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Formative Change Group

By Shannon Joyce

This year, one of my most rewarding experiences has been working with FCG Consulting.   As a non-profit consulting club, FCG gives student analysts the opportunity to take what we learn in the classroom and use those skills to benefit socially minded organizations in Charlottesville.  Our projects are designed to help our clients increase their overall capacity, so it’s been a great opportunity for me to give back to the community in a meaningful way.  It’s also been an excellent opportunity for us student analysts to build our resumes with client-facing skills and specific deliverables that we can point to as our consulting accomplishments!

Now that FCG has finished its first project cycle of the year, I wanted to share with everyone what we’ve been able to do for our clients.

A team of student analysts worked with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to tailor a financial education program to better serve the needs of the Southwood community. Habitat for Humanity has been working in the Southwood Mobile Home Park since 2007, and it offers a number of educational and community enrichment classes as a part of their comprehensive approach to confronting poverty. FCG took the “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World curriculum and adapted it to fit the specific environment of the Southwood community, allowing Habitat to better leverage this resource in accomplishing its mission.

FCG analysts also worked with Madison House, the UVA institution that coordinates and encourages student volunteerism.   Madison House performed its very first survey measuring the impact of its programs throughout Charlottesville, and FCG took this raw data and turned it into meaningful information that Madison House can use to evaluate priorities and establish best practices. Going forward, Madison House will be able to continually evaluate its year to year progress and decide what’s working and what needs to change in order for the organization to stay relevant to Charlottesville’s needs.

A team of analysts also worked with The Future Fund, a giving circle based out of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.  Future Fund members pool their resources to give grants to worthy organizations, but the organization has faced declining membership in recent years.  Batten students worked to help the Future Fund develop a membership engagement survey, which they will be using as they move into a strategic planning process this year.

FCG team members also worked to refine client development processes as well as update the constitution to ensure better institutional memory and stronger transitions from cohort to cohort. Together these changes will ensure a stronger, more effective FCG that will continue to serve Batten and the Charlottesville community.

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Summer Internship Series #3

Our third internship post is from Madison, MPP post grad 2014.

Greetings from Beantown!  This summer, I am working and living in Boston, MA, and I am really enjoying exploring this great city.  I work with the nonprofit Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG) through an organization called New Sector Alliance.  Batten’s very own Colleen Farrell (MPP 2012) is also an alum of this great program, which combines training and mentorship with nonprofit consulting services through an Americorps grant.  I am working with TUGG to help them standardize and codify their internal processes as they prepare to expand to San Francisco.  This means I’m doing a lot of process mapping, performance measurement, and working to implement a new client relationship management system.  Hopefully the work I am doing will allow TUGG’s Executive Director (and sole employee) to expand his reach without having to hire additional full-time employees.

While several of my first-year classes have helped prepare me for this work (looking at you, Professor Mahoney), I find that the experience that has most helped me this summer is working with Formative Change Group (FCG).  Although I had worked in the nonprofit world before, it wasn’t until working as a student consultant with FCG that I realized just how constrained some small nonprofits are.  Resources are incredibly hard to come by, and many nonprofits will sacrifice on things like capacity building and overhead in order to expand programmatic work.  This summer, I feel like I am going to make a real difference in TUGG’s ability to function, and I hope to continue that work with FCG next year in Charlottesville.

In the meantime, my next challenge is to find out where the best chowder is.  Can’t wait to see you all back in Charlottesville!

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