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High Point program targets prospective board members

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By Chris Gigley

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Nonprofits in High Point have more leaders to seek guidance from, thanks to a program facilitated by the United Way of Greater High Point.

The Project Board Development Program prepares participants to serve on the boards of local nonprofits.

The effort is the first project tackled by the United Way’s African-American Initiative, which aims to spur civic involvement in High Point’s African-American community.

The program consists of seven weekly courses taught by guest speakers, each of whom covers a specific topic.

In the inaugural program, which ran from May to July, participants learned everything from how to read a balance sheet to how to stage a successful fundraising event.

“The thing that impressed me is that this group met for seven consecutive Thursday nights for two hours,” says Bobby Smith, president of United Way of Greater High Point. “We had a zero drop-out rate. We had 17 people start and 17 graduate. They were pretty strict on themselves, and they really bonded by the end.”

A few of them also saw results right away.

Joe Barnes, United Way staff liaison to the program, says just over half the first participants have already joined boards, and the rest likely will when other nonprofits reach the end of their respective fiscal years and turn over their boards.

“We’re pretty pleased with the response from people wanting to talk to the folks who graduated,” he says.

Darnell Sharpless, manager of personnel and administration at Thomas Built Buses, joined the United Way board after completing the program and sits on its human resources committee.

He already had served on several boards but wanted to go through the program for the experience.

“I thought it was definitely worthwhile for me,” he says. “While I’ve been involved with boards and served as president of a civic organization, it’s been a while. If you don’t use those skills on a regular basis, you lose them. Going through the program served as a refresher.”

Sharpless says his wife, Marilyn, also benefited from Project Board Development. She had never been on a board, he says, but recently secured a spot on the Boys and Girls Club board.

The program prompted her and the other relatively inexperienced participants to be more civic-minded, he says.

High Point University has donated classroom space for the next Project Board Development program, which has 20 spots and started September 27 and runs through November 8.

Carlvena Foster, executive director of the Carl Chavis YMCA in High Point, chairs Project Board Development.

For information, contact the United Way of Greater High Point at 336.883-4127.

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