The Ally: March 2020

Special Note About COVID-19

Welcome to the March 2020 edition of The Ally. Those of us at the Alliance recognize the concern and stress brought on by COVID-19 and the disruption that has resulted from the outbreak. We are working through internal and external challenges while keeping the home fires burning so that we can continue to be a resource for nonprofits and philanthropies in our state.

For the time being, The Alliance staff will be working remotely. However, we will be available to respond to your questions, so don’t hesitate to contact us. Updates on the COVID-19 situation will posted daily on our website at www.alliancems.org/covid-19.

We are pleased to bring you this newsletter celebrating the leadership and service of women during Women’s History Month. Be safe and well.

March is Women’s History Month—a time when we acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions women have made to the country and the world.  And as I reflect on those contributions, my mind takes me to the oft-cited quote coined by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Growing up in the South and being the only girl with two older sibling brothers, it was expected, or shall I say mandated that I be a “well-behaved” girl: be compliant, quiet and don’t cause a scene.  But as I’ve grown personally and professionally, this expectation has seemingly clashed with the core of who I am.

Over the past few years, I’ve been challenged by mentors, friends and colleagues to step beyond my boundaries, take more risks and grow as a leader. This in turn has forced me to find my way and my voice. I’ve learned through a journey of self-discovery to identify my motivation—the voice that gets me out of bed each day, ready to take on the world, and that is my true call to leadership—authentic leadership.

An authentic leader has come to understand their passion and their purpose.  That purpose is many times driven by their life story. I can recall many times as a child often feeling misunderstood and being hurt by the adults in my life. Those experiences guided me down a path to be an early childhood specialist and advocate who believes all children deserve to be respected, valued, and heard!

My experiences give meaning to my life, and the values formed from those moments became my call to action. Often, as women we try to fit into a mold created by the expectations of others, whether that is driven by our upbringing or societal norms. But I challenge us all to take the necessary steps to develop our authentic leadership.

Practice becoming more self-aware. Who is the real you? What experiences in your early years have shaped and impacted your life story? What motivates you to get up and do what you love doing every day? And what are your deeply held values and principles?

It’s when we discover who we truly are that we can lead more effectively and empower others to be leaders as well. And that is when we can change the world—well-behaved or not. Now, let’s go make history!

Ellen Collins, COO

What’s New: Conversations with Two Women Making History in Mississippi

In March of each year, we are reminded of the enormous contributions of women to our society. We celebrate women’s leadership in voting rights, arts and letters, science and medicine, social justice and equality. At the local level, women in Mississippi have been effecting change for years, but are now more engaged than ever.

We asked Ivye Allen, president of the Foundation for the Mid-South, and local attorney Wendy Mullins, a former board member of the Women’s Foundation and The Alliance, to reflect on their experience in the local nonprofit world.

Ally: Women lead 75 percent of nonprofit organizations; however, despite women possessing 51 percent of the wealth in this nation, only recently have the numbers begin to tick up for women leaders in philanthropy. As a woman leading a philanthropic organization, what kind of changes have you seen in the years you have been in a leadership role?

Ivye Allen: Including myself, there has been an increase in women leading foundations and other nonprofit organizations throughout the South as well as the nation. In addition, there is an increasing number of women of color, particularly younger leaders of color taking the helm. There is also a shift in the number of women and people of color joining boards of directors of philanthropic and other nonprofit organizations. Women with a broad cross-section of education and career disciplines are sharing their skills and knowledge throughout the state and region. This creates a network of peers that provide advice and counsel on work ideas that sometimes result in partnerships and other relationship building. But it has also created a network of lifelong friendships that exist beyond professional relationships.

Ally: Your foundation strives to increase the quality of life for those in the Mid-South through better educational opportunities, better health outcomes, and increasing economic security.  What kind of impact has the foundation had on these issues, and what do you see as challenges going forward?

IA: We have been impactful in many quality of life indicators throughout our priority states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Our partnerships including municipal leaders, school districts, faith institutions and nonprofits. We have partnered to address quality housing including single family homes, apartments, and senior assisted living facilities. Our workforce development partnerships have assisted thousands through supportive services and programmatic investments. Approximately 250 individuals have been assisted with critical employment specific certification tests such as the NCLEX for nursing.  Over 500 individuals across the community colleges have participated in the manufacturing basic skills programs and related supplemental investments. Over 1,000 people have been directly impacted by our collaborative work towards making Mississippi a Work Ready state with Work Keys testing, remediation and job profiling.

Ally: You are also on The Alliance board and lead a philanthropic group that continues to change lives for the better.  How has your affiliation with The Alliance influenced what you do?

IA:  I can honestly say, through meetings, calls, emails, or simply conversing with other members, I always identify new ideas or approaches to improve our work.  The same is stated by other staff members that have engaged in alliance programs. This is an important entity for nonprofits and philanthropy throughout the state.  We have the opportunity to engage and learn in various settings.  This contributes to consistent information that ensures our effectiveness, communication, and how we engage with nonprofit leaders and organizations that we partner.  This results in better outcomes for our partners and the communities we serve.

