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York College of PA earns THRIVE grant for program to equip local nonprofits with mentor, understanding of data, preparation for seeking grants

August 18, 2023
Headshot of Dionna Wright Urban Collaborative

York College of Pennsylvania received a THRIVE grant from the York County Community Foundation (YCCF) to implement a program designed to equip local nonprofits with mentorship, a better understanding of data, and preparation for seeking grants. 

THRIVE grants are part of the YCCF’s Fund for York County, which is designed to build economic mobility for people from low-income socioeconomic backgrounds. The Fund is focused on supporting the community’s most pressing issues through programs in the areas of housing, career development, transportation, childcare, and financial literacy.

The College received $15,000 from the Fund for York County to support its Grassroots Growth Initiative Curriculum Program, which has also received funding from the YCCF’s Women’s Giving Circle and the Powder Mill Foundation. 

The Grassroots Growth Initiative Curriculum Program began with community conversations with residents and other stakeholders, such as funders and organizational leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, according to Dionna Wright, former Director of Community Conversations and now Director of the Urban Collaborative at York College. Using design-thinking principles, Wright and those she talked with then began to synthesize and generate insights from those conversations. In September 2022, those involved with the project and York College students created prototypes related to insights gathered. That session led to a number of prototypes, including the Grassroots Growth Initiative. 

Wright then wrote an 11-session curriculum focused on increasing capacity for grassroots organizations. The sessions, taught by community members who are content experts in their field, began earlier this summer and four have been completed. 

The series examines the question: What is the point of data and tracking it?

“Data should be used to spur action,” Wright said. “Our goal is giving local organizations the language to be able to use targeted data to identify gaps and work toward sustainable outcomes and community change. We are also helping organizations tell their story and their impact. All of this is in preparation for writing grants and continuing – and potentially scaling ­– the important work they are already doing.”

The three nonprofits currently participating in the Grassroots Growth Initiative are the Group Violence Initiative, Pedal for Peace, and Union Lutheran Church

Each organization is partnered with a mentor who is a nonprofit leader in the community. In addition to teaching them the curriculum, the Grassroots Growth Initiative assists with writing a grant to be awarded in November at the end of the program. “Writing the grant, practice in real-time, is part of the program. Each organization will be awarded one,” Wright said. 

How will the success of the program be measured? 

York College Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science/Sociology Dr. Amanda Rich and her Social Programs Evaluation class did a pre-study survey on the organizations, and they will conduct one post-study to determine what shifts have taken place, according to Wright. 

"We have such a generous and philanthropic community,” she said. “The hope is that through this program, participating organizations will also expand their funding options and sources. We believe this is an important path toward organizational sustainability and are happy to be part of an amazing York community, working together to make this a reality."