The Encore!Connecticut program: How corporate professionals move into nonprofit leadership

Encore!Connecticut is a four-month workforce development program tailored for seasoned corporate professionals seeking to transition their skill-sets and experience into successful professional and managerial employment in the Connecticut nonprofit sector.

It is designed to leverage the student’s professional experience and prepare the individual for life in the nonprofit arena. Presently, the Encore!Connecticut program is offered in Hartford and Fairfield County.

Program Overview

Education: The education component of Encore!Connecticut focuses on the differences in best practices between corporate and nonprofit business management examining where practices mesh as well as differ. This process will enable you to identify the transferable skill-sets you bring to the nonprofit sector from your prior work experience.

Lead Instructors and Faculty: Encore!Hartford is led by Dr. David Garvey, Director of the UConn Nonprofit Leadership Program. Encore!Fairfield County will be co-led by Scott Wilderman, President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Career Resources, Inc., one of the nation’s leading workforce development organizations and Bob Francis, Executive Director of RYASAP, a nationally recognized youth and community leadership development coalition serving Greater Bridgeport.

The classroom component of both programs is premised on practitioner-based learning. Lead instructors will be joined by leading Connecticut and national nonprofit practitioners who will provide their expertise on specific topics and their wisdom from decades in the field. Participants (Encore Fellows) will engage with top nonprofit professionals and executive directors on key best practices for managing and growing nonprofit organizations, along with discussions with individuals already enjoying successful encore careers in the nonprofit sector.

Job Search in the Nonprofit Sector: The deep immersion component of Encore!Connecticut is essential to the learning process and the job search. All classes of Encore!Connecticut are held in regional nonprofits, from small to large, with a diversity of missions. This allows the Encore Fellow to experience directly the diversity, challenges and opportunities of working in a variety of nonprofit work environments…and to for the leaders of the Fairfield County and Hartford nonprofit sectors to meet and get to know you.

Encore Fellowship: Based on the field and position interests of the Encore Fellow, each will be matched with a Greater Hartford or Fairfield County, as appropriate, nonprofit for a two-month, 30-hour week professional level management assignment that meets the career goals of the Encore Fellow and the specific needs of the nonprofit organization. The matching process is similar to the job interview process; where both the nonprofit and Encore!Connecticut Fellow is determining the best match. During the Encore!Connecticut fellowship periods, both spring and fall, fellows will meet as a group, facilitated by the UConn Nonprofit Leadership Program, to share and process their fellowship experiences.

Selection of Encore Fellow Host Organizations: Through an application process, interested Greater Hartford and Fairfield County nonprofits will submit a job and project description, along with confirmation of organizational capacity to support the efforts of an Encore Fellow. The organization will agree to assign an Encore Fellow supervisor who meets the standards of the Encore!Connecticut program, and who will agree to meet with a program representative at the beginning and periodically during the course of the fellowship. Proposals are carefully vetted to provide fellows with interesting and challenging projects.

Matching of Encore Fellows with Host Organizations: Discussions with fellows as to their interests and nonprofit experience needs to determine best possible placements will take place at the beginning of the program. Interviews between the participants and prospective fellowship host organizations will be arranged enabling the opportunity to discuss suggested projects and determine if it would be a good fit for both.

Program Assessment: Encore Fellows will be asked to complete three comprehensive evaluations. Two of the evaluations will focus on the classroom component of the program and one on the fellowship. Encore Fellowship Hosts will be asked to complete one comprehensive evaluation covering their experience as a host organization. These evaluations will be used to make changes to the current and future program revisions as warranted.

Graduation: A graduation celebration will be held at the end of the program. Invited to honor the graduates will be program instructors and presenters, executive directors/CEOs who hosted education sessions at their organizations; fellowship host organization supervisors and managers; nonprofit professionals who participated in networking opportunities for the fellows; representatives from partner organizations and, of course, families and friends of the graduates.