Every nonprofit desires a strong public reputation.
One recipe for increasing an organization’s civic stature is to:
- identify your community’s long-term, well-funded priority, and then
- help it be successful while staying true to your mission.
The result is that the organization:
- does what it does best
- builds strong alliances with other organizations, businesses, and agencies
- enjoys endorsements from community leaders as an example to be followed
In most communities this is a near-impossible task because there are no long-term, well-funded priorities. The priorities change with each new administration or budget cycle.
Not so in Kalamazoo County. We share a common vision – a sustainable culture of learning at home, in school, at work and throughout the community. Its pillars are the Kalamazoo Promise and The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, but its active participants populate a very long list. And, make no mistake, the effort is well funded, and we’re in it for the long haul.
Recent recognition from the Lumina Foundation and Dan Cardinali, president of Communities in Schools, Inc., indicates that we’re moving in a good direction. Cardinali writes:
What's tremendously encouraging to me is the way that the entire community is coming together in support of the public schools. In Kalamazoo, public education is everyone's business. The silos that separate schools, businesses and civic organizations are coming down as everyone accepts a shared responsibility to prepare young people for a successful, productive life. In other words, Kalamazoo is re-forming its sense of community, not just reforming its schools. (read full post)
Are we on the right path? Yes…for now. But there’s a long way to go and the path twists and turns. And, it has no end. We just need to keep moving forward.
Will you and your organization be satisfied walking the sidelines or being an armchair quarterback to this adventure? I hope not. Get in the game! Claim the vision as your own, and offer your best. The least it will do is up your rep.
P.S. Kalamazoo is among 20 communities selected by the Lumina Foundation for project to boost college success (read article).