Great things can begin with small steps, and there is a multiplying factor when fundraisers, donors and nonprofits each do their part, while pulling together.

In 2016, I was part of a community work group. Many of us have participated in committees like this. There was a common desire to do good, help people and make the community stronger; and we were open to how that might be achieved.

Our committee was focused on helping in a specific neighborhood, one with a very low median household income. Our goal was to improve incomes through tuition-free job training. Out of this effort, Community Services League (CSL) developed its Bridges to Career Opportunities Initiative. By the end of 2019, we had supported 109 students in their journeys to new careers and increased income.

The initiative offers several career pathways, but the most popular is the CNA program (Certified Nursing Assistant).

One student, with a story like many of our participants, worked in home healthcare in a position that did not require certification. She made $8.60/hour—the 2019 minimum wage in Missouri.

She joined the CNA program in the summer and graduated that fall. At graduation, she landed a job at the local hospital making $14.50/hour—around a $12,000 increase in her annual income, along with receiving full benefits. This was life changing, but after she realized what was possible, she didn’t want to stop there.

A CSL donor was so excited about the potential for this program that we were asked to identify students with collegiate ambitions who would be given an opportunity to compete for a college scholarship.

This particular student had been accepted to the St. Luke’s College of Nursing program to earn her bachelor’s. When she was introduced to the donor, the donor immediately wrote a check for $2,500 to pay for all the prerequisites at the local community college!

With her prerequisites out of the way, she would be able to earn her bachelor’s degree. Not only would this increase her income even more, but it would set her life on an amazing trajectory and inspire other people in her life to realize what was possible.

Donors are interested in human development. They want to invest in the lives of their neighbors. As nonprofits and fundraising leaders, the closer we can connect donors to the people they desire to support, the more we multiply the power of philanthropy.

Steve Jones Guest blog:
Doug Cowan
President and CEO
Community Services League
Kansas City

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