Nonprofit Leadership Academy

  

NOW ACCEPTION APPLICATIONS FOR THE 4TH CLASS OF
THE NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

Applications are due by May 16, 2018

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (Blue Cross NC Foundation) invites applications to the fourth class of the Nonprofit Leadership Academy, an intensive 11-month learning lab to help nonprofits develop the leadership, culture and strategy to be more adaptive organizations with stronger board and staff partnerships doing the right work that matters most for delivering impact in a changing context.

The program requires a high level of commitment.  Organizations participate as a team of two board members and two staff that are ready and willing to change and create new organizational habits.  In return, each team receives focused resources and support to help move forward on key challenges and opportunities.

The Academy is led by Blue Cross NC Foundation Staff, working in tandem with noted nonprofit experts who serve as coaches and work directly with the program participants throughout the experience. 

Program Objectives 

Today’s nonprofits face multiple challenges – from changing demographics and new technologies, to reductions in government funding and growing donor interest in impact, innovation and accountability. These challenges – and opportunities – require that nonprofits align their staff and board into a strong leadership team that intentionally fosters the right culture, and develops the right strategies. 

The Nonprofit Leadership Academy is an experiential learning lab to help leaders access new skills and tools to adapt and deliver impact. The Academy is framed around three themes:

  • Adaptive and shared leadership
  • Aligned and inclusive organizational culture
  • Creative and resourceful strategy

 

 

 

Informational Webinars

NEW

  • Tuesday, April 25 at 3:00 PM  (sign up

ARCHIVED

Two informational webinars were hosted in early March. Click the links below to access the recordings of these sessions. 

Also, feel free to download  the PowerPoint presentation used for webinars.    

Eligibility

The Nonprofit Leadership Academy is open to 16 organizations each year. The ideal candidates are ready to engage in deep learning and are hungry for the opportunity to tackle a significant challenge or opportunity. Eligible organizations must meet the following basic criteria:

  • Operating in North Carolina as a 501(c)(3) organization for at least three years
  • At least three full-time paid staff
  • An annual operating budget of $250,000 or greater

Application is open to all nonprofits in North Carolina; however, recent BCBSNC Foundation grantees will be given priority for acceptance.

Program Objectives

Today’s nonprofits face multiple challenges – from changing demographics and new technologies, to reductions in government funding and growing donor interest in impact, innovation and accountability. These challenges – and opportunities – require that nonprofits align their staff and board into a strong leadership team that intentionally fosters the right culture, and develops the right strategies. 

The Nonprofit Leadership Academy is an experiential learning lab to help leaders access new skills and tools to adapt and deliver impact. The Academy is framed around three themes:

  • Adaptive and shared leadership
  • Aligned and inclusive organizational culture
  • Creative and resourceful strategy

Past participants of the Nonprofit Leadership Academy have reported significant value from their experience. They learned to think bigger and differently, broke old habits and created new ways of working. Boards became more engaged, with a renewed sense of purpose.


“The board is the most engaged I have seen in 15 years. There is an undercurrent of excitement and a new feeling of  ownership, responsibility and accountability.”  

~ participant in the 2015 Nonprofit Leadership Academy


Each participating organization will be required to identify a “big question” – a challenge or opportunity that the organization will focus on throughout the Academy. Examples of past “big questions” include:

  • How do we better align our organizational practices with our core values?
  • Given our organization’s maturation, what do we most need from our board?
  • How do we better communicate who we are to our core constituents?

Several organizations have used their Academy experience to develop a better understanding of who they are and why they do what they do. This understanding is now being turned into new messaging for donors and partners. Multiple organizations helped their board members become more effective fundraisers, and one created a business plan for a new stream of revenue. One organization adapted its systems and culture to make better use of data, while another realized they were significantly understaffed to meet a growing demand for their services and, as a result, designed a new organizational structure.

Program Components and Timeline

The Academy is an integrated set of experiences and resources that begins when organizations are selected (by mid-July, 2017) and continues through the close of the Academy in June of 2018. 

Teamwork: Each participating organization must appoint a team of four people, including the Executive Director and one other management staff member, in addition to two board officers or executive committee members. This team will serve as the organization’s leadership team throughout the Academy and is expected to participate in all elements of the program. Think of this as a leadership pipeline for both board and staff, and set deep intention and expectations with the members of your team. This promises to be an incredible teambuilding and team bonding experience.  

Organizational Assessment: As the first stop on your journey in the Academy, participating organizations will engage all staff and board members in a comprehensive assessment to identify organizational strengths, challenges and opportunities. This assessment has been customized to align with the themes of the Academy and will help the teams identify areas of focus for their organizations.

