ARC Innovator – Strategic Planning Consultant
New Community Corporation
ARC Innovator Title:
Strategic Planning Consultant
Who is the nonprofit partner?
New Community Corporation (NCC) was founded in 1968 in Newark following the disturbances of 1967. After the riots, Msgr. William Linder and a group of local residents started NCC in order to help empower the community. The mission is “to help residents of inner cities improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement.” The first initiatives were to provide housing and daycare for Newark residents because that is what the community defined as its greatest need. Over the years NCC has grown and diversified to provide a wide variety of community services in addition to the 1800 units of senior and family housing. These programs include a family resource success center, a transitional housing facility for the homeless, a supportive housing project for the chronically homeless, a workforce development center with six job training programs, a financial opportunity center, an extended care facility and an adult learning center. NCC also has a variety of youth services including two early learning centers for ages 3 months to 3 years. NCC runs a credit union and two mental health facilities. The vast array of services provided highlights NCC’s commitment to tackling community issues at every level.
NCC celebrated its 50th anniversary this past March of 2018. NCC is currently the largest community development corporation in the United States. While NCC is a faith based organization, it is not affiliated with the Catholic Church or any other religious denomination. NCC’s primary motivation is working with the community, in the community and for the community.
What skills or interests do I need to do the project?
NCC is seeking an Innovator who has experience in the development and implementation of strategic plans. The Innovator should have significant skills in project management, team building and helping others learn and succeed. NCC does not want, does not expect, and should not ask the Innovator to develop the plan. The Innovator must be good at helping the organization learn how to do a strategic plan well. The goal at the end of the day is to have learned vital skills and best practices so that NCC can help other Community Development Corporations develop strategic plans. An Innovator who has knowledge and understanding of urban environments and issues would be helpful. The Innovator must be able to work with individuals from various backgrounds and levels of education. An interest in the inner city, and understanding of NCC’s paradigm and a sense of creativity are welcome.
What’s the project all about?
New Community has not produced a formal strategic plan in many years and the prospect of creating one is no small undertaking. Its age and entrenched culture of how it operates will likely make it more difficult for New Community to do the “thinking outside of the box” that strategic planning encourages. There are also logistical barriers to creating a strategic plan – the vast array of services New Community provides means that there are many disparate departments that on a day-to-day basis operate independently of each other. The primary responsibility of the Innovator would be to facilitate the strategic planning process by serving as a consultant and guide.
The Innovator will ensure that key information is brought to the table, and that all voices are heard. At the same time, the Innovator should make their own voice heard – what NCC needs is someone to push back and challenge the status quo, to be unafraid to broach difficult topics and to provide an honest assessment. The Innovator will also be in charge of following through and keeping people accountable and involved throughout the planning process. Which brings NCC to the key point – the Innovator will provide the organization with a process. Since this is new to the organization, NCC needs someone to provide timelines and methods. The Innovator will not write the plan, but rather oversee the process.
What are the project objectives and deliverables?
The ARC Innovator Project is the development of a draft strategic plan, to be presented to senior management and the Board of Directors for review. With the passing of its founder this past June, New Community is experiencing what will be a watershed moment in its history. New Community’s Board of Directors, which was previously headed by the founder, is going through a process of board development. With the aid of a consultant, it is reorganizing and redefining what its role in the organization’s governance will be. As New Community seeks to regain its balance in the face of change, it is in need of a structured road map to ensure that New Community does not stray from its mission and continues to provide quality services to its many clients.
It has been many years since New Community has had a formal strategic plan. New Community hopes to be connected to an Innovator who would serve as a consultant throughout the planning process. The organization envision this process happening bottom-up – instead of approaching its Board of Directors and full Executive Team from the beginning, the idea is to develop a draft plan and deliver it to senior management for input, and finally to the Board for review. In light of the rather urgent need for a formal strategy, this approach is quicker and more expedient. Of course NCC will work closely with the Board of Directors and senior management to make sure NCC is rowing in the right direction.
The end product of NCC’s strategic planning process should be a draft strategic plan. The organization does not want a strategic plan that will sit on the shelf gathering dust - therefore it must be ensured that NCC devotes the time and energy necessary to immerse all board and key staff members in the development of what should be a living, breathing document, responsive to change and clear in its distribution of responsibilities.
A major component of the successful execution of a strategic plan would be the performance of what is known as a SWOT exercise: identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Internally, New Community would assess its organizational performance in terms of its finances, management and operating methods, and program outcomes. Externally, New Community would carry out a Community Needs Assessment. As NCC reorganizes, it has to contend with the fate of some of NCC’s less profitable operations. Are these services that the community needs? Could the organization perhaps invest its energies in a way that is more desirable and productive for the community? Related to the rethinking of what the community needs is the rethinking of what the organization’s mission is. NCC will need to reach a consensus on what “improving the quality of life of inner city residents” should mean to New Community.
The short-term deliverables of NCC’s strategic plan will be a draft plan spanning several years, and a one-year detailed action plan. These plans should be oriented towards goals that are: realistic and achievable in terms of the resources NCC project to have available and the abilities of those NCC charges with implementing them; flexible enough to allow for adjustments in the face of unexpected events but specific enough to be measurable; and straightforward in the objectives and responsibilities they convey. The long-term deliverables will be an improvement in NCC’s service delivery and quality.
Without a strategic plan New Community cannot in good faith say that it is remaining steadfast to its mission. With programs that are performing poorly, with a recent influx of funds, with a growing affordability crisis in Newark and beyond, New Community has an obligation to reevaluate the work it does and to expand the services it provides if it wants to remain committed not just rhetorically, but also in practice to its mission of improving the lives of inner city residents.
The strategic plan should unequivocally have a positive impact on the community NCC serves. The plan will help identify what populations of people the organization might be missing in NCC’s service provision, what unaddressed needs might exist in the community, which of NCC’s programs might be falling short of their individual missions and why, and most importantly, what the best strategies for addressing all of these identified needs and shortcomings are. By providing NCC with a road map to where and how the organization expand its services, the strategic plan would serve as a tool for reaching out to more members of the community and ultimately improving the quality of their lives.
Who from the organization will provide me with support?
Tony Tolles, Special Assistant to the CEO, and Anna Kapolka, P55 Fellow, will provide support on the project.
How long will the project take?
It is anticipated that the project will take 10-12 weeks.
Where will I complete the project?
The work needs to be done largely onsite.
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