Nonprofit Organizations and Rural Municipalities Receive Training and MentoringRATIONALE
Deep and chronic poverty intensify the needs for rural organizations. Although many areas of Arkansas prosper through increased economic development, low per capita incomes, and high unemployment figures continue to plague rural Arkansas. On-the-ground organizations, such as nonprofits and small municipalities, are typically the first responders to a community's citizens. For this reason, it is imperative that such organizations have the capacity to deliver quality services. Rural organizations often lack staff, have staff with limited financial management and administrative skills, or lack knowledge of resources to fully support their mission. Winrock International, a nonprofit organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has a long history in capacity building and technical assistance across Arkansas. Winrock has a solid track record of increasing economic opportunity in the state and is in a unique position to use Rural Community Development Initiative funds to help rural organizations increase their capacity to take on larger, more complex projects.
Through needs assessments, group training activities, and one-on-one mentoring, Winrock will help organizations determine needs and develop priorities, locate grant funds and develop grant applications that support those priorities, and assist organizations in meeting the needs of their constituency. An in-depth needs assessment for nonprofits and municipalities alike will result in the identification of specific areas on which recipients can focus. This will also assist Winrock in developing mentoring and group trainings that meet the direct and individual needs of each recipient. Winrock will use the needs assessment to set a baseline for each organization on which progress and capacity built can be assessed.
The Winrock International Nonprofit Improvement Program (WINIP) Phase VII will provide training and mentoring to three new nonprofit organizations and three new rural municipalities while also providing access to continuing education to 34 previous WINIP recipients.
Five group training activities will take place during the 18-month project period. Two classroom workshops will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas, a central location easily accessible from all parts of the state. In addition, Winrock will host one capacity building tour to a previous WINIP recipient location. This "in the field" training provides firsthand experience to WINIP recipients. Winrock will also host one National Study Tour to Washington, DC. During this week-long tour, recipients meet with funding agency officials and the Arkansas Congressional Delegation. The National Study Tour shows recipients that their federal government works for them and is eager to assist them in meeting their goals
Winrock's extensive experience in renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements for rural organizations gives Winrock the unmatched ability to train recipients using in-house expertise. Winrock staff will conduct a workshop for all recipients, including those participating in the continuing education component that focuses on general education around issues of energy, conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Staff will discuss the basics of energy science, general energy conservation strategies, innovations in energy efficiency, opportunities in renewable energy and project financing strategies Winrock staff will also meet with six recipients for one-on-one energy-related technical assistance.
Winrock staff or consultants with experience in energy auditing, energy conservation and efficiency measures, and renewable energy systems will meet with each recipient to determine specific needs. Winrock will provide on-going mentoring and technical assistance to support implementation plans developed by the recipient organizations.
During the course of WINIP, Winrock has tracked the success of recipients. In seven years, 45 participating communities and nonprofits have brought home more than $19.6 million in federal, state and private funding. This funding has supported various projects including fire stations, sewer systems, walking trails, value-added agriculture facilities, and local festivals. Grant applications producing this funding were written by the recipients themselves, not Winrock International, proving that with grant writing training, direct mentoring and tours, rural communities can see great success.