Coaching: Each organization will be assigned a coach who will support and guide the team through their learning and action. The coaches will meet in-person with each organization’s team in September or early October 2017. During these visits, the coach and team will review the results of the organizational assessment and discuss in greater detail the participating organization’s goals for their Academy experience. The coach will work intensively with the organization throughout the Academy with regular phone calls and at least one additional on-site visit.

Two Residential Retreats: The Academy includes two rigorous residential retreats held at the Graylyn Conference Center in Winston-Salem. These retreats are an opportunity for deep learning in the core concepts of the Academy. All four team members from each organization are expected to fully participate in both retreats, including two overnights at Graylyn for each retreat.

October 16 – 18, 2017: The retreat opens at
4 p.m. on October 16 and closes at 3 p.m. on October 18.

May 8 – 10, 2018: The retreat opens at 4 p.m. on May 8 and closes at 3 p.m. on May 10.

Support and Resources to Tackle a Big Question: The heart of the Academy’s learning lab is resources and support to tackle a “big question.” By the end of the first residential retreat, each organization will be required to identify a “big question” – a challenge or opportunity that the organization will focus on throughout the Academy.

Teams will be asked to apply the learning to the “big question” and coaches will work in-depth with their organizations to develop and implement actions to address the challenge or opportunity. The BCBSNC Foundation will provide a $5,000 grant so organizations can take bold action on their “big question.” Teams will be expected to work on their “big question” throughout the Academy and will share their reflections and learning at the closing retreat in May 2018.

Peer Learning: In addition to the residential retreats, the Academy includes multiple opportunities for additional connections and building social networks, especially among staff and board members in similar roles. 

Expectations

Participating organizations should plan to actively engage and fulfill the following commitments:

  • Dedicate staff and board time to developing and implementing an action plan to address your organization’s “big question.” If your organization has other significant commitments during the Academy, we suggest that you wait to apply until you have the time and energy to fully participate.  

    Time commitments ranged but participants reported spending:

    • ED’s: 15-20 hours per month
    • Staff: 6-10 hours per month
    • Board member: 11-16 hours per month
  • Engage your full staff and full board in the organizational assessment. We ask that each organization achieve a participation rate of no less than 80 percent of the survey population. This is one way to extend the learning beyond the core Academy team.

  • Attend both residential retreats. Please confirm that all four of your designated team members can participate in both retreats including two overnight stays in Winston-Salem (October 16 – 18, 2017 and May 8 – 10, 2018) before submitting your application.

  • Participate and utilize dedicated coaching support. Your coach will meet by phone with your team at least once a month and separately with your executive director at least once a month. The coach will also make two site visits, one at the beginning of the program and one to support your team and board in action. 

  • Participate in peer learning. Your team members are asked to participate in peer learning calls and webinars.

  • Complete all evaluation tools including two surveys, an interview at the mid-point of the program, and a final report at the end.

  • Pay a participation fee of $1,000* as a demonstration of commitment. Early-bird registration was April 15 and qualified for a reduced commitment fee of $750 if selected. The full value of the Academy is estimated at $25,000 per organization. The fee is due once your organization is accepted into the Academy.

Application and Selection Process

Access the application here

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 2017.

Early-bird applications were due by 5:00 p.m. on April 15, 2017 and qualified for a reduced commitment fee.

Selected organizations will be notified by mid-July.

To apply, you will need the following:

  1. Commitments from the two staff and two board members that will dedicate time and demonstrate leadership as your Academy team.

  2. A resolution from your board of directors acknowledging commitment to the expectations for participating in the Nonprofit Leadership Academy (see attachment).

  3. Electronic copies of the following four documents to upload into the online application:
    • 501c3 letter
    • current annual operating budget
    • board of directors list – including board role, contact information, current employer and title 
    • copy of the statement of commitment signed by the Board Chair/President and the Executive Director

  4. Responses to the following questions (the application form allows for no more than 200 words each):
    • Why is this the right time for your organization to participate in the Nonprofit Leadership Academy?
    • What is your organization willing to stop, delay or risk in order to commit the required time and energy to the Academy?
    • From the board perspective, what challenge or opportunity is keeping your board members up at night?
    • From the staff perspective, what challenge or opportunity is keeping your leadership up at night?
    • When you look back over the last two years, what is one change – big or small, positive or negative – you have initiated as an organization? Briefly describe the change and what you learned about the process of change as an organization.
    • What playlist of 3 songs would best describe your last board meeting? Why?
  1. Participate in a brief phone interview with the selection committee:
    • Conversations will be scheduled June 7-14, 2017.
    • We will contact you to schedule the video or conference calls.