Pathways Partnership

Pathways is an 8-month Partnership for small nonprofits (typically with budgets between $50K-$250K) that deepens nonprofit leaders’ knowledge and skills across four key areas of an organization (Board Development, Fundraising, Leadership & Management, and Program Evaluation) and provides tools and support to advance the organization’s mission, stability, and growth.

In the Partnership, the Executive Director and a member of the Board of Directors work in collaboration with a Capacity Building Specialist to:

  • cultivate a culture of continuous learning and improvement
  • explore and define elements of a strong organization
  • design and implement foundational infrastructure and processes that are well-aligned with both organizational values and individual leadership styles

Applications for the next Pathways cohort will be available in Spring 2025. Stay updated by signing up for our mailing list.

“I was at an impasse as an executive director and founder…I knew our mission was needed but I just had all of these ingredients that I couldn’t quite figure out the recipe. Fair Chance was that affirmation to keep going and here are the tools to help you do that.”

— Latoya Lewis, Executive Director, EnventU

Pathways Partnership Overview

The Pathways Partnership is a free, virtual program that runs from October to May. Click on each piece of the puzzle to learn more details about the Pathways Partnership.

Cohort Orientation & Workshop:

The Pathways Partnership starts with a group orientation designed to prepare you for the Partnership and to learn more about Fair Chance, the other cohort partner organizations, and their Executive Directors and Board Representatives. During the Partnership, there is one workshop based on the cohort’s collective needs.


Leadership Development:

Executive Directors participate in cohort-based leadership development activities, including a leadership style assessment and a multi-session discussion group.


Organizational Assessment:

The organizational assessment provides an opportunity to reflect, explore, and learn more about nonprofit management practices; helps determine the focus of the Partnership work plan; and serves as a guide to measure short-term changes in organizational capacity.

Leadership Development:

A Partnership work plan is co-created based on the assessment results. You and your Capacity Building Specialist work together to achieve goals and objectives in two of the Pathways Partnership capacity building areas. See Application FAQs to learn more about Partnership time commitments.



Your hard work and capacity building accomplishments are celebrated at the end of the Partnership with the broader Fair Chance community.


During and throughout the year following completion of the program, you will complete surveys designed to measure the Partnership’s impact.


Organizational Assessment:

As a Pathways Alumni, your organization will have access to resources and capacity building support through Fair Chance’s Network Services Program. You can also apply for the Praxis Partnership when you need to engage in another intensive capacity building effort.

Pathways Partnership Capacity Building Areas

Based on research and Fair Chance’s years of experience, the following organizational competencies serve as the foundation upon which we build strong nonprofits. In our Pathways Partnership, Fair Chance works selectively across these areas based on the strengths and needs of each nonprofit.


A Board of Directors with the right mix of people and skill sets can be a tremendous benefit in furthering the organization’s mission. Whether a board is new, seasoned, or somewhere in between, Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • ensure members understand their roles and responsibilities
  • foster a culture of philanthropy on the Board
  • develop new member recruitment strategies
  • strengthen facilitation and planning of Board meetings and retreats

Every nonprofit could have a greater impact with more resources. Based on an organization’s fundraising needs and strengths, Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • diversify and solidify funding bases
  • develop effective grant proposals and donor appeals
  • create comprehensive fundraising plans
  • build systems to identify, track, and monitor funding sources
  • design strategies to communicate and work with the donor community
Leaders working in small community based nonprofits need to be both strategic and hands-on in ensuring their organizational culture and practices are effective across the organization in order to advance their mission, support stability, and foster sustainability and growth. Fair Chance typically works with leaders in this area to:

  • align key organizational planning, budgeting, and financial management processes
  • complete a jobs analysis of the Executive Director and other key roles
  • implement key organizational risk processes

Nonprofits provide vital services, but need to have clarity, good measurement tools, and evaluation systems in order to ensure that their services are producing intended results. Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • create an evaluation plan, including outcomes and indicators
  • align mission/vision and outcomes
  • develop a theory of change and/or logic models
  • communicate evaluation results to key funders and other stakeholders

Ideal Partners

Our ideal partners seek to deepen their impact; serve more children, youth, and families; and take their leadership and organizations to the next level. Now may be a good time for a Pathways Partnership if:

You are looking for coaching, thought-partnership, nonprofit management expertise, and support tailored to your needs and learning style, but have a shortage of financial resources to allocate towards this work

Your organization has the time, people power, and organizational resources to invest in capacity building

You want to be connected and contribute to a strong community of local nonprofit leaders united in making Washington, DC more equitable

Your organization is a small nonprofit that addresses the needs of children, youth, and families in communities impacted by discrimination, racism, and poverty in Washington, DC


100% of Executive Directors have a greater sense of clarity about how they want to build their organization

100% of Executive Directors reported increased confidence in their ability to adapt successfully to challenges

“My greatest take away from the Pathways Partnership is the invaluable resource of connection. Starting from our Cohort’s Leadership discussion group to our group text messages for support and resources, the partnership has provided a treasure of knowledge, and created a firmer footing for myself, our board, and our organization. We are now getting down to the nitty gritty of the work involved to create a sustainable, even longer lasting, efficient nonprofit organization with the ability to make a greater impact over the next 30 years.”
— Kimberly Gaines, Executive Director, East of the River Boys and Girls Steelband, Pathways Graduate

“The entire Fundraising work was beyond helpful. Through the partnership, I learned the various types of fundraising for organizations and how to build a calendar that helps to backward map, chunk, and assign tasks amongst our newly developed Finance committee.”
— Shaundranetta Wood, Executive Director, Math Speaks, Pathways Graduate

“The Board Chair role is not for the faint of heart. It comes with tremendous responsibilities. After having completed the Pathways Partnership, I am most proud of going from the place of being someone who really had no concept of what it is to Chair a Board to leading with confidence from having acquired an informed knowledge base of the actual Board Chair duties and responsibilities, clarity of what constitutes board governance, understanding the distinction between Executive Director and Board duties and responsibilities, and functioning without encroaching on the Executive Director’s territory.” — Pathways Partner Board Representative

Interested in applying for the Pathways Partnership?