The School of Professional Studies (SPS) at Columbia University was founded in 1995 to specialize in career advancement through professional and interdisciplinary education. Under the leadership of Dean Jason Wingard, the SPS Community Relations office was created in fall 2015 to identify and engage individuals and organizations within the community that could serve as potential partners on a variety of initiatives and community service projects. Columbia SPS Community Relations channels the expertise of the school’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni—largely from SPS’s 16 graduate programs—in community service projects and activities in the Harlem community and Greater New York City. In seeking to create stronger, more resilient and sustainable organizations in the community, the Excellence in Nonprofit Management Series was developed.
The Excellence in Nonprofit Management Series is a collaboration between SPS and the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). Through this program, grantees of the WHDC participate in half-day workshops on key subjects and practices for nonprofit organizations such as strategic planning, board governance, and strategic communications. Participants are also invited to special lectures and events offered by the Nonprofit Management Master of Science and other programs.
SPS and the WHDC work together in planning and implementing all aspects for the workshops, including the choice of workshop presenters. The partnership allows for the WHDC to further its efforts to provide technical assistance to its nonprofit grantees and small businesses in the community. Over the last 6 years the WHDC has made grants to 162 nonprofit organizations, which has given them a broad base of outreach into the community. The grantees offer services in education, arts and culture, affordable housing, historical preservation, the environment, community facilities, workforce development, and economic development.
While the Excellence in Nonprofit Management Series is offered exclusively to grantees of the WHDC, SPS has made available numerous programs for community members and organizations. These programs include professional education for youth at the Harlem Children Zone, workshops for NYC small business services, community-focused graduate program capstone projects, the Girls in STEM Initiative, the Summer High School Scholarship Program, CU Grow—A Leadership Development Program for vendors, and much more. To learn more about SPS public programs, visit https://sps.columbia.edu/ideas-impact/community.