Ally: What inspired you to get involved in philanthropy in the Metro Jackson area?

WM: My first memory was of a “Lunch and Learn” at the Women’s Fund in the Clarion Ledger offices where the speakers discussed social issues impacting women and children. It was the first time I had really thought about harnessing the power of women to help women. Women were already running businesses, families and communities, but I came to understand that we also have the power to effect multi-generational change for underserved women and children. [Editor’s note:  That experience led to Wendy’s service on the board of the Women’s Foundation, and later, the MS Center for Nonprofits.]

Ally: What can you share from your experience on those boards?

WM: The Women’s Foundation really helped me to understand that while each contribution matters, we have more impact when we work together. [Editor’s note: This theme of collaboration and intentional partnership between nonprofits and philanthropy further emerged in Wendy’s work on the board at the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits (now The Alliance).]

It became clear over time that we needed to build a better nonprofit and philanthropic network across the state and find a more efficient way to shepherd our resources for maximum impact”. The creation of the Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy was very much a local effort, and yet we [Mississippi nonprofits and philanthropy] are trailblazers with the concept.  Now that we have The Alliance, we can really start moving the needle.  The publication Two Sides of the Same Coin illustrated to me the advantage of bringing both sides together; that teamwork and transparency can pull down the walls. The real prize in all this is the creation of an open, safe space to discuss our challenges so we can work together to solve Mississippi’s problems. [Editor’s note: More of these kinds of things are happening now and give women more opportunities than ever to make a difference.]

Wendy Mullins serves as General Counsel for Molpus Woodlands Group. A native of Dover, North Carolina, she received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her J.D. at Mississippi College School of Law.

Guaranteeing Opportunity for Children and Families

Last year Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities and board chair of The Alliance, helped launch the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, a pilot project to explore the benefits of “guaranteed income” for mothers in Jackson.

After learning about guaranteed income at a conference, Nyandoro began laying the groundwork for the pilot program—the first ever to focus on low-income Black women. Springboard teamed up with the Economic Security Project to design a program for fifteen women who received “a no strings attached, direct cash benefit”, as Nyandoro describes it, for twelve months. Springboard intentionally approached this effort with a two-generation lens, combining financial services for mothers with children’s savings accounts and social support training.

Cheryl Gray, a Magnolia Mother’s Trust participant, recalled her initial reaction to the program in an interview with the Washington Post: I can do anything? Programs like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust can help turn questions tinged with uncertainty into declarations filled with possibility, and mothers like Cheryl Gray, along with countless children and families in Mississippi, can truly believe, “I can do anything.

“These kinds of pilots are a good role for philanthropy,” said Natalie Foster, a co-chairwoman of the Economic Security Project in a New York Times opinion article about the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. “They open up the political imagination and show what’s possible.”

If you’re interested in identifying a nonprofit or philanthropic partner to develop or scale innovative programming, contact us at connect@alliancems.org.

Member Spotlight

St. Gabriel Mercy Center

Mound Bayou

Dr. Shakebra L. Young, a native of Cleveland, Mississippi, was appointed executive director of St. Gabriel Mercy Center on July 9, 2018 and is the first African American female to hold the position.

Dr. Young obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Computer Information Systems & Office Administration from Delta State University and a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Tennessee. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Human Services from Capella University. Dr. Young later obtained a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Walden University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration Degree in Human Resource Management from Delta State University.

Dr. Young served as an instructor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Mississippi and an Adjunct Professor of Social Work at the University of Memphis. She worked as the Director of Programs at Sacred Heart Southern Missions. Dr. Young is also currently a professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University.

We had the opportunity to ask Dr. Young a few questions about the impact the organization has on the community, any challenges and growth strategies and how the Alliance can assist the St. Gabriel Mercy Center (SGMC) in their operations.

Ally: How has the Mercy Center impacted the community?
SY: Partnerships with local and state agencies have given way to a stronger program-based system. Time is spent attending monthly and/or quarterly meetings with partnering agencies. These partnerships serve as a collective platform that fosters unity and commitment as agencies work collaboratively to further address the all encompassing needs of the vulnerable populations within our service region.

St. Gabriel Mercy Center stands as a beacon of light for countless vulnerable and less fortunate residents throughout Bolivar County and the surrounding areas. In 2019 alone, the Center served over 4,000 clients through its programs and services. These services include an Emergency Assistance Program, which offers food, clothing, and financial assistance, General Education Diploma Program, Senior Outreach Program, Parents as Teachers Program, Sewing Program, Volunteer Program, Summer Youth Program, Mercy Center Learning Lab, and a Thrift Store.

