Tuesday, May 27, 2014

SBDC Interview With James Smith, Executive Director, Meros Academy


What is the significance of the word meros?

Meros, pronounced mer’-os, is Greek for “a part of the whole” and is representative of our attention to personalizing instruction for each individual students while also creating a culture of collaboration and shared learning. It is also symbolizes how each of the Eight Elements impact student success individually and as a cohesive system.

 
What is the mission of Meros Academy?

 Meros Academy integrates eight essential elements to create a learning environment that coaches students to manage their education and maximize potential.

 
It is our understanding that you have an eight element approach to learning. Tell us more about that.

At the heart of Meros Academy’s pioneering approach to balanced learning is the integration of eight research-proven elements that combine to significantly improve a student’s ability to learn effectively; unleashing individual potential for success in life. These eight essential elements are as follows:
  • Solution-Driven Learning, which integrates project-based and blended learning with teaching-to-learn practices
  • Intentional parental and community engagement throughout the learning process
  • Learning coaches who personalize instruction and maximize academic growth
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills training; including business development, marketing, graphic design, video editing, and print media incorporated into the curriculum
  • Nutritional focus supporting healthy living
  • Inclusion of action sports (ie skateboarding) programs that harbor unique biological, psychological, and social skills
  • Sustainable campus construction utilizing healthy design concepts and resource-efficient materials
  • School culture geared to assist adolescents in academic and personal development

 
You have a  Summer Program kicking off this year.

MEROS Academy is launching its Solution-Driven Learning model in a two-week Summer Program. During the program, students will tackle projects allowing them to utilize critical thinking skills, team-work, creativity and collaboration while learning advanced mathematics, science and language arts.

Learning should be an amazing experience so we are hosting a fully interactive and immersive summer program. Our students will directly apply their interests and creativity in a project-based environment building skateboard ramps, filming and editing public service announcements, designing and programming robots and creating art. The payoff? As the students learn advanced subjects, they will have so much fun it won’t feel like work. Which is the goal of our whole learning model.

You also are in the middle of a crowdsourcing campaign. How is that going and how can one participate?

We are in the home stretch of our RocketHub crowdfunding campaign and have raised 71% of our $35,000 goal. To participate, visit http://rkthb.co/42925 and learn about the vision of Meros Academy and what we are developing this summer.

 What is the hardest thing about being a founding executive Director of a nonprofit like Meros?

The biggest challenge is moving people from belief to action. Everywhere I go I talk to parents, students, educators and community members who all agree that the current state of education is failing to adequately prepare kids for the 21st century. Despite this fact, many people are unwilling to invest in a soundly researched, innovative model.

What advice would you give to people thinking of starting a nonprofit?

The question I would ask someone thinking of starting a nonprofit is, “If you knew right now that this project is going to fail, are you still willing to invest your life’s resources?” If the answer is yes, it is because that person is committed to the cause. Don’t start something if you don’t possess that type of commitment.

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

UNF SBDC: One of Our Best Workshops! Nonprofit Fundraising May 2nd.

Our May 2nd nonprofit workshop, Nonprofit Fundraising: Making the Ask is shaping up nicely. If you want in on this one, you need to get a move on! This workshop will provide participants with experienced insights into the fundraising process. All the steps thet lead up to that crucial "ask," and what happens next.

Event Info:
May 2, 2014
9am -Noon
$40
UNF- Herbert University Center (building 43)
Free parking
Register: 904-620-2476 or via our website.

We are delighted to have none other than Jane Jordan, Founding Principal, PartnersWithNonprofits.Org, facilitating this workshop. Here is some information about her experience in the nonprofit sector:

Jane has more than 40 years experience in community affairs, fund development, strategic planning, nonprofit organization administration, corporate social responsibility, corporate foundation management and consulting to nonprofits, giving me a unique perspective on the process of both asking for and receiving charitable contributions.

For 22 years she has been a consultant to nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes, assisting these organizations in raising money through annual, major gift and capital campaigns, or in preparing to raise money through strategic planning, fundraising planning, campaign market studies, executive recruitment and more.

Specialties: Capital, major gift and annual fundraising, strategic and fundraising planning, board development and training, fundraising and organizational assessments.

Consulting associate to Lawson Associates, Dallas, New York City and Nashville; and CoreStrategies for Nonprofits, Miami.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Business Skills Becoming the Norm at Nonprofits


Kevin Monahan here. I found an article in the Sun-Sentinel about renewed efforts to bring solid business practices into nonprofit environments. Increasingly, corporate talent is being brought in to help run multi million dollar nonprofits. Smaller nonprofits are collaborating to save money and create efficiencies, while spending more money on staff training in business disciplines.

"Today, as funders seek greater accountability and demand for social services spikes, nonprofit managers are finding they must boost their business skills to run their organizations effectively."

Here in Jacksonville, we have multiple agencies helping move nonprofits in that direction, The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, Hands-On Jacksonville and our own FSBDC at the University of North Florida host a wide array of training events for nonprofits and offer mentoring by qualified professionals or referrals. UNF also offers a Graduate Certification in Nonprofit Management for those looking to become tomorrow's nonprofit leaders.. 

While we would like to see a lot more collaboration between nonprofits, one shining light at the end of the tunnel is the Jessie Ball duPont Fund's Nonprofit Incubator currently in development downtown. It may well be the biggest nonprofit asset our area has ever seen offering, space, training, consulting and anchor tenants to mentor other agencies. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Strategic Planning for Nonprofits February 12th!


Nonprofit Strategic Planning

A strategic plan defines what your organization does, who you serve, how you provide services, how thay are funded, and what you need in order to provide those services in your community.
This nonprofit strategic planning session will provide you with an overview of what a strategic plan should contain and the process to develop a plan. We’ll spend some time looking at strategic priorities, goals, and measures – what each of these means and how to use them to effect change in your organization. Facilitated by Julia Burns!
Event Date: February 12th
Time: 9am to 12pm
Cost:$40
Register: 904-620-2476 or http://tinyurl.com/ms9bdcd
 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Nonprofit Quarterly: Are There Social Media Silos In Your Organization?


Larger nonprofits have been more likely than other sized nonprofits to embrace social media as a storytelling platform. While that is good news, there has been a spate of programs and their staff operating on their own guidelines (if any) and promoting with only their specific goals and objectives. According to Jennifer Amanda Jones in the most recent Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ):

"Staff of nonprofit organizations may find themselves working in social media silos. For example, three different programs might operate three different Facebook pages, and no one talks to one another. It’s easy: Just bury your head and do your work. That is, after all, what staff is paid to do."

The article goes on to talk about "Silos" vs "Hub and spoke" where such pursuits are centralized in an organization. Which is best? It depends.

We think that staff should indeed be trained and that those responsible for social media within their programs should meet periodically and discuss ways to dovetail the messages with the overall mission in mind. What do you think? Let us know...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New video from IRS Demystifys 501(c)3 Nonprofit Start-ups!

The IRS has come out with a new series of instructional videos that make it easier to understand the process of applying for 501(C)3 status. The overview course provides valuable information presented bu Leagle the Eagle. The coursework takes you through starting a nonprofit, applying for exemption, required filings, ongoing compliance and significant events.
Check it out here.