In 2006, the Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy (LNLA) was created by TCLI as part of a broader social change strategy to achieve more equitable access to opportunity for Latino families and children. As the Latino population in the United States continues to increase dramatically, so did the need for Latino- led and serving organizations to provide greater levels of educational, cultural, health, housing, legal, family and child services, that are accessible to ever more diverse groups of Latinos. At the onset of LNLA, Latino nonprofit leaders required extra levels of support to bolster the sustainability of their organizations and to provide Latino communities with effective programs and services. Today, many Latino community-based organizations are well positioned to lead critical equity and social justice movements as well as encourage grassroots civic engagement. The LNLA model was based on the belief that strong and robust Latino nonprofits play important roles in both service delivery and advocacy arenas.
Each state-specific LNLA was designed to support emerging and existing leaders of Latino-led and serving organizations as they worked to grow their organizations by moving them to the next levels of performance, excellence, sustainability and impact. By preparing leaders to strengthen the capacities of their organizations, TCLI contributed to the enhanced ability of Latino nonprofits to move people and places out of poverty.
LNLA goals were to: (a) close significant capacity-building needs not covered by traditional leadership development intermediaries; (b) introduce most current, state-of-the-art thinking about nonprofit leadership and management; (c) reinforce expertise, sustainability and magnitude of scale among Latino nonprofits; (d) connect and strengthen the ability of local Latino nonprofits to develop cross-collaboration to impact on statewide systemic change; (e) augment data-collection and data analysis competencies; and (f) support Latino nonprofits’ evolution as standard bearers of excellence.
While each Academy has intentional cultural grounding, overall capacity-building themes included: individual leadership development including critical thinking; smart goals and strategic planning; organizational development focusing on board and staff training as well as the enhancement of internal fiscal and management systems; facility improvements or expansion; program design; fundraising plans; metrics and evaluation. Equity and advocacy overlays were tailored to the specific requests and needs of Latino communities in a particular state. In Minnesota and Louisiana, for example, participants drafted a comprehensive Latino Equity Agenda, while in Washington, the focus is Environmental Justice. Participants were tooled up with best practices yielding insights into effective language, methodology, community engagement, connectivity and other process. The Academy model educated participants about state and national equity work. Participants were encouraged to expand their world views outside of insular Latino communities including collaboration with leaders of color from other diverse communities to maximize problem-solving and innovative change.
A total of 10-20 Latino-led and serving nonprofits participated in each Academy depending on the level of committed funding. Organizations responded to a “Call for Applications.” Applications were then reviewed by a 5-member Selection Committee comprised of Latino professionals familiar with the state’s Latino nonprofit sector as well as challenges and issues confronting Latino communities.
Each twelve-month outcomes-oriented Academy consisted of three 2 ½-day Workshops held at Retreat Centers; on-site technical assistance visits, conducted by the TCLI staff-consultant team, to each participating organization in between Workshops; distance learning; peer-to-peer consulting; and coaching by seasoned Latino professionals. TCLI assembled a culturally relevant team of experienced and highly regarded Latino nonprofit leaders to encourage maximum benefit to every leader and to each organization.
The Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academies were delivered in North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Louisiana. The most recent one, the Washington LNLA, is occurred in 2014-2015.
The LNLA alum network, now 1000+ members, continues to convene on cross-cutting equity and social justice action.