Leadership Development

Leadership Development

grow and learn with fellow leaders

Executive Director Learning Circle

United Way of Rhode Island invites executive directors who lead nonprofit organizations with annual budgets under $1 million to apply for our Executive Director Learning Circle.

The Executive Director Learning Circle experience centers on real-time situations facing participants. The issues might include strategy, board engagement, fund development, or a pending operational challenge.  Key to the success of this process is that each organization is of similar size and capacity, and the learning is not just through the facilitator but from one another. 

Feedback from recent participants

Kate Lentz, Director, Rhode Island Center for the Book

"Most nonprofit workshops I have attended present static models of best practices that smaller organizations either have to scale down to meet their organizational needs or do not have the resources to fulfill. Executive Director Learning Circle meets you where you are. Each session was a helpful blend of real-life experience, concrete takeaways, and inspiration. The third Friday of every month became a sacred space where we could share frustrations and successes, find immediate solutions for our real-time problems and glean advice from successful leaders from across our state. 

The-Hate-U-Give-RARI-Program-adjusted

Kristen A. Williams, Ph.D., Executive Director, Riverzedge Arts

Executive directors working at small non-profits often wear many hats! Meeting monthly with Michael Fournier and the incredibly supportive group of peers assembled by United Way gave me the encouragement I needed to take on and resolve difficult issues in ways that best fit the mission of Riverzedge Arts. Each month, we discussed a different facet of non-profit leadership with an expert in the field, providing us opportunities not only to learn, but also to engage with the broader non-profit community. And since everyone in my cohort identified as female, I was extremely grateful that Michael not only made room for, but also encouraged, thoughtful discussions about the ways our roles as executive directors and our personal identities (gender, sex, dis/ability, race, etc.) intersected. At a time when equity and inclusivity are rightly being brought to the fore, Michael and United Way modeled those values in convening and supporting this group. 

Riverzedge Arts

Program details and application process

Executive Director Leader Circle 2018 (2)

Format

Participants meet the third Friday of each month from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m., starting in January. Each session includes competency topics, group discussions, and practical scenario sharing. An in-person or virtual format will depend on public health and United Way guidelines

Executive Director Learning Circle participants gain real-life experience and explore a variety of topics, including: 

  • Strategy development and implementation 
  • Board development and engagement 
  • Staffing and priority alignment 
  • Comprehensive fund development 
  • Risk management and emergency preparedness 

Lead facilitator Michael Fournier

Michael Fournier has provided volunteer consulting to numerous grassroots nonprofits in Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts over the past 6 years, primarily in the areas of capacity building and executive coaching. He previously spent 35 years at the YMCA, serving in senior leadership roles in Manchester, NH, and Providence. 

Commitment and finances

For the duration of the 11-month learning experience, participants must dedicate the third Friday of each month to the program. In addition, there will be the occasion to engage in some minor preparation for an upcoming session. 

There is no cost to participate in this program. Upon completion, each graduate’s organizations receive grants of $2,000 to complete an organizational goal identified at the outset of the program. 

Application process

Applications for 2022 Executive Director Learning Circle opens October 15 and closes November 21 at 11:59 p.m. For more information, please contact Roshni Darnal, director of community of investments at roshni.darnal@unitedwayri.org.

Executive Director Leader Circle 2019 (2)

Nonprofit Innovation Lab

Innovation Accelerator 2021

The Nonprofit Innovation Lab is a selective program from United Way and SEG that offers Rhode Island nonprofits the opportunity to transform innovative ideas into reality, enabling them to create even more social impact as they bring innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to their organizations. The program provides participating Fellows with the knowledge, resources, and networking opportunities that help bring transformative ideas to life.

A culminating, “Shark Tank-like” pitch event in November will award a total of $90,000 in funding, paired with other in-kind services, to support the three most compelling innovation projects.

Throughout the Nonprofit Innovation Lab, each participant is partnered with a custom team of coaches and provided access to hundreds of experts across the United Way and SEG communities. In November, the Fellows who offer the most compelling innovation plans will be invited to pitch for the prize funding.

Application process

The 2021 Nonprofit Innovation Lab online application is now closed.

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Donna Wood lowered her 15 month-old son, Corey, who has severe disabilities, down into his stroller. Wood, Corey, and her older children are all living in a single hotel room in Warwick, R.I. They were evicted from their home in July after the landlord sold the property and are now struggling to avoid homelessness. JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

Family struggles to avoid homelessness

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"'I never thought I'd be in this situation," said Donna Wood, a single working mom. 'But there's nothing in the state that protects anybody in the situation that I'm in [against] homelessness, even with my four children. Even with one who is incredibly disabled.'"

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Thumbnail: Cortney Nicolato of the United Way discusses the proposal for $500 million for affordable housing.

Should R.I. Spend $500M on Housing?

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"Cortney Nicolato… United Way of Rhode Island['s CEO] and one of the coalition members calling for the spending[,] said... the lack of affordable housing is the most critical issue now facing the state... 'We are proposing $500M of [Rhode Island’s American Rescue Plan Act funds] be utilized for the building [and] maintaining [of] affordable housing here in our state.'"

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United Way of R.I. awards $175K in grants

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United Way of Rhode Island has awarded $175K in grants to 12 nonprofit organizations for their work toward creating long-term change in [Providence's] Olneyville neighborhood... The investments were awarded from its Olneyville Community Fund, dedicated to improve services for residents in the neighborhood, enhance public spaces and increase the capacity of community-based organizations."

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UPCOMING EVENTS

United Way’s 95th Annual Celebration

Join United Way of Rhode Island for our 95th Annual Celebration on Tuesday, October 26 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Together, we're celebrating Rhode Island United and honoring our extraordinary community volunteers.

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22nd Annual Lights On Afterschool

Join the Rhode Island Afterschool Network for our 22nd annual Lights On Afterschool celebration on Thursday, October 28, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Come celebrate our amazing afterschool professionals and learn how afterschool programs are closing Rhode Island's achievement gap.

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