Praxis Partnership

Applications Due Wednesday, February 15, 2023, by 5 pm.

Praxis is a year-long, customized Partnership designed for small nonprofits (typically with budgets ranging from $250K – $1M) that are working to transform the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing poverty in Washington, DC. The Partnership focuses on strengthening leadership and organizational systems across four or more of the following areas: Board Development, Financial Management, Fundraising, Human Resources, Leadership & Management, Outreach & Communications, Planning & Strategy, and Program Evaluation.

Since 2002, 113 community-based nonprofits in Washington, DC, have strengthened their sustainability, growth, and impact by participating in Fair Chance’s flagship program, the Praxis Partnership.

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Partnership Impact

Hear what more of our graduates say about the Praxis Partnership on our Stories of Impact page.

Praxis Partnership Overview

In the Partnership, the Executive Director works with a Fair Chance Capacity Building Specialist to envision and create or improve infrastructure and processes that strengthen the organization’s sustainability, leadership, and growth.

Orientation

Orientation

The Praxis Partnership starts with a group orientation designed to prepare you for the Partnership and to learn more about Fair Chance and the other Praxis Partner organizations.

Celebration

Celebration

Your hard work and capacity building accomplishments are celebrated at an event after the partnership is completed.

Organizational Assessment

Organizational Assessment

Using Fair Chance’s assessment designed for small nonprofits, your Capacity Building Specialist develops an understanding of your organization’s strengths, challenges, and goals in the following areas: Board Development, Financial Management, Fundraising, Human Resources, Leadership & Management, Outreach & Communications, Planning & Strategy, and Program Evaluation.

Post-Partnership Evaluation

Post-Partnership Evaluation

On an annual basis, for five years after completing your partnership, you will be asked to complete a survey designed to measure the Partnership impact overtime.

Partnership Work

Partnership Work

A Partnership work plan is co-created based on quantitative and qualitative assessment results. You and your Capacity Building Specialist work together on a weekly basis to achieve mutually agreed upon goals and objectives. See FAQ below to learn more about Partnership time commitments.

Post-Partnership Support

Post-Partnership Support

As a Praxis Alumni, your organization will have access to resources and capacity building support through Fair Chance’s Network Services Program.

To find out if the Praxis Partnership is right for your organization, please sign up for a Partnership Consultation with a member of our DC Program team

Praxis 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 Praxis Partnership, Fair Chance works selectively across these areas based on the strengths and needs of each nonprofit.
BOARD DEVELOPMENT

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
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Smart financial planning practices that enable leaders to know how much money is needed, raised, and spent are essential for good nonprofit management. Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • develop sound budget practices
  • create and utilize financial tracking tools and internal controls
  • design policies and procedures manuals
  • draft financial reporting templates
FUNDRASING

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
HUMAN RESOURCES

Staff and volunteers are often a nonprofit’s most valuable assets, which makes having the proper support, recognition, and accountability systems a critical factor for success. Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • create or upgrade personnel manuals
  • establish effective supervisory practices, including employee performance appraisals
  • optimize staffing structures
  • strengthen staff and volunteer recruitment, hiring, orientation, and training practices
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT

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:

  • create positive work environments
  • foster constructive working relationships between the Executive Director and Board Chair
  • develop strategies for major transitions and organizational changes
  • evolve Executive Director leadership skills as the organization grows
OUTREACH & COMMUNICATIONS

In this time of information overload, nonprofits need to be able to effectively inform and engage the community. Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • create comprehensive outreach and communication plans
  • clarify target audiences and key messages
  • refine tools, including websites, brochures, and newsletters
  • utilize program results in sharing success stories
PLANNING & STRATEGY

Having a clear vision, mission, and strategy keeps everyone focused and working together to achieve common goals. Fair Chance typically works with leaders to:

  • develop annual goals and operational plans
  • design tools to monitor progress toward goals
  • revise mission and vision statements
PROGRAM EVALUATION

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

Praxis Partnership FAQs

What is the time commitment required to participate in the Praxis Partnership?

The Executive Director is expected to devote eight hours per week to the Praxis Partnership, spending at least two of those hours meeting with their Capacity Building Specialist (CBS).

  • For example, when working in the fundraising capacity building area, an Executive Director may meet with their CBS for 2 hours to review fundraising work or dive deeper into fundraising concepts and practices, and then may spend up to 6 hours working independently on drafting a fundraising plan, communicating with donors, or working on a grant proposal template.
  • Executive Directors cannot delegate weekly Partnership meetings, but additional staff may be asked to participate in specific projects as needed.

The Board Chair’s participation can range from 1 to 8 hours per month, depending upon agreed upon work plan goals. The Board Chair is expected to: participate in the Praxis Partnership Orientation, board development assessment, review of the assessment and workplan; serve as the liaison between the CBS and the Board of Director; and ensure and coordinate active board participation in partnership work, as needed.

