Alliance for Children and Families Awards $2.5 Million to Elevate Role of Strategy in Nonprofits

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Fourteen nonprofit organizations will serve as pilot sites for enhancing capacity to better serve communities due to awards from the Alliance for Children and Families. The pilot sites have been awarded a total of $2.5 million in grants.

The Alliance for Children and Families ( has chosen 14 nonprofit organizations to participate in a pilot project that will explore, test, and develop an understanding of the elevation of strategy within nonprofit human service organizations. The pilot sites have been awarded a total of $2.5 million in grants.

The Alliance, headquartered in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's largest membership associations of private, nonprofit human service organizations.

The Alliance launched Strategy Counts—a multi-year pilot project dedicated to elevating the role of strategy within nonprofit human service organizations—in May 2011 with a $5.375 million grant from The Kresge Foundation. The majority of funds will be re-granted to Alliance members.

Through a competitive selection process, the Alliance chose 14 of its member organizations to participate as pilot sites. These organizations will either hire a chief strategy officer or implementing a transformational project.

“Because nonprofits are under pressure from changing client needs and reduced resources, the tendency is to focus on day-to-day demands, while strategic decisions take a back seat,” said Michael Mortell, director of Strategy Counts. “The pilot sites are exploring how a strategic focus increases positive results for communities and clients.”

The pilot projects are designed to align and integrate the organizations’ key functions with a coherent view and plan for the future. Through the Strategy Counts grants, nonprofits will identify and evaluate ways to anticipate emerging market forces and adapt strategies to meet those changes, all in order to ultimately improve the lives of children and families.

Nine Alliance members will receive an average of $231,000 over a 3-year period. These funds will be used to hire a full-time chief strategy officer:

  •     Heartland Family Service, Omaha, NE
  •     Holy Family Institute, Pittsburgh, PA
  •     Hopelink, Redmond, WA
  •     Leake & Watts Services, Yonkers, NY
  •     Neighborhood Centers Inc., Houston, TX
  •     Public Health Management Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
  •     The Opportunity Alliance, South Portland, ME
  •     The Village Network, Smithville, OH
  •     Volunteers of America of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Each organization has committed to matching the grant amount during the project time period. The chief strategy officer will be charged with advancing and deploying strategy within his or her agency and with guiding the organization toward meeting its mission to achieve positive outcomes for clients and communities.

Five Alliance members will receive $100,000 over 18-24 months. These funds will be used to implement a transformational project:

  •     St. Joseph’s Villa, Rochester, NY
  •     Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Sarasota, FL
  •     The Children’s Village, Dobbs Ferry, NY
  •     Starr Commonwealth, Albion, MI
  •     Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, Pasadena, CA

Each organization also has committed to matching a portion of the grant amount. Transformational projects will serve as catalysts for efforts to expand an organization’s long-term view, align operations to the core mission of the organization, bring a more proactive approach to decision making, and increase client and community impact.

The 14 Alliance member agencies participating as Strategy Counts pilot sites will test how the elevation of strategy affects the ability of nonprofit human service organizations to adapt to changing market forces, including the needs of populations served. The pilot projects also will contribute a new depth of understanding about the role of strategy in nonprofit organization that share a mission to improve the lives of children and families.

More information:

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations by creating access and opportunity in underserved communities, improving the health of low-income people, supporting artistic expression, increasing college achievement, assisting in the revitalization of Detroit, and advancing methods for dealing with global climate change. The foundation works in six program areas: arts and culture, community development, education, the environment, health, and human services. In 2010, the Board of Trustees approved 481 awards totaling $158 million; $134 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. For more information, visit

The Alliance for Children and Families, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011, is a nonprofit national membership association of private, nonprofit human service providers in the United States and Canada. Motivated by a vision of a healthy society and strong communities, the Alliance strengthens the capacities of North America’s nonprofit child- and family-serving organizations to serve and advocate for children, families, and communities. The more than 350 members of the Alliance provide an array of community-based programs and services to all generations, serving close to 3.4 million people each year. The Alliance is accredited by the Council on Accreditation. More information about the Alliance is available at


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