Community Foundation Kicks Off Nonprofit Mentoring Network

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio ­– Ten local organizations met at the offices of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley this week to kick off the Nonprofit Mentoring Network, the foundation’s newest effort to support a culture of collaboration, professional development and alignment between the area’s nonprofit agencies.

The year-long pilot program pairs established nonprofit organizations with smaller groups that are looking to take their work to the next level. Over the course of the program, matched organizations will share information, best practices and potential solutions to challenges.

“This program will really be led by the participating organizations,” says Josh Medore, the Community Foundation’s community relations and engagement coordinator who led the development of the Nonprofit Mentoring Network. “Our role is simply to bring together Valley nonprofits and give them space to learn from each other. What work will be done and what knowledge will be shared is up to the organizations themselves. And we want to applaud the nonprofits that came forward to take part in this brand-new pilot program that’s an experiment for all of us.”

In the initial meeting, partnered organizations discussed the work their organizations are doing, how they can support each other and some of the immediate ways they could share their expertise. Leaders of the nonprofits and CFMV staff also discussed best practices for making sure everyone gets the most out of their professional relationships.

Paired organizations are:

  • YWCA Mahoning Valley & United Returning Citizens
  • Ohio Urban Renaissance & Northeast Homeowners and Concerned Citizens Association
  • SMARTS & Honeycomb Arts and Wellness Collective
  • Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership & League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown
  • Alta Care Group & MyPath Mahoning Valley

Community Foundation staff enlisted the help of local nonprofit, church and education leaders to review the nearly 60 applications that were received and paired the 10 participating organizations together based on the kind of work their nonprofit does, their needs and expertise.

“While each pairing consists of a ‘mentor’ and a ‘mentee,’ we envision this as a two-way street for learning,” Medore says. “Every organization and every person involved has expertise in something that one of their colleagues will find valuable.”  

Over the course of the program, Medore and CFMV staff will check in on the pairings to collect feedback and gather information on how to adjust it for a potential broader launch next year. There will also be two network-wide meetings with all participants to share their experiences and ask questions of the group. Participants are expected to talk at least once per month and partner on projects when it makes sense for them to do so.

To compensate organizations for their time, energy and knowledge, selected organizations will receive a $5,000 stipend to put toward improving their nonprofit.

“With nearly 60 organizations applying to take part in the Nonprofit Mentoring Network, the Community Foundation sees the need – and demand – for support for nonprofits that goes beyond grantmaking,” says President Shari Harrell. “We’re excited to see how this pilot program develops and what feedback we hear from nonprofits so we can be the best partner in their work that we can be.”   

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