National University's Sanford Institute of Philanthropy Congratulates Graduates of New Certification Program for School Foundation Leaders

April 19, 2016

Executives from 10 states complete innovative leadership certification program developed through collaboration between National School Foundation Association and National University's Sanford Institute of Philanthropy

 St. Louis, MO—Tuesday, April 19, 2016—Twelve education foundation executives from 10 states are the first to be nationally certified as leaders in one of philanthropy’s fastest-growing fields. The National School Foundation Association (NSFA), the recognized leader of the Pre K-12 education foundation movement in the United States, developed the program in collaboration with National University and its Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. The graduates are being honored during the association’s 11th annual National Conference (April 18-20) in St. Louis.

The new certification program, believed to be the only program of its type anywhere in the world, incorporates the unique expertise of San Diego-based National University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, a provider of innovative cause leadership, cause sales and fundraising strategies for nonprofits that was created with the support of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. A certificate of completion is issued from National University, the second-largest private nonprofit university in California, and the formal certification through the NSFA.

“We congratulate the first graduates of this program, and are pleased to be collaborating with the NSFA to help train a new generation of foundation leaders in education,” said Dr. Lena Rodriguez, endowed director of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University, which is leading a national initiative to expand the Institute’s approaches through affiliations with organizations and other universities.

The NSFA certification program sets the gold standard for quality education foundation leadership through an emphasis on cause leadership skills—one of the cornerstones of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy— and integrates elements of organizational management, fundraising and donor relations. NSFA comprises leaders of 1,000 of the nation’s nearly 5,000 local foundations, which supplement traditional school funding for activities and programs ranging from math to music. The program recognizes a growing need to address funding gaps for the nation’s Pre K-12 schools through a formalized professional development process.

“By strengthening the leadership of our nation’s education foundations, we can improve the investments we’re making for the future by starting with this generation of students,” said NSFA executive director Nina Menis.

The program emphasizes skills and knowledge required to effectively lead education foundations, with fundraising elements integrated throughout the program. Areas of focus include: Building and sustaining a well-connected and engaged board of directors; Efficient organizational planning and development; Key financial management techniques; Establishing effective and cooperative relationships with school districts and other community stakeholders; Key legal requirements and comprehensive resource and marketing strategies.

School foundations are needed now, more than ever. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan economic research organization, states are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago. Yet, the average amount raised by most school foundations is just about 0.3 percent of a typical district's budget.

Newly-certified Education Foundation Leader Traci Skalberg, executive director of the Grand Island (NE) Public Schools Foundation, found the program highly relevant to her own background running an organization for 13 years. “Every course gave me strategic insight into what I was doing about things that matter—from strengthening the board and organizational planning to legal issues, resource development, and educational collaboration,” she said.

Being able to network is another bonus, say participants. “Sharing experiences, documents, and strategies has created a network between us that I think will be a huge asset well beyond the course end date," says Gail Rothman, executive director of the Decatur Education Foundation in Decatur, GA.

Additional information and registration information for the Education Foundation Leadership Program can be found at http://sanfordeducationcenter.org/sanford-nfsa-certificate.cfm

About the National School Foundation Association
NSFA is a recognized leader of the Pre K-12 education foundation movement in the United States, providing training and support for foundation development and the quest to increase student achievement through strategic philanthropic investment and involvement. Supported in the early stages with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the mission of the NSFA is to provide support, training, and resources to education foundations and their leaders to maximize their success. This mission is accomplished through State Affiliate Organizations (Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah), individual memberships throughout the United States, and with the support of partners, business leaders, education leaders, and government officials who share our passion for quality educational programs for our nation’s schools. For more information, go to www.SchoolFoundations.org

About National University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California and home of the flagship Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. The Institute offers education programs with an emphasis on cause sales, cause leadership and fundraising – developed by the University’s School of Business and Management and Division of Extended Learning. The Institute’s unique Cause Sales approach toward fundraising and donor relationships blends the passion of philanthropy with an emphasis on proven business principles. Based on the vision of philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford, the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy initiative, based out of National University, is growing to include affiliate Institutes at other universities and partnerships with organizations to create customizable programming that serve the unique needs of nonprofits and their local communities. http://sanfordeducationcenter.org/instituteofphilanthropy.cfm