grow and learn with fellow leaders
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.
The 2021 Nonprofit Innovation Lab online application is now closed.
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. (Currently, we are planning to hold virtually via Zoom for 2021. We may change to an in-person format at our United Way office, depending on state 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.
Participation in the program is free, thanks to generous funding from Bank Newport. Upon completion, each graduate’s organizations receive grants of $2,000 to complete an organizational goal identified at the outset of the program.
Applications are due each year in December for the following year’s program.
IN THE NEWS
FabNewport, Lucy’s Hearth receive grants
What's Up Newp
"United Way of Rhode Island… announced that it is putting $4.5 million in grants to work in the community to create transformational change in the Ocean State… On Aquidneck Island, FabNewport and Lucy's Hearth each received grants, which are part of United Way's commitment to invest $100 million over the next 5 years to build racial equity in Rhode Island."
PBN announces 2021 Best Places to Work
Providence Business News
"Seventy-two honorees — including United Way of Rhode Island — have been named by Providence Business News for its 2021 Best Places to Work Awards program... The honorees will be recognized June 9 for their efforts in a virtual ceremony, where the company rankings in each category will be announced."
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not? – $4.5M in Grants
On Wednesday, April 28, United Way of Rhode Island announced $4.5M in grants to the community. "The funding… was awarded to 72 organizations in support of programs targeting the root causes of the racial inequities that have held back Rhode Island's Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities for generations."
Community Learning Partners, featuring DownCity Design and FabNewport
Join Women United at noon for a Community Learning Partners event featuring guest speaker Adrienne Gagnon, co-founder and executive director of DownCity Design, and Steve Heath, co-founder and executive director of FabNewport. Each organization inspires youth to use the power of design to make a positive social impact in their communities.
The Night Is Young
You’re the one that I want, ooh, ooh, honey, to join the Young Leaders Circle from 7 –11 p.m. for a drive-in movie night. We'll be showing 50’s favorite "Grease" at Misquamicut Drive-In Theater. Tickets are $50 per car (two people) and $25 for each additional passenger. All funds raised will go towards providing scholarships for Rhode Island youth enrolled in summer learning programs.
Getting to a Livable Wage in RI
Join us at 2 p.m. for a community first conversation on the importance of increasing income for Rhode Island workers. This discussion will be hosted by United Way’s Kyle Bennett, director of policy and equity. You'll hear from leaders of Rhode Island's Labor, Housing, and Finance communities on how Rhode Islanders can continue to advocate for a livable wage for Rhode Islanders.