Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Struggling Non-Profits

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Cleveland Urban League Closing Down

I am just shocked that the Urban League is closing down after 92 years. I had a staff member who had gone through one of their training programs, and always spoke highly of their program. The above pictures are from the Urban League's website, and the new building that seems to be half of their debt. For a non-profit organization, they always seemed to be stable and sound. They had all the big players that all the other non-profit directors in the community would have wished to have on our boards. All the major banks, Cleveland Schools leadership, CSU, someone from Channel 5, Dominion, John Carroll, Sam's Club, Squire Sanders, public relations firms, newspapers, and many insurance companies were at the table as board members. For those teaching non-profit management, this was the golden board that could be a model for the rest of us. I just can't believe it. AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns all had pretty good boards as well. I guess it is a new day in America for non-profit and for-profit corporations since September 2008. If the Urban League can go down, then how close to the edge are the rest of us? This is a huge blow to Cleveland, and someone should host an emergency meeting of all the local non-profits to stop the bleeding. I am especially worried about the social justice organizations in Cleveland closing down. I mean, if an important group that provides job training like the Urban League with their strong board and United Way funding closes, how soon until the gadflies, public policy experts, and rebel groups in the community face the reaper? The one thing that Cleveland needs more than anything else is job training programs. How did this happen?

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Anonymous said...

It is a fantasy to think that trans-national for profit corporate managers have any relevant knowledge about managing on a shoestring, or appreciate the challenges of working with consumers. IF they brought major gifts they should have been prevented from being on the board as they prevent truly knowledge individuals and grassroots players from providing critical input and true governance. This kind of major donor dominance has to stop. Its not power to the people, but it is back to real democracy and balancing the power within boards. Donors have very limited knowledge, and alot of money. And that's OK!

NP Consultant from KCMO.

CVMSummit said...

I was very shocked and saddened to learn of the Urban League closing down. Years ago, I was a graduate of the "Rising Tide Program" and it really changed my life. Its whole focus was job readiness and fatherhood. I wouldn't be where I am in life without this program. I hope that someone will step-up and give them the funding that they need to keep going.