The Board Chair can appoint another Board Member to handle Praxis Partnership responsibilities, provided that the Board Member is:

  • familiar with how the Board currently does its work, and the Board’s strengths, challenges, and goals
  • has the time and authority to work in partnership with the CBS to create tools, processes, and systems for the Board to use in doing its work
    If another Board Member is appointed, then a plan to keep the Board Chair informed throughout the Partnership will be devised. Note: The Board Chair must complete a form

In turn, Fair Chance Capacity Building Specialists devote 8 to 10 hours per week to each partner organization.

“It was difficult to find the time. Initially, it was mind-boggling to think of how I was going to find the time. But I had a very good partner in my Capacity Building Specialist who helped me make it all work. And it is hard work. I needed a desire to want to do this and to dig deep into myself and my organization… but it soon became part of my normal schedule.” – 2020 Partner Executive Director

How much does the Praxis Partnership cost?
To ensure small nonprofits, that are often under-resourced relative to their impact potential, have access to high quality capacity building support, Fair Chance’s DC Partnerships are free of charge. The Praxis Partnership is free, but does require a significant investment of the Executive Director and Board of Director’s time and effort. (See FAQ about time commitment)
Will the Praxis Partnership be virtual or in-person?
It will be virtual, with occasional in-person or hybrid meetings, depending on individual health and safety needs of our staff and partners. During the Partnership meetings, regardless of virtual or in-person, the expectation is that Executive Directors, Board Members, and Capacity Building Specialists will be able to see and be seen, edit, and share documents to work together in real time and be in locations where confidential or sensitive issues can be openly discussed.
How does Fair Chance's assessment work?

The Praxis Partnership assessment provides an opportunity to reflect and explore nonprofit management practices; helps determine the focus of the Partnership work plan; and serves as the way we measure short-term changes in organizational capacity. At the start of the Partnership, the assessment is administered by your Capacity Building Specialist (CBS) over eight 2-hour sessions with the Executive Director, and one 2-hour session with the Board Chair. Your Capacity Building Specialist also reviews organizational documents shared by the Executive Director. At the end of the Partnership, the Executive Director completes the assessment again, independently, and your Capacity Building Specialist shares and discusses the preliminary results.

I have more questions. Is there someone I can speak with directly?

Yes! Please sign up for a Partnership Consultation and you can meet by zoom or phone with a member of our DC Program Team.

Application Information

Eligibility

To be considered for a Praxis Partnership, applicants must have:

  • A current tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • A mission, or at least one program, that addresses specific needs of children, youth, and families experiencing poverty in Washington, DC
  • A need for stronger leadership, practices, policies, or tools in at least four capacity building areas
  • At least one program serving children, youth, and families experiencing poverty in Washington DC that has been running for a year or longer and will continue running the year following the Partnership.
  • An Executive Director who has held the position for at least one year and intends to remain in the position for the duration of the Partnership
  • An Executive Director who can commit 8 hours a week during the Partnership to capacity building work, including a weekly two-hour meeting with a Capacity Building Specialist held during Fair Chance business hours (9 am – 6 pm)
  • A Board of Directors made up of at least five members, with a Board Chair who is not the Executive Director
Priority consideration is given to organizations:

  1. where at least 50% of the children, youth, and families served are Washington, DC residents who are experiencing poverty, and/or
  2. that are led by people of color (i.e., either the Executive Director or a majority of the members of the Board of Directors, including the Board Chair, self-identify as POC)

Our priority considerations reflect our commitment to our mission and to advancing racial equity in DC’s nonprofit sector. We consider a number of variables when selecting partners, including your capacity building needs; your programs; your availability to engage in Partnership work; and our staffing capacity and expertise. Organizations that do not meet these priority considerations are still eligible and encouraged to apply.

Application Process

  • Application: Nonprofits interested in a Praxis Partnership must complete an online application providing information about the organization, programs, participants, leadership, capacity building needs, and finances. The Board Chair must also complete a one page form that articulates the board’s vision for growth. When submitting an application, organizations are asked to select and save the date for second round interviews. Applications due Wednesday February 15, 2023, at 5pm.
  • Interviews: Organizations that advance to the second stage in the partner selection process participate in two interviews. In the first interview, the Executive Director and Board Chair meet with at least two members of Fair Chance’s Partnership selection team for two hours. The second interview is a one-hour phone interview for the Executive Director and members of the selection team.
  • Notification & Feedback: Applicants are notified by mid-May. Applicants that do not receive a Partnership will be given the opportunity to get feedback on their application. Selected applicants may also receive a two-hour capacity building session to receive coaching, thought Partnership, and resources related to a specific organizational challenge.

Application Tips and FAQs