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Leaders United: A “win-win” for nonprofits, participants

As Leaders United, a special United Way program created to develop our next generation of community and corporate leaders, gears up for its third year, nonprofit partners are extremely excited. Part of the leadership course entails project work with a local United Way agency, and partners say it’s a win-win for both themselves and the participants.

One such agency is Annex Teen Clinic, where Executive Director Brian Russ worked with Leaders United in the program’s second year. Russ had participants from Target, Cargill, and Land ‘O Lakes in 2017 who helped his organization with marketing challenges, including increasing Annex’s visibility in the community.

“We don’t have a marketing budget, or internal folks who know how to make videos or revamp our website,” Russ said. “Our Leaders United participants were able to create a beautiful, professional brand video for us and help with overall marketing materials. In addition, they were very enthusiastic about our mission and truly wanted to help.”

Michelle Ness is the Executive Director of PRISM, another United Way partner. She echoed Russ’ sentiments about benefitting from being a Leaders United project site.

“Right off the bat, I was excited by the caliber of the companies that were participating in Leaders United,” Ness said. “These are hard companies to get connected with. I liked that their up-and-coming leaders would engage with our nonprofit leaders and come away understanding more about our work.”

Ness said PRISM was preparing for a site move at the time and needed help with change management as well as marketing.

“The cohort participants were super interested in what we were doing, and we were able to leverage their knowledge, some of which was outside of our skill set internally,” she said. “I think the program is a gift for small nonprofits.”

Both Russ and Ness say Annex and PRISM have both stayed in touch with their Leaders United participants over the last year.

“Some of them are still engaged in our organization, through annual contributions or coming to our fundraiser,” Russ said. “For us, Leaders United was a pathway to new volunteers and donors.”

“I feel like we made some good connections,” Ness said. “I have been inviting our Leaders United participants to PRISM events and also reached out to a few with questions when I needed a specific piece of advice.”

If you are interested in being part of the third Leaders United cohort, please apply online now.

For more information about Leaders United, contact Andrea Caro at andrea.caro@gtcuw.org or 612-340-7569.

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