United Way of San Diego County Partners with The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego and Clare Rose Foundation to Host Virtual Board Service Certification Program


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Ann Marie Price

Scatena Daniels

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Photos and assets courtesy of United Way of San Diego County

Program helps community leaders leverage their unique skills, to enhance nonprofit boards in an ever-changing world; March 2021 cohort will focus on Creative Youth Development organizations

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 10, 2021) — During this challenging year, community organizations everywhere have pivoted plans or closed their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, organizations that support Creative Youth Development have seen much change with classrooms going virtual and extracurricular activities not able to resume. From theatre groups to music to dance and many more, arts and culture youth organizations are struggling. Starting March 9 through April 20, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) in partnership with The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego and sponsored by Clare Rose Foundation, will host a seven-week virtual training cohort for their Board Service Certification Program, and will focus on organizations that work in Creative Youth Development.

Why arts and culture organizations need strong boards

Program participants will not only learn the traditional curriculum, but also learn about the unique opportunities and challenges faced by community organizations that support youth in reaching their full potential through deep arts learning and positive adult mentorships. These organizations work holistically to develop youth and the communities they live in, educate and activate youth voices, provide mental health and wellness services, and fight for racial and social justice through art, music, dance, theater, and much more.

According to University of San Diego‘s 2020 Annual Report: State of Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis have been more profound in the arts and culture subsector than among other nonprofits. In addition to a reported loss in revenue due to closures and program cancellations, arts and culture organizations have also seen a decline in individual donations. Also, arts and culture organizations have reported a 40 percent decrease in demand for services while 69 percent of human services nonprofits have experienced an increase in demand.

“Clare Rose Foundation strives to build the capacity of Creative Youth Development organizations and their leaders through grantmaking and an array of programs and services,” says Matt D’Arrigo, Director of Creative Youth Development, Clare Rose Foundation. “Strong and diverse boards are critical to an organization’s success in achieving its mission. It’s also one of the hardest capacities to build, especially for small community-based arts organizations. We are honored to partner with UWSD and USD to provide this incredible opportunity for our Creative Youth Development partners in the community.”

Now more than ever, Creative Youth Development organizations are in need of innovative leadership to help advance a strong community. This upcoming cohort will offer an exciting opportunity for current and aspiring board members with a personal interest in the arts to serve targeted nonprofits in need of specific areas of expertise.

Ensuring the success of effective, diverse boards

Effective, diverse boards can strengthen a nonprofit organization in many ways, including providing valuable advice, resources, and community support, and most importantly assistance with fundraising. According to BoardSource, 80 percent of nonprofit board members are White although 80 percent of executives report that diversity is very important to “enhancing the organization’s standing with the general public.” In addition, women comprise only 43 percent of the membership of nonprofit boards, but that statistic drops to 33 percent when considering boards of nonprofits with incomes of $25 million or more.

“For 100 years, our organization has successfully partnered with a wide range of individuals in the private and public sectors, leveraging the time, talent, and treasure of our corporate partners to advance social impact,” says Nancy L. Sasaki, president and CEO, United Way of San Diego County. “We continue to support early childhood and youth education to reduce inequities and ensure all have the same opportunities to succeed. This time, we will develop the capacity and quality of Creative Youth Development organizations in San Diego. It’s no secret that dedicated, diverse community members can provide value and long-lasting change to a nonprofit organization. We are excited to work with local devoted and passionate professionals looking to move arts and culture boards forward.”

The most effective organizations invest in a well-developed board with leaders who are diverse in ethnicity, professional backgrounds, subject matter expertise, and cause area interests. Establishing a board like this shows that the nonprofit values creating an environment of trust, diversity, inclusion, and innovation.

Gain tools to create a more vibrant philanthropic community

Program participants learn vital skills to help them maximize their roles as board members. Not only does the program increase a board member’s impact, but also enhances their leadership skills, helps them learn about effective governance of nonprofits, and gives participants the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals and network with other community leaders. A quality nonprofit board combines its individual members’ unique talents, life experiences, and professional expertise.

“The Board Service Certification Program helped me transition from working in volunteer roles with nonprofits to a leadership role,” says Morgan Johnson,

Associate Vice President of the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning with The University of Arizona Global Campus. “Not only did I develop the competencies needed to step into a board role, but also built more confidence in myself to make a positive and impactful contribution. Following the completion of the program, United Way of San Diego County matched me with the Dreams for Change board of directors, a nonprofit that aligns with my passion, values, and one where my skillset will benefit the needs of the organization. I appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn about how to effectively serve in a board position as things shift and change during this time.”

Since UWSD focuses on aligning community partners and leveraging its corporate partnerships, the organization is well-positioned to pair certified program participants with organizations working in their area of interest that have a need for their areas of expertise. Once participants complete the program, they are awarded with a Nonprofit Board Service Certificate from the University of San Diego and UWSD will work to connect participants with nonprofits in need of board members.

“This innovative program not only helps aspiring board members seeking to advance their nonprofit governance knowledge and leadership skills, but also local organizations looking to recruit dedicated, certified volunteers,” says Laura Deitrick, Ph.D., associate director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego. “We’re proud to work alongside United Way of San Diego County to connect our program participants with nonprofits working in their area of interest that are also in need of diverse and engaged board members.”

 How to participate in the next cohort

The Nonprofit Board Service Certification cohort will be held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday morning, and requires a commitment of 2.5 hours per week “in class,” with additional discussions and readings assigned.

The application deadline for the March cohort is Feb. 23. To participate in the upcoming cohort, apply here. Upon acceptance to the program, a $1,000 program fee is due before the first training session.

UWSD works to make sure this program is accessible to all professionals looking to build skills to better the community one board at a time. As such, a select number of scholarships are available.

Potential participants can contact Carlee Chatman at 858-636-4133 or for more information on the Board Service Certification program.


For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting www.uwsd.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.