grow and learn with fellow leaders
Deputy Director Learning Circle
The Deputy Director Learning Circle will focus on strengthening the competencies of nonprofit staff who aspire to become executive directors. Core areas will include staff leadership, financial management, board development, strategic planning, and marketing and communications.
The no-cost program will run from September 2022 - June 2023. Cohort members will meet on the second Friday of each month from 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. at United Way. (Classes may be held virtually as needed.)
The Deputy Director Learning Circle will be led by Michael Fournier. For nearly a decade, Michael has provided volunteer consulting to numerous grassroots nonprofits in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, primarily in the areas of capacity building and executive coaching. Previously, he spent 35 years serving in senior leadership roles with YMCAs in Manchester, New Hampshire and Providence, Rhode Island.
Applications for the Deputy Director Learning Circle are due by Wednesday, August 17, 2022.
Nonprofit Innovation Lab
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.
Destenie Vital, Director, What Cheer Flower Farm 2021 First Place Winner
"What the Nonprofit Lab does is level the playing field, giving small nonprofits and BIPOC-led organizations, a chance to compete in a tough market in which organizations with the most resources and people power tend to dominate and acquire the most funding.
As a woman of color, operating in a space where merit was the foundation was highly affirming. My voice was respected, my voice was heard, and I was able to show up at every workshop as my authentic self. This speaks to the mission of SEG and the United Way of Rhode Island because it's the diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, we often hear about in theory... in practice.
If you are thinking about applying, do it!
Your organization will be better for it. You will be better for it."
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.
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.”
Program details and application process
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.
The Executive Director Learning Circle is sponsored by BankNewport.
How you can save money amidst Rhode Island Energy rate hike
With rates rising starting Oct. 1, Rhode Islanders have many ways to save money and energy this fall... [For] anyone... need[ing]... financial assistance... United Way of Rhode Island’s 211 service may help... 'We’re here to help the community navigate resources,' said Courtney Smith, director of... 211... The service is available online at 211 United Way of Rhode Island or over the phone.
Program aims to reverse learning loss
For 30 hours a week for six weeks, the Summer Learning Initiative gives students the opportunity to learn in fun and out-of-the-box ways... "There’s ways to be able to explore and be creative without feeling like they are falling farther and farther behind, which I think a lot of youth are feeling right now because of the pandemic," [Marlene] Guay said.
Summer energy bill assistance is available
The Westerly Sun
The Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund is open to all eligible Rhode Island households experiencing financial difficulty and [needing] assistance with energy expenses, even in the summer. The fund is sponsored by Rhode Island Energy, Block Island Utility District, Ocean State Power, Pascoag Utility District, Petro Home Services and RISEC LP and administered by United Way of Rhode Island.
A cohort of eight nonprofit staff from a diverse group of local organizations has been selected by United Way of Rhode Island to participate in its inaugural Deputy Director Learning Circle. The new leadership development series was designed specifically to strengthen the competencies of individuals who aspire to become executive directors.
Building off the successful use of 211 as a voter information hotline in 2020, United Way of Rhode Island today announced a partnership with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to establish a new, multilingual 211 Voter Information Hotline… By dialing 211 and selecting prompt 5, users connect with a trained… 211 call specialist able to answer a range of questions.
United Way of Rhode Island is launching a new leadership development series for staff of local nonprofits with annual budgets of $5 million and under and is currently accepting applications from interested participants. The no-cost program is the Deputy Director Learning Circle, and it was developed specifically to strengthen the competencies of nonprofit staff who aspire to become executive directors.
Together, we'll celebrate the positive impact we've made this year, thanks to you — our donors, partners, and volunteers — and honor the heroes among us.
This event is free and open to all. Registration is required.