Member Spotlight: Communities In Schools of Benton-Franklin – Cultivating leadership by investing in nonprofit staff

Students and their families are top priority of for Communities In Schools of Benton-Franklin. This is why they invest in their staff with competitive pay and benefits and investments in professional development.

Communities In Schools brings resources and volunteers into schools to help struggling students get back on track. Their evidenced-based, Integrated Student Supports model goes beyond offering resources to students. Their people are in the schools forming sustained relationships with students and their families. Site coordinators in the schools empower students and families to navigate the system, and they walk alongside them through their journey.

Lupe Mares served as a site coordinator for two years before transitioning to Executive Director two years ago. She brings day-to-day, on-the-ground experience to the director role. When she became the organizational leader, one of the first things she did was have a discussion with the board about offering competitive salaries and benefits to their staff. The board previously wasn’t aware of all the factors around this decision, but they soon understood the financial and organizational impact of investing in the team. Happily, the board quickly got “on board” with the idea once they understood the issue.

Mares lists some of the top reasons to invest in your nonprofit staff:

  • People want to work in a place where they’re challenged, where they can grow, and where they feel like they have a future as a leader. The nonprofit sector is notorious for burnout and high turnover rate, but a nonprofit is stronger and more fiscally stable when it retains staff members.
  • By encouraging professional development, you offer staff members the ability to stay on top of current trends so they can better serve their community. Whether it’s racial equity training or learning about how to maximize impact through technology, professional development lifts all who are connected to the organization.
  • Nonprofit staff members who feel valued and appreciated are some of your best community advocates. It amplifies their ability to fundraise and explain the need and mission to the community.
  • If a nonprofit organization doesn’t invest in its staff, what message does it send to the community about your values? Nonprofits do important work, and by taking care of their staff, they win respect from the community they serve.

Communities In Schools of Benton-Franklin is only four years old and has grown rapidly, with 27 coordinators in 26 schools, in four school districts with four organization administrators. Part of a collaborative network across the state of Washington, Communities In Schools is supported by a state office and a replicable model of support. Learn more about Communities In Schools of Benton-Franklin’s work on their website and by taking a few minutes to watch this video below, about an inspiring family journey.

Communities In Schools of Benton-Franklin’s mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. They have been a member of Washington Nonprofits since 2018.

In our monthly Member Spotlight, Washington Nonprofits features members who are doing something worth sharing. It can be a best practice, implementation of a new idea, or something that may help others to tackle a challenge. Do you have a story that you would like to share? Contact us! We would love to hear from you.
About Julia Hunter 25 Articles
Julia Hunter is the Membership & Learning Coordinator at Washington Nonprofits.