Wright State students gain leadership skills as fellows at Nonprofit Leadership Institute in Yellow Springs

They studied the inner workings of nonprofits, assisted seniors, painted properties, helped out at a therapeutic equestrian facility, tended an arboretum of native trees and managed invasive plants.

It was all part of the Nonprofit Leadership Institute in Yellow Springs on May 20-24 attended by four Wright State University students and one recent graduate.

“When you give people a chance to be involved, they will have a connection,” said Yabome Kanu, who is majoring in urban affairs and nonprofit administration and one of the students who received a fellowship to participate in the institute.

The others were Dorothy Gandhi, who is also majoring in urban affairs and nonprofit administration; DaJisha Hubbard, who is working on her master’s in public administration; and Sophia Justice, who is majoring in political science and nonprofit administration. Emma Peifer-Burns, who earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies in 2017, was also awarded a fellowship.

Justice and Kanu are members of the Wright State Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

The institute is hosted by the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, a public charitable foundation established to benefit the community of Yellow Springs and Miami Township. Graduates must complete 30 hours of collaborative and project-oriented instruction. Topics included nonprofit structure and organization, work practices and collaboration, volunteer management, marketing, development and grant writing, boards and trustees, strategic planning, financials and budgets, and grants review.

Fellows also interact with nonprofit executive directors and other representatives. And they must complete hands-on work experience.

During the institute, participants visited several nonprofits, learning about how they work, the challenges they face and their benefit to local communities. They tended an arboretum of native trees with the Yellow Springs Tree Committee; assisted staff at the Yellow Springs Senior Center; monitored bluebird populations and worked with plant management at Agraria, a regenerative farm owned by Community Solutions; painted and tended properties for Home Inc.; managed invasive plants for the Tecumseh Land Trust; and lent a hand at The Riding Centre, a therapeutic equestrian facility.

The Nonprofit Leadership Institute is funded by an endowment that focuses on engaging students with nonprofits. The Yellow Springs Community Foundation is exploring opportunities to expand the institute to reach current and future community leaders and those interested in nonprofit work in other Ohio communities.

Peifer-Burns said she wanted to “get more involved as a member of the community” and “have a stronger operational understanding” of nonprofits.

Hubbard found that the institute made her think more about the “why” — why nonprofits perform services that benefit communities and why she wants to be a part of that.

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