and educators.

There are four grant categories for which an organization can apply:

  1. Support Service Grants: Intended for local and state agencies, agricultural producers, Indian tribal organizations and other non-profit entities (aka, the “intermediaries”) to further develop and provide support for the Farm to School programs.
  2. Implementation Grants: For schools to help further develop existing Farm to School programs.
  3. Planning Grants: For schools who are getting started to develop and structure their Farm to School Program.
  4. Training Grants: Intended for local and state agencies, agricultural producers, Indiana tribal organizations and other non-profit entities to help in training individuals in technical assistance and the strengthening of local food systems.

Implementation and support service awards range from $65,000 – $100,000; Planning awards range from $20,000 – $45,000; and training awards range from $15,000 – $50,000. Matching funds of 25% are required for all four grant types.

The Farm to School program has already reported success. In the 2011-2012 school year, the Farm to School program helped approximately 40,328 schools, totaling 23,513,237 children across the nation. In Indiana, 655 schools (representing 402,732 children) participated in the Farm to School program in the 2011-2012 school year.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation reported positive reactions from children, stating that: “A local farmer comes during Farm to School Month in October for a meet your farmer day. The kids were so excited about his visit we double our vegetables sales those days and the days that follow!”

While the FY 2016 grant application deadline has already passed, information about the next grant round can be found on their website or by signing up for the Farm to School Newsletter.

Transform Consulting Group applauds programs encouraging healthy and positive child development as well as school-community partnership. For more information about our program development and grant writing services, contact us today!

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Jump IN to Hoosier Health

jumpinChildhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. To help combat these alarming statistics, many organizations, companies, families, and individuals are sounding the alarm for healthier options and public policy changes. Jump IN for Healthy Kids, formed by a coalition of Central Indiana community and business leaders, has one ambitious goal in mind: to have a 12% reduction in childhood obesity rate by 2025.

To accomplish this goal, Jump IN has three main strategies to help empower children and their families:

  1. Increasing access to healthier foods, and encouraging consumption
  2. Increasing physical activity
  3. Embracing healthy habits

These three strategies are spread across eight focus areas, which work together to better a child’s health and welfare:

  • Clinician Training: training physicians;
  • Communication and Public Awareness: educating the community;
  • Community-Based Pilots: providing health resources;
  • Data and Analytics: measuring and collecting data;
  • Employer Wellness: partnering with employers;
  • Nutrition: increasing access to health foods;
  • Physical Activity: connecting with community organizations and schools;
  • Public Policy: advocating policy changes.

Jump IN wants to give families and children accessible opportunities, such as incorporating activity into the work or school day, to make healthy choices in healthy environments. Through exciting community initiatives, such as partnering with early childhood education programs to provide meaningful physical activity for preschoolers, Jump IN hopes to change the course of childhood obesity in Central Indiana.

Jump IN has looked to other community initiatives across the nation, such as the state of Mississippi, which has cut the percentage of elementary school students who were classified as overweight or obese from 43 percent to 37.7 percent in only six years. Jump IN looks to programs like this to determine successful initiatives, and advocates for them here in Indiana, such as nutrition standards and health education. Jump IN can be visited online for more information and opportunities, and can be followed on Facebook or Twitter

Transform Consulting Group applauds the leadership of JumpIN to make a positive difference for children and families in Central Indiana.

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Online Toolkit for Early Childhood Donors

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 3.40.14 PMThe Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania has released web-based version of Invest in a Strong Start: An Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors. For individuals and organizations interested in supporting early childhood education, the toolkit provides key facts, strategies for investment, high impact opportunities and key partners you should know.

As an extension of an ongoing partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the toolkit was created by a team that reviewed over 50 pieces of major research reports and policy analyses, collaborated with national networks, and interviewed experts and leaders in the early childhood field.

The expanded and updated toolkit includes the following components:

  • Funder Briefs: Background information and resources of early childhood topics such as strong starts for young children and harmful chemical exposure.
  • Blog Interviews: Interviews with field experts
  • Strategies for Investing: Information for donors regarding stakeholders and important background information.
  • Return on Investment Profile: Information on what programs to support, the benefits and how to invest.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest research to inform its clients and align services to “what works”. For more information on the latest research in your industry, contact us today.

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