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UCF Awarded $1 Million Grant to Help Nonprofits Promote Economic Recovery

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By Karen Guin

Local nonprofit organizations serving communities hit hard by the recession will benefit from a new $1 million federal stimulus grant awarded to the University of Central Florida. 

UCF's Center for Public and Nonprofit Management will improve the ability of nonprofits to provide services and promote the economic recovery of people with low incomes thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UCF is the only institution in Florida to receive an award from the department's Strengthening Communities Fund.

The Strengthening Communities in Central Florida Program will target nonprofits in west Orange, south Lake and south Sumter counties. Both secular and faith-based nonprofits in these county regions will be eligible to apply for management training and technical and financial assistance offered by the center.

"We'll focus on communities where there are high rates of unemployment and poverty," said Naim Kapucu, the center's director and principal investigator for the grant. "We want to empower nonprofits in these areas to help individuals secure and retain employment, earn higher wages, obtain better jobs, and gain greater access to state and federal benefits and tax credits."

Over the next two years, the center will provide training to 80 nonprofits in five critical areas: organizational development, program development, collaboration and community engagement, leadership development, and evaluation of effectiveness. Twenty of these nonprofits also will receive extensive one-on-one assistance in strategic planning, financial management, and human resources policies and procedures, as well as an average of $30,000 in financial assistance.

"The nonprofits receiving financial assistance will be counseled to make investments that improve their efficiency and capacity," Kapucu said. "We want to promote healthy financial practices."

The program is a natural extension of training and assistance programs completed by the center's faculty, staff and graduate students over the past six years, Kapucu added. "We've already worked with more than 159 small nonprofit organizations across UCF's 11-county service area, all of which exhibited growth in their budget; numbers of staff, volunteers and clients; and sustainability," he said. "This new program is a perfect fit with the capacity building mission of the Center for Public Nonprofit Management."

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