The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs has been partnering since 2002 with the National Urban League to build the entrepreneurial capacity of its affiliates by providing intensive, residential training sessions for its senior executives. The League has more than 100 local affiliates and is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.
The first six-and-a-half day training session in February 2003 took place at George Mason University in Virginia: Twenty-five of the 29 class members were CEOs of National Urban League affiliates. Clark Atlanta University hosted the second session in Atlanta in February 2006: Of the 23 class members, 21 were affiliate CEOs. Institute Executive Director Jerr Boschee designed the original curriculum for the training sessions and has served as the lead faculty member, along with Jim McClurg, Vice President of the Social Enterprise Alliance. Additional faculty members have been drawn from the participating universities and from the National Urban League staff. More than ten guest speakers have also appeared at each of the sessions.
The training session curriculum contains a mix of theory and practice. Its goals are to acquaint participants with the most current thinking about social enterprise, to fan their entrepreneurial spirit, and to give them hands-on experience with leading edge business skills. Class members are exposed to six subjects, each designed to be of particular relevance to entrepreneurial nonprofits: Creating an entrepreneurial culture; strategic planning; developing a social purpose business venture; financial planning and financing strategies; positioning and marketing strategies; and strategic partnerships. In addition, class members participate in a business planning competition that culminates with an awards ceremony at the closing banquet.
The training sessions are the first step in a multi-year project for each of the graduates; the National Urban League provides ongoing support while they develop entrepreneurial strategic plans, adopt earned income strategies and launch business ventures. The League currently intends to provide similar training sessions and follow-up support to more than 60 additional affiliate CEOs during the coming years.
"The Executive Academy was a godsend for me and my affiliate.
It was just the right mix of theory, practice and real-life experiences to help us move forward.
Every nonprofit leader should be exposed to this fantastic learning opportunity."
President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Kansas City
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