We are proud to announce that LA’s Promise has been awarded Service Enterprise certification by L.A. Works. The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national program administered through Points of Light that recognizes nonprofits with exceptional volunteer programs. Nonprofits that operate as Service Enterprises more effectively address community needs and run on almost half the median budget than those nonprofits that do not leverage volunteers across all levels of the their organization.
To qualify for certification, organizations must go through a year long process that consists of attending a series of best practices workshops, creating action plans, and strategize with expert coaches from the Executive Service Corps on ways to best implement their plans.
We spoke with Caitlin Krier, Associate Director of Community Partnerships, about LA’s Promise’s journey in becoming certified.
Tell us more about LAP! How does your organization engage volunteers?
Our mission is to graduate every student attending an LA’s Promise neighborhood school college and career ready. Through a robust school turnaround model, LA’s Promise partners with a cadre of schools committed to ensuring that students growing up in poverty receive an excellent education.
Something cool thing about LA’s Promise is that we have so many different ways for volunteers to get involved in our work. I believe in the idea that students are more likely to succeed when their schools are community hubs, and in order for that to work, we need to bring in folks from the community who are willing to share their skills, passions and resources with the students who need them. Volunteers can do everything from helping plant trees in our teaching gardens to leading workshops on post-secondary options to connecting students with internship opportunities at their companies. Since we’ve started this Service Enterprise work, we’ve been able to open up new volunteer opportunities as well, such as speaking at our middle school career day and helping secure in-kind donations for all of our school programs. We have also begun working with several university service groups to engage college students in leading activities such as college workshops and college fairs for our middle school students.
How has Service Enterprise benefited your org?
One big change has been with how we run events, especially those that fall on the weekends. Instead of begging our staff to come out and help, we are able to work with an amazing cohort of volunteers who are excited to participate and be a part of these events! Since weekends are usually better for volunteer availability, this has been a great match.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of this certification journey?
For me, the most rewarding part of the journey has been the process of self reflection and pushing ourselves to build service enterprise into everything we do. It was really cool to build a volunteer tracking and orientation plan from scratch, and to see those things be realized, especially our first volunteer orientation in February. We went from having a couple of volunteers to an entire database of people that we can call upon to help with projects and events throughout the year.
What are some tips/advice you would give other organizations that are thinking about Service Enterprise/are already going through the process?
My advice would be to not worry about your volunteer program needing to look a certain way. The self reflection piece is really key, because you’re able to hold onto the core values and vibe of your organization while enhancing it. We are never going to have 200 volunteers donating their time every week at LA’s Promise, and that’s okay! We have been creative about how volunteers can become an intricate part of who we are as an organization.
We are honored to award them with this accomplishment, and we are looking forward to seeing all the amazing work they continue to do with their volunteers!