UIC DELIVERS NONPROFIT CERTIFICATE PROGRAM ONLINE
Beginning this fall, the University of Illinois at Chicago's Great Cities Institute will offer an online professional certificate management program to nonprofit professionals across the country. Harnessing distance-learning technology with the power of the Internet, the new Web-based program will allow busy nonprofit practitioners to update their skills without ever setting foot inside a classroom.
"With this flexible online delivery system, UIC can offer quality education to the professionals who run the nonprofit organizations that are truly the backbone of community development work today," said Wim Wiewel, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, which houses the Great Cities Institute, a research institute that specializes in urban issues and civic engagement.
One of only a handful of certificate programs entirely online, the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program will provide participants with management skills in order to be more effective in the professional workplace. The flexible, anytime-anywhere instructional model allows participants to do assignments, confer with instructors and work with others at times that are most convenient for them.
"We identified an educational gap not being filled by universities or traditional management support organizations that provide workshops and training seminars," explained Kate Pravera, chief designer and director of the CNM program. "We're bringing the academic quality that UIC is known for together with our knowledge of the nonprofit sector, and bridging the two worlds in cyberspace."
The CNM program, a series of six five-week noncredit courses, concentrates on applied knowledge. Any of the program's six courses can be taken on a stand-alone basis. To earn a certificate, participants must take all six courses: Strategic Management; the Nonprofit Board of Directors; Operations Management; Financial Management; Fundraising Management; and Marketing Management.
And, because the courseware is completely online, CNM participants can access class discussions 24 hours a day. An interactive Web site provides access to online discussions with instructors and peers. "All the reading material is Web-based," Pravera said. "You get interactive learning, not self-study."
Pravera, founder and former executive director with the Chicago Community Loan Fund, said flexible Internet technology has made this training more accessible and more realistic in today's world.
"One of the problems in the past was that there was never any one organized place you could get practical skills and training to be effective in the nonprofit workplace. Also, the time commitment to pursue an advanced degree, for many, is insurmountable," Pravera said. "We intentionally chose not to be a graduate program to be more accessible to a larger number of individuals who need these skills."
According to the Independent Sector Nonprofit Information Center, the number of nonprofit organizations - including most tax-exempt organizations and churches - has grown more than 25 percent over the past 10 years to a total of 1.1 million organizations and congregations. Not only have nonprofits grown, they've become more complex to manage, Pravera said, presenting a host of obstacles.
"A nonprofit today must generate funds from as many different sources as possible to survive," she said. "As a result, they're managing more people and money, and they require more administrative skills."
Pravera and her staff launched the pilot course this summer, attracting a diverse group of participants from as far away as Oakland, Calif., and Knoxville, Tenn. Formal CNM classes start October 2000.
Instructors for the CNM courses are all seasoned, nonprofit managers and UIC faculty. In addition to Pravera, other instructors are Mary Heidkamp, former codirector of the Archdiocesan Office for the Ministry of Peace and Justice and a columnist for New World magazine, and Jean Pogge, senior vice president of South Shore Bank, who manages the National Funding Group, a unit of Shorebank.
"This course is structured around everything I wish I knew at the beginning of my career that I had to learn the hard way," Pravera said. "The thing that will drive most students to enroll in the CNM courses is the belief that they will do a better job leading their organizations if they take this program."
For detailed information and full instructions on enrolling in the CNM program, see the CNM Web site at http://cnm.cuppa.uic.edu or call (312) 996-5167.
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