American Humanics awarded grant

The California State University, Fresno American Humanics (AH) Program was awarded a $25,000 grant that will be used to give its students hands-on experience in the Community Benefit Organization (CBO) sector.

AH is a program that specializes in training for CBO management and leadership, and American Humanics, Inc. is affiliated with 65 universities and colleges nationwide that offer an AH certificate, according to the director of the American Humanics nonprofit administration program, Matthew A. Jendian, Ph.D.

The $25,000 Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Grant will allow students from Fresno State’s AH program to be involved in local CBOs, according to Melissa Freeman, a senior business major and intern for the project. It will match students and alumni with local expert consultants from six community groups.

“This is giving the students an opportunity to actually get involved within organizations that are running, and they get to see what a consultant might see,” Freeman said.

She said that students will be given a chance to dissect a CBO and learn about what works and what doesn’t.

The Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Project is new to Fresno State and is part of the Sustainable Partnerships Project. Eight other universities are also involved in this program.

The project’s funding comes from a three-year grant from California Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 college and university presidents.

In rough economic times it’s difficult for CBOs to stay afloat because federal funding is reduced and some donors are less likely to give, according to Freeman.

“This whole project is to, no matter what the economic situation is, get CBOs to a place where they can sustain themselves,” Freeman said. “So, that includes things like diversifying where the money comes from.”

The term “CBO” is interchangeable with the term “nonprofit.” There is some debate within the sector as to which term is most appropriate. Fresno State’s AH program and directors prefer “CBO,” because it focuses on the organization’s purpose, according to Freeman.

The $25,000 grant will be matched by $50,000 from Fresno State and local funders.

The co-director of the grant Dr. Don Simmons, an adjunct professor of nonprofit management, said that about 75 undergraduate students are involved in the AH program as well as about 20 from the alumni chapter.

Though all of the classes are offered through Fresno State’s College of Social Sciences, AH attracts students from other majors. Simmons said that the program has students from criminology, psychology and health science as well as others. Of the 90 Fresno State alumni who have earned the AH certificate, 23 different majors have been represented.

Freeman was excited about the opportunity for AH students to gain applied experience that they could not receive in the classroom.

“Fresno State’s producing more experienced leaders, and students that are more ready for the workplace,” Freeman said.

In an e-mail interview, Jendian said that being a part of this project will allow Fresno State to invest resources into sustainable communities in the Central Valley.

“Through this
program, we are cultivating deeper relationships with nonprofit
community-benefit organizations to enhance their capacity – despite the
current economic challenges,” Jendian said.

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