Starting a non-profit enterprise?

Caribbean entrepreneurs are finding a home at Medgar Evers College Adult and Continuing Education (ACE), which offers the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program. The certificate program is comprised of seven courses ranging from grant-writing to nonprofit governance and is open to everyone.

The program is gearing up for the next certificate class, which will start in June 2011.

According to the program’s founder and lead instructor, Leah Goodridge, approximately 40 percent of the students (former and current) are starting nonprofits in the Caribbean.

Caribbean nonprofits face additional challenges in raising money and building a solid infrastructure due to the region’s developing economies. Nonprofits play a critical role in providing social services to residents on Caribbean islands. For example, when the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, hundreds of nonprofits were formed to manage disaster relief, provide supplies and house victims. In addition, global citizens assisted victims of the earthquake by donating millions of dollars to nonprofits, entrusting these organizations with their support in exchange for a promise to take action to help Haiti.

The students of the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program learn nonprofit law, public relations, and community-building concepts over the course of three months. By the culmination of the program, students will have created their own brochures, newsletters, mini-business plan and sample grant proposal for their nonprofits.

Gloria Rennie, who is starting GRENCAP United, a nonprofit which assists the needy in Grenada, Petit and Carriacou, said the course, Starting and Running a Nonprofit helped her to put things into perspective. “I gained valuable information about resources, networking, grant writing, helpful links and free informative webinars, and most importantly, how to incorporate and file the 501(c)3.” Rennie is a native of Grenada, and discovered the program through a friend who had previously enrolled in a class in the program.

Lynda Watson, who is a student in the program and a native of Barbados says the program provided her with the tools to start her nonprofit—one of the few hospice centers in Barbados. “It has given me the needed information on how to go about securing necessary funding to make the project a success, as it will be the only entity of that caliber in Barbados at the moment.”