UTK Engagement with Regional Nonprofits
Alex Miller, William B. Stokely Chair in Management and Director, Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness, was awarded a 2013-2014 Outreach and Engagement Incentive Grant for his work to develop a regional support center for nonprofits in Upper East Tennessee.
Miller partnered with the Knoxville Leadership Foundation, United Way, and the Trinity Foundation to begin building the support center that will provide coordination, support, and other resources for nonprofits in the area. Nonprofit organizations comprise a rapidly growing sector within the community, Miller said. Currently seven percent of the U.S. economy is based on this sector, which is expected, having grown by 25 percent within the past decade.
“We expect to create a collaborative network of regional nonprofit service providers, with the University of Tennessee serving as the hub of the network,” Miller said.
He partnered with Knoxville Leadership Foundation to carry out the necessary market research. United Way and Trinity Foundation then hosted a a community-wide roundtable series, during which Miller’s team generated dialogue to gather input from local nonprofits and the community on the needs the support center could help meet, and how the center should best be constructed to foster collaboration and improve the collective impact of the nonprofit sector.
Miller firmly believes the partnership will benefit UT as well, preparing students to work in the nonprofit sector while also providing opportunities to enhance scholarly endeavors in a number of academic disciplines.
“My goal is to greatly increase UT engagement with the nonprofits across campus,” said Miller.
The greater Knoxville area and surrounding communities will benefit from a center that also adds educational capacity and opportunities for UT research, student placement, foundation funding and executive training opportunities. Volunteers and interns will be placed through the program with the help of the university.
“Go slow to go fast,” said Miller of his conclusion to the beginning phase of the project. “Focus on the community problem you are solving.”