WMU's nonprofit leadership program named best in nation

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of WMU students and faculty on stage accepting award.

Students and faculty pose with the Sprint Program Excellence Award.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's undergraduate program in nonprofit leadership has been named the single program in the nation that exemplifies overall best practices in nonprofit career preparation and growth.

Recognized for excellence

Two dozen WMU students were in attendance at a Salt Lake City, Utah, conference Jan. 7 when the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance announced that WMU's nonprofit leadership program is this year's winner of the Sprint Program Excellence Award. The alliance is a national organization of more than 40 collaborating universities and nonprofit organizations.

Applications for the 2015 award were by invitation only and required creation of a video and PowerPoint as well as a live online presentation. Students in the WMU Nonprofit Leadership Student Association focused their application on recruitment, service learning, internships, the rigor of the WMU program, and involvement with the local community.

"The students did a great job with their video, presentation and responses to the questions from the award committee," noted Janice Maatman, WMU campus director for the nonprofit minor program in WMU's School of Public Affairs and Administration.

The video can be viewed at nlsawmu.org.

Among best practices championed by the WMU program, Maatman says, is the opportunity for students to actually award grants to meet community needs.

During the 2013-14 academic year, the School of Public Affairs and Administration allocated $18,000 and the students raised an additional $2,000 to re-grant $20,000 to local nonprofits. Students studied community needs, set priorities, issued requests for proposals, analyzed 23 proposals, completed site visits and held a Nonprofit Celebration. For this year, the students have another $13,000 from the school and have raised an additional $2,000 so they can award $15,000 to community organizations in spring 2015.

This is the second time the WMU program has been honored by its national professional organization for best practices in preparing the next generation of nonprofit sector leaders. In 2010, the program won the American Humanics Program Excellence Award, which is a forerunner to the Sprint Program Excellence Award.

About the program

WMU's Nonprofit Leadership program is designed to prepare students for entry-level professional positions in nonprofit organizations. In additional to traditional course work, this minor requires service to the University and community. The minor requires 18 credit hours of course work in such areas as communication, marketing and public relations, cultural competency and diversity, financial resource development and management, leadership and advocacy, legal and ethical decision making, program development, and volunteer and human resource management.

Successful completion of the minor means a student also earns a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
WMU's undergraduate minor in nonprofit leadership can be taken with any major from any college. The University also offers a concentration in nonprofit leadership within the Master of Public Administration program.

For more information, contact Janice Maatman, WMU's director of nonprofit education programs in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, at janice.maatman@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8945.

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