Ally: Do you see an opportunity for growth? And what are the biggest challenges you anticipate?
SY: When looking at program evaluation, I recognize the still much-needed effort for growth as well as the need to improve programs and services for the clients, students, residents, and the Mississippi Delta communities we serve. As we continue to broaden our scope of knowledge by developing services that foster systemic growth among individuals, families, and communities, the Mercy Center seeks to implement educational and life skills; enrichment classes geared to provide clients and residents with an opportunity to acquire the essential skills needed to become self-sufficient.

Class topics will include, but are not limited to, adult and teen parenting education, nutrition and wellness, financial planning, credit restoration, anger management, conflict resolution, self-esteem, homebuyer education, and basic computer classes. All classes will be free to clients and community residents. I foresee the biggest challenge being that of transportation. The Mississippi Delta does not have public transit, and has limited cab services, so that clients who do not have adequate transportation will experience difficulty in being able to attend classes.

Ally: What can The Alliance do better to serve organizations like yours?
SY: The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy has done an excellent job in helping to educate and enhance organizations throughout Mississippi. The workshops and webinars are very informative and have assisted St. Gabriel Mercy Center, Inc. in strengthening its overall administration and our program base.

About the SGMC

The St. Gabriel Mercy Center began in 1999 and is in Bolivar County in the community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi.  They serve the communities of Mound Bayou, Shelby, Winstonville, Renova, Merigold, Duncan and Cleveland, all of which are clustered along Highway 61 to the north and south of St. Gabriel Mercy Center.

The St. Gabriel Mercy Center is dedicated to working with organizations, programs and schools in the community with a focus on equipping and developing self-supporting, productive and successful individuals for our world.  St. Gabriel Mercy Center is a faith-based, non-profit organization with a mission; rooted in the mission of Jesus and the tradition of Mercy, St. Gabriel Mercy Center seeks to promote and participate in establishing services aimed at enhancing human dignity for residents of Bolivar County.

Nonprofit & Philanthropic News

How To Get More Black Women In Philanthropy Leadership

The median wealth of a single black woman in the U.S. is $200, compared with the median wealth of a single white man, which is $28,900, because of factors such as higher levels of debt and lower incomes. Getting more black women at the decision-making table of philanthropy is one of the ways to ensure that more philanthropic dollars and economic dollars reach the black community, especially black women. Read more here.

On Philanthropy: Funding for charities focused on women and girls in short supply

Charitable support for organizations that serve women and girls is surprisingly deficient when compared with philanthropic giving as a whole.

The Women & Girls Index, which measured giving to more than 45,000 U.S. organizations dedicated to women and girls, found that only 1.6% of all philanthropic support went to these causes — about $6.3 billion. Of this amount, 90 cents of each dollar are focused on reproductive health, leaving inadequate funding for the range of other issues affecting women and girls. Read more here.

Hub for Volunteerism, Capacity-Building, and Training

MLK National Day of Service Book Drive

The Central MS Hub for Volunteers and Nonprofits invites you to participate in its MLK National Day of Service book drive on Monday, January 20th to benefit the Institute of Southern Jewish Life’s (ISJL) 2020 Literacy Achievement Bonanza. The Central MS Hub will be accepting donations of new or gently used books for elementary students. ISJL needs over 1,000 books for their spring break literacy day camp. Participants of the camp receive free books each day!

On Monday (MLK Day),  all you have to do is drive up to Beth Israel Congregation with your books, and we will accept them from your vehicle without you leaving the driver’s seat!

Monday, January 20, 2020 at 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Beth Israel Congregation
5315 Old Canton Rd, Jackson, Mississippi

For more information, please contact Karla Edwards at (601) 968-0061 ext. 13 or karla.edwards@alliancems.org


It’s Time to Nominate an Outstanding Volunteer for a Prestigious Give Award!

The Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence (GIVE) Awards celebrates the exemplary work of Mississippi’s most dedicated citizens. This award program, presented by Volunteer Mississippi in partnership with the Governor’s Office, recognizes and honors the valuable contributions of some of Mississippi’s extraordinary citizens while inspiring others to follow their example.

NOMINATIONS ARE DUE MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2020 BY 5:00 PM

Click here to nominate someone for a GIVE Award.

New & Renewing Members of The Alliance

But God Ministries

CFL-Developmental Learning Center

Children’s Foundation of Mississippi

Cleveland Empowerment Foundation

Diabetes 411 Solutions

Earnest Security Service

Hancock County Chamber of Commerce

Historic Natchez Foundation

Lanier High School National Alumni Association

Legacy Village

Midtown Partners

Mississippi Alliance to End Suicide

Mississippi Animal Rescue League

Mississippi Center for Re-Entry

Mississippi Early Learning Alliance

Mississippi Public Health Institute

National Association of Junior Auxiliaries

Pearl River County SPCA

Reaching Beyond Ministries

The LAD Project

The Pinebelt Foundation

Women’s Foundation of Mississippi

Charlotte Allen (Individual)

Upcoming Training & Events

We are currently working to identify ways to deliver training online and will share information via email about upcoming workshops and training.

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