Nonprofits honored

By Ret Boney

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Mountain Microenterprise Fund, TROSA and the John C. Campbell Folk School were chosen as the winners of the 2004 Nonprofit Sector Stewards Awards, presented by the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits at its annual conference Oct. 28.

“The center gives the nonprofit sector stewards awards each year to lift up three nonprofits that exemplify the responsible stewardship of human, financial and natural resources that is the bedrock value of the North Carolina Cnter for Nonprofits and of our state’s nonprofit sector,” said Jane Kendall, the center’s president.

The center, which has been presenting the awards since 1995 to recognize groups that “demonstrate exemplary stewardship of the public trust that is expected of them as tax-exempt organizations,” selected the three groups from throughout the state, the center said.

The Mountain Microenterprise Fund in Asheville received the award “for its accountability and advocacy,” Kendall said.

She praised the group’s creation of an independent audit committee, the development of an ethics code for board and staff, its efforts to ensure full disclosure by posting tax filings on its website and its work to restore national funding to small businesses.

The fund, which provides business training and start-up loans in 12 western counties, helps people build or grow their own businesses in fields as varied as jewelry making, child care and toy-making.

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, or TROSA, received its award “for exemplifying the work of nonprofits across the state as social entrepreneurs,” said Kendall.  “For saving taxpayers big bucks and being a good neighbor to other nonprofits.”

The Durham nonprofit provides programs for substance abusers, including a comprehensive two-year residential recovery program, aftercare services for graduates and businesses run by residents, including a moving company, Christmas tree lots and car repair services.

TROSA serves more than 250 people, nine in 10 of whom have criminal records and three in 10 of whom were homeless when they arrived, and is estimated to save taxpayers over $4 million a year by keeping residents out of prison, Kendall said.

The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown received the award “for its stewardship of human, financial and natural resources,” said Kendall.

The school, which provides 800 courses taught by 600 teachers, in fields ranging from basketry to blacksmithing to storytelling, has worked to be a better employer by increasing wages, insurance coverage and retirement benefits, Kendall said.

It also has shifted from a reliance on grants to income earned from course fees and product sales, she said, and has improved the local community by developing walking trails, restoring the local creek and plans to build a park to teach visitors about the history of the region.

In addition to recognition at the conference, winners receive $500 to be used for board and staff development and an original artwork commissioned for the awards.

Ret Boney is the Assistant editor of the Philanthropy Journal.

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