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New Urban Arts, Jonnycake Center, and Youth in Action named winners of 2013 INE Best Practice Awards
By Lauren Paola / April 10, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
The Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence (INE) announced New Urban Arts, Jonnycake Center of Westerly, and Youth in Action as the 2013 winners of the Best Practice Awards. Sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the award program recognizes outstanding practices by Rhode Island nonprofit organizations in the areas of board governance, leadership development, and creative collaboration.

“These organizations emerged from a highly competitive process and an impressive group of nominees,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of the INE. “I believe that their best practices will be instructive to all nonprofits.”

New Urban Arts is being honored with the Best Practice Award for Board Governance. Founded in 1997, the nationally-recognized organization provides free, year-round, out of school arts programs for high school students and emerging artists. Over the last two years, the 17-member board of directors undertook major projects to strengthen the organization. The group purchased a 4,000 square foot building on Westminster Street, supervised its renovation, and ran a capital campaign that helped paid off the mortgage and left the organization with an endowment. New Urban Arts leaders say, “We are now better fund-raisers, better organizers, better over-seers, and better collaborators than when we started. Most importantly, the studio is used every day as students and artists work together.”

Youth in Action (YIA) is receiving the Best Practice Award for Leadership Development. The organization engages young people in a unique leadership and governance structure where they comprise the majority of its board of directors and facilitate and manage multiple community outreach and educational programs. In 2012, YIA established a new leadership pipeline among program alumni and junior staff to lay the foundation for succession planning and greater community impact. The result has been 20 new positions held by YIA alumni, clearer responsibilities, and higher motivation, which has helped senior staff focus on strategy, fundraising, and new community partnerships. YIA’s board says, “The entire Youth in Action model hinges on leadership development. As an organization, we will neither fulfill our mission nor thrive unless we are developing strong young leaders.”

The Best Practice Award for Creative Collaboration is awarded to Jonnycake Center of Westerly, representing the Basic Needs Network of Washington County (BNN), a collaborative of 30 active groups in southern Rhode Island working to meet the needs of residents facing financial crisis. In 2012, BNN formed a subcommittee to address the lack of public transportation in Washington County, which created a barrier to residents seeking employment, human services, and other basic needs. Together, they identified the problem, obtained grant funding to study it and secured statistical evidence, and ultimately, created a solution with a trial bus shuttle service. Representatives say, “Although the BNN member agencies individually are guided by different missions, we are united in our passion on this issue. Our intent to improve the lives of our neighbors through improved transportation has brought us together, leading to increased, deeper communication and work between us.”

The organizations will each receive unrestricted grants of $1,000 and tuition waivers for up to two board or staff members to any INE programs for one year following the award. Recipients will also be honored in a ceremony on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at Blue Cross & Blue Shield Rhode Island headquarters, as well as recognized at the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Foundation on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
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