Center Programs

Below is a summary of Center programs. For more detail, click on the program name (where a link is available).

Consulting and Training

The Center provides capacity building and organization development services in a variety of focus areas and competencies. Our model is holistic; whether we provide one service on a single occasion or a number of services over a period of time, we are mindful of the organizational context and accordingly the approach we take reflects this context.

We recognize the unique challenges and demands of serving nonprofit and government clients, and we recognize also the fundamental difference between serving stakeholders in support of a social mission or public good versus serving customers in support of profit. To be sure, the social and public sectors represent models and areas of expertise in their own right. But while some principles of governance and management are specific to nonprofit and government, we believe we have something to learn from the private sector as well; and to that end, our team of consultants and trainers has been chosen because it represents a background that can integrate the best of the disciplines and practices of business in the unique contexts of nonprofit and public work.

This rich and diverse expertise enables the Center to effectively translate the best all the sectors have to offer into a theory and practice relevant to the mission-driven nonprofit organization and outcome-focused government entity. Moreover, the Center's multi-sector education and experience makes its team uniquely positioned as a resource for those in the business community who seek to contribute in some capacity in the nonprofit arena, (whether as staff, volunteer, donor, or board member).

Program Management and Administration

When consulting or training isn't enough, the Center can act as the board's contract staff and manage or administer your programs directly — and in so doing serve as a virtual office. This is especially useful for the organization which requires additional resources for a program and yet does not want to add to its payroll or absorb more capital expenditures in order to meet the program requirements. It's useful also for the organization in transition; the Center can keep your programs active even as you undergo a shift of personnel or a relocation of your office.

Unlike many contract houses to which programs can be outsourced, the Center distinguishes itself as a stakeholder in your mission of social service, justice, and peace; and as a result we have an excellent record of stewardship and partnership which is unique in the consulting field.

The Learning Lab

Originally started as an independent organization, the Learning Lab is now a Center program which provides to our constituency of leaders, board members, managers, and nonprofit staff and volunteers an experiential training on how to be client-centered and outcome-focused in their organizations. Over a period of several months, participants use a project framework to learn about systems theory, planning, customer values, and reflective practice. They form a team which represents a cross-section from the public, nonprofit, and funding communities. This will help organizations take the program inside for a faster, comprehensive culture shift.

Project Daraja

Daraja is a Swahili word meaning bridge building. This project (which is part of our larger International Development Program) engages Center allies and resources to provide a response to key issues facing Kenyan communities in Africa. The project includes training on nonprofit management to an emerging NGO sector as well as community development work with local villages and groups of women who want to obtain funds to reopen a clinic, develop sustainable water supplies, prevent malaria, and provide education for their children and families.

Project Daraja also has a restorative justice component. Its goals include strengthening the conflict resolution processes of the indigenous community while building support within the traditional criminal justice system for the principles of restorative justice mediation, effective re-entry services for offenders, and diversion programs that allow the community to be involved in the resolution of specific problems.

Restorative Justice Council
On Sexual Misconduct in Faith Communities

Program Director, Linda Harvey, founded the Restorative Justice Council to advocate a victim-centered approach based on restorative justice principles for persons sexually abused by the clergy and religious institutions. As such it supplements conventional judicial remedies. It focuses on healing for child and adult abuse and exploitation as well as on accountability by the persons who caused the harm.

The Council is well represented by multiple disciplines and geographic areas. Its twelve members are restorative mediation practitioners, theologians, attorneys, peacemakers, representatives of victim advocacy and offender treatment organizations, and academics from higher education who are collaborating and promoting this restorative mediation model and other healing options.

Association for Dialogue and Dispute Resolution

The Association, co-founded by its president, Corneliu Loghin, and by Center Executive Director Barbara Raye among others, is a Center-affiliate non-governmental organization based in the city of Iasi, Romania. Its purpose is to strengthen communities by providing to nonprofit clients capacity building services in consulting, training, management, research, evaluation, and administration. It also provides restorative justice mediation and training and services in alternative dispute resolution.

The chief approach of the Association is the use of restorative justice mediation as a means of resolving conflict and of building organization capacity. The Association's core competencies include mediation, restorative justice, alternative dispute resolution, organization development, management consulting, board governance, and strategic planning.

African Immigrant Workers and Employers as Partners

This program is designed to help employers establish and sustain productive workplaces while at the same time tapping the rich culture and experience of African workers. The assumptions common to the workplace in the United States often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts between employers and the African workers whom they employ. The language, traditions, and unspoken expectations of African expatriates can be problematic for employers and employees alike, and this has led to high social and economic costs for our communities.

The Center has developed a means by which these differences can be reconciled in a mutually respectful work environment. By bridging the cultural gaps, employers and employees become partners in maximizing each other’s strengths and together produce higher productivity, greater stability, and economic benefit for everyone involved. This program is partially funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation and the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation.

African Women in Business

African women in the United States bring rich skills, experiences, and creative ideas to their adopted communities, but they often face legal, financial, and cultural hurdles in their efforts to join the business sector as entrepreneurs. This program seeks to remedy this by working with the learning cohorts of African business women in order to build capacity and to integrate mainstream business practices in their work. In this way we create self-sustaining, long-term support and advocacy for African women entrepreneurs which brings an increased economic vitality that benefits not only the women themselves but also their families and the larger community. This program has been funded by the Minneapolis Foundation.

Helen's Fund

This fund awards mini-grants to individuals who demonstrate they have what it takes to become future leaders. It's about rewarding individual power and individual accountability. The fund is named in honor of Helen Borczon. Over twenty years ago, Helen, a prominent citizen in Columbus, Indiana met Barbara Raye, then a young, single parent, student, full-time employee, and activist who spent her precious free time establishing The Women's Center and what in that day was referred to as a battered woman's shelter. Every school semester Helen would come to Barbara with $200 in cash. No strings attached. When asked why she gave this money she simply said, "Because you are creating my future." It is in the spirit of Helen's generosity that the Helen's Fund will help support more future leaders.

The Collaboration Institute

The Collaboration Institute provides consulting and training services as well as a clearinghouse of best practice and research on collaboratives to transform the established decision-making paradigm. At the Institute people learn how to share power, share risk, and engage people in the decision-making process. The learning takes place across traditional organization, sector, and power boundaries to build collective vision, action, accountability, and success in making a difference.

The Arts Hub

Social justice is a common theme throughout the arts. This project uses multiple venues and art media including film showings, book clubs, theatre, and music to explore the issues, challenges, and vision of creating a society that honors social justice and cultural diversity. The Arts Hub will also help integrate the arts into our consulting practice to ensure creative use of mythology, stories, music, and art expressions that hold the vision of social justice that our clients and we imagine.

Civic Volunteerism

Civic volunteerism is the foundation of the American democracy. The act of citizenship is more important than ever in creating a peaceful and just planet. The goals of this program include the publication of two assessment and skill development handbooks. The first is to enhance the capacity of mainstream organizations to effectively engage, sustain, and benefit from citizens who come from traditionally isolated groups. The second is for individuals who seek to more effectively participate in public opportunities, organizations, and citizenship processes and to increase their influence in those areas.