Leadership Development

Leadership Development

grow and learn with fellow leaders

Nonprofit Innovation Lab

SPARKED_SEG_UWRI logo

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 2022 Nonprofit Innovation Lab online application is due April 22, 2022.

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."

Destenie Vital

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 have closed. For more information, please contact Roshni Darnal, director of community investments at roshni.darnal@unitedwayri.org.

Executive Director Leader Circle 2019 (2)
BNP-Style2-B_4C-FDIC

The Executive Director Learning Circle is sponsored by BankNewport.

Forbes Nonprofit Council members share tips on building mutually beneficial partnerships. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

Form Symbiotic Nonprofit Relationships

Forbes Nonprofit Council

"If not done carefully, a business relationship has the potential to hinder rather than help the work being done by both organizations. To prevent collaborations that hinder nonprofit work, 11 members of Forbes Nonprofit Council, including Cortney Nicolato, United Way of Rhode Island's president and CEO, share how nonprofit leaders can form mutually beneficial relationships with a partner or another organization."

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Rakia Islam is one of the Design Team members. PHOTO: Refugee Dream Center

Nonprofit Center Design Team Announced

GoLocalProv

"United Way of Rhode Island announced on Tuesday the... members of a 'Design Team' that will be tasked with co-creating a vision and plan for... a Nonprofit Resource Center... 'We had a strong application response, and [these] individuals particularly stood out for their collection of unique insights and commitment to collaboration,' said Cortney Nicolato, president and CEO of United Way."

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CORTNEY NICOLATO is the CEO and president of the United Way of Rhode Island. As of Monday afternoon, this year's 401Gives Day raised $3.09 million, breaking last year’s record total by close to a million dollars. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

401Gives raises $3.09M for 507 nonprofits

Providence Business News

"This year's 401Gives Day raised the bar, once again, in supporting the state's nonprofit sector. As of Monday afternoon, the annual online fundraising initiative raised $3.09M, breaking last year's record total by close to a million dollars. It also saw a record number of donors – 12,850 in total as of 2:15 p.m. Monday – and number of organizations supported at 507, exceeding last year's mark by 87."

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Seeking Input for Nonprofit Resource Center

“The Design Team working with United Way of Rhode Island to create a vision and plan for a statewide Nonprofit Resource Center is seeking input from the community to help guide what the center could offer. The first virtual session will look at current nonprofit capacity, followed by a number of visioning sessions focused on brainstorming strategies to strengthen nonprofits.”

Olneyville Community Fund RFP Released

“Continuing its commitment to strengthening the neighborhood it calls home, United Way of Rhode Island has released a request for proposal (RFP) for funding from its Olneyville Community Fund. More than $100,000 in grants is being made available to nonprofits located in Olneyville and those whose work specifically serves the Olneyville community.”

11 Leaders Selected for Design Team

“Work to create a Nonprofit Resource Center to support Rhode Island organizations is picking up steam with the selection of the members of the Design Team that will be tasked with cocreating a vision and plan for what the effort will look like. United Way of Rhode Island… has named 11 nonprofit leaders to the team.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

Children’s Book Drive 2022

United Way of Rhode Island's Children's Book Drive is back! From April 1 - May 25, we're teaming up with Women United and Books Are Wings to help Rhode Island children build their own libraries at home. Want to donate books or host a drive with your family, friends, or coworkers? View our Children's Book Drive 2022 Frequently Asked Questions at the link below.

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Visioning Session: Capacity Building Effort

United Way of Rhode Island is partnering with local nonprofit leaders to design a nonprofit resource hub for organizations across the state. Join us for a virtual, 90-minute visioning session to brainstorm strategies to address the needs of Rhode Island nonprofits and structural inequities in the sector. There will be five sessions — choose the one that best fits your schedule.

TUESDAY, 5/31 | 1 P.M.

 

MONDAY, 6/6 | 2:30 P.M.

 

THURSDAY, 6/9 | 9 A.M.

 

MONDAY, 6/13 | 2 P.M.

 

TUESDAY, 6/14 | NOON

Day of Action

Join United Way of Rhode Island for Day of Action on Saturday, June 4 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m at United Way in Providence. We'll be sorting, labeling, and preparing books collected during our Children's Book Drive 2022 for distribution to kids in afterschool and summer learning programs. Three shifts are available — 9 - 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., and 2 - 4 p.m. This is a family friendly volunteer opportunity.

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The Night Is Young

Don't miss the largest young professionals event of the year! Join United Way's Young Leaders Circle for The Night Is Young on Saturday, June 18 from 7 - 11 p.m. at Skyline at Waterplace. Register now to get early bird tickets for $45.

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