2017 Week Four: Nonprofit Management

picture of Victoria Li CIIPVICTORIA LI | BALTIMORE CORPS

This weekend I will be traveling up to Washington College at Chestertown, MD to help run a week-long summer program for 9th and 10th grade student leaders where they learn about Baltimore, Baltimore Corps and the issues that are facing the city today. I designed the program for the week, wherein groups of 5 students will each receive a Visionary Cause Leader placement (similar to Baltimore Corps fellows in the real world), and they will be tasked with learning more about and presenting on an issue that deals with historic, systemic discrimination and inequality in the city. One of the issues that we have selected is the evolution of Baltimore City’s transportation system and how it does not service much of the city’s disenfranchised African American population. Since we have chosen four issues, one member of Baltimore Corps’ team will present on one issue.

On Friday afternoon, I and a few of my Baltimore Corps teammates for this project were chatting and one of my teammates ran through her presentation for the issue of the Baltimore City transportation system for us. Instead of lecturing the students or only giving them statistics, she made the presentation into a story – a story about her own life. Since moving to Baltimore at the age of 13, she has had to rely on public transportation as the main tool of getting around in the city. I heard this young, talented, driven professional talk about how because the last buses ended at 9 p.m. on Saturdays, she spent some weekends of her youth stranded in odd places until Monday morning when the buses began running again and how now, still, because of the revamping of the bus system last week, her daily commute time has doubled. And it really touched me, just as I hope it will touch the high school students we will be working with next week and inspire them to learn more about issues in Baltimore City.

picture of Daniela Perez-Roldan CIIPDANIELA PEREZ-ROLDAN | STRONG CITY BALTIMORE, HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOOD

I can’t believe we are already halfway through! Starting this journey, I was a little nervous because I have never had an internship before, and I was scared of the possibility of the tasks that I would be given. To be completely honest I did not know to expect and I could not anticipate the unknown.

I did not take long to establish my position as there was a lot to do! These four weeks have felt like much longer in the sense of what has gotten done and what I have learned.

In terms of what has gotten done:
The Sisson Street Lot in Remington has really started to take form. We are working with volunteers to build the berms (raised banks) that will outline the center area. For more information about what we are working towards visit http://www.ndc-md.org/sisson-street-lot/.
In Ednor-Gardens, we have been working diligently to plan the 90th Anniversary of the neighborhood. It took a lot of planning in not a lot of time, but we have managed to put it all together for this weekend. On top of this, I have been working with other members of the community to plan the Waverly Village Fair which is a much bigger event. There have definitely been some setbacks since it is hard to communicate everything over email, but I have learned that this is the easiest way to reach everyone with different schedules.

In terms of what I have learned:
I don’t even know where to begin. There is so much, not only in terms of how to work in an office space, but also in terms of working with people. There is only so much you can learn in a class, it the real hands-on experiences that prepare you for the future. While I have loved working with both of these neighborhoods and have gain a lot of invaluable experience, I have also learned a lot about myself and have come to find that this community planning is not for me.

I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!

picture of Simone Robbennolt CIIPSIMONE ROBBENNOLT | INVESTED IMPACT

The fourth of July vacation was a much needed break, when I returned to work on Wednesday I felt refreshed and ready to get back to work. The highlight for me this week was my first piece was published on the Invested Impact blog. I am honored by the fact that the post was published under the organization’s own name. My supervisor trusts me enough to label my writing as the views and opinions of the entire organization. These past couple of weeks have definitely been a learning experience in regards to writing in an organizational perspective.

I really enjoyed the CIIP midpoint speaker session with Mark Steiner. His discussion on creating conversations and the most important aspect of communications is listening really sparked my interest. As a member of WJHU who has a radio show that interviews people, it was very helpful to help me think about my own personal interviewing skills. His advice on asking the same question five different ways to get an answer that you are searching for is something that I want to integrate more in my conversations through WJHU.

Another interesting thing I learned about myself this week was that I am much more productive when I stand up! I have heard about the most recent standing desk trend so when I was feeling a little sluggish at work one day I decided to work on the taller tables located in the Impact Hub. Much to my surprise I had my most productive work day yet. I really like how the Impact Hub has all different options as to where I can work so I can find what type of style is best for me. Not only am I learning all about impact investing through my internship, but I am also learning about my working style in an office space.

picture of Celine Shanosky CIIPCELINE SHANOSKY | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP

I’ve always thought that the term “visionary” was kind of cheesy. It’s often used as filler in those wordy introductions nervous presenters give: “He was a visionary in his field…” You know the drill.

But this week, the word “visionary” clicked for me. On Friday, I prepared summaries of ten projects that Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP) submitted for Project C.O.R.E funding. The funding would pay for the predevelopment of properties to be renovated or constructed in Central Baltimore. The range of projects was incredible. One imagined transforming a vacant theatre into a theatre technology company’s testing and training facility. Another wished to demolish a vacant warehouse next to Greenmount Rec Center to create a multipurpose field. Yet another envisioned replacing crumbling row homes with an apartment complex and grocery store.

My supervisors look at vacant buildings and ask: what if this was affordable housing, or a business? That’s visionary. And it’s this vision that draws me to the field of community development. But there’s a problem: I love guidelines. I thrive in an environment where expectations are clear and there are directions to be followed. But at CBP, we work on things that haven’t been done before. Change happens in innovative spaces were there aren’t expectations or guidelines. By the end of this internship, I hope to be a few steps closer to being comfortable in these innovative spaces. Change happens beyond guidelines and expectations, and I will push myself to be there for it.

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