United Way Changing up Training Program

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The United Way of Central Indiana is planning to "reboot" its Leadership United training series. The organization says changes are designed to better serve interests of potential board members of nonprofits. May 13, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - When United Way of Central Indiana opens enrollment this month for its Leadership United training series that starts in September, a new model will be unveiled, United Way announced. The "reboot" was driven by participant feedback and community needs.

"The program is more than 20 years old, and today's participants are asking for more options and more flexibility," said Alan Witchey, director of United Way's Volunteer Center. "At the same time, our nonprofit partners continue to report a need for better trained volunteer leadership on their boards of directors. The changes we are making will better meet those needs and allow participants to dive deep into the issues facing Central Indiana."

Witchey said participants will learn about their personal leadership style and board best practices, as well as how United Way is bringing nonprofits, businesses and others together to improve lives in our community. The changes are driven by research and input from past participants.

Feedback from focus groups, surveys and other methods showed that United Way should update its program to better respond to needs of today's board members. "Board members are often the driving leadership that makes a nonprofit successful in its mission, and we have a long history of producing successful results," Witchey added. More than 85 percent of Leadership United graduates go on to service in important roles on nonprofit boards.

"United Way's training is highly regarded, and these changes will fill an important gap that other local leadership programs do not," said Witchey. United Way's training is specifically geared to equip volunteers to become effective board members of nonprofits, he added.

"Today, so many people are struggling to balance their personal lives and their careers, let alone trying to figure out how to fit volunteering successfully into their lives. It's tough to balance it all," Witchey explained.

While maintaining the nine-month structure for Leadership United, United Way will also offer shorter, more flexible training through issue focused and advanced workshops, allowing participants to take their skills to new levels, he added.

To meet the requests of participants and business partners, United Way is:

-Combining its four existing board training series into a single Leadership United track that will expose 50 participants to more community leaders as presenters, rather than a single moderator who stays with the group for nine months.

When United Way's first training was created in 1989, it was designed to attract and prepare more minority volunteers to board service. Over time, three more series were added: one designed for women; another for experienced board members; and, another for young professionals. The new model will bring volunteers from every diverse group together, so that the training itself mirrors the experience of serving on a diverse board, Witchey explained.

-Adding "master classes" for more in depth concentration on the most pressing issues in our community: quality education, assuring financial stability, keeping kids healthy, and helping everyone meet their basic needs.

-Offering a new, shorter and more intense training (Leadership Ignited) twice a year on special topics to trigger interest around a pressing community need. The new classes would span two full days and two half days.

-Developing customized educational workshops and volunteer experiences for companies. The three-part experience will allow participants to learn about a community issue, complete a related volunteer experience, and reflect about the success and learning gained.

Applications to participate in the updated nine-month Leadership United training are begin accepted until June 20, 2014. Visit http://www.uwci.org/programs/leadership-programs to learn more, or call Christa Thacker, 317. 921.1274.

United Way of Central Indiana helps people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives. United Way gets things done by mobilizing people and community partners in six Central Indiana counties to identify, advance and advocate the best solutions. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to be part of the change. Visit uwci.org to learn more.

Source: United Way of Central Indiana