Reflections from a Semifinalist: America Needs You

America Needs You is one of ten organizations selected as a semifinalist for the 2015 New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards.
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By Emily Daniels, Director of Development, America Needs You

Each day at America Needs You, we greet our mission to fight for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students with dedication and determination. We have aligned our core values, daily actions, and long-term goals with the success of the students we serve since our founding in 2009.

The process of applying to the Nonprofit Excellence Awards reminded us that our mission and our impact extend far beyond the two formal years our students spend in our core Fellows Program.  You see, at America Needs You, we seek to provide a lifelong network of support and community for the students whose lives we help to fundamentally change.  And we want to hear directly from them about how the lessons they learned in the Fellows Program impact their lives days, months, and years later.

As America Needs You matures, our growing alumni network provides a great opportunity to track long-term outcomes, inform programming, and improve future strategies.  As a young organization, we have been able to establish a culture of alumni support and engagement early on.  We recognize the importance of asking our program alumni, directly and often, what they need from us to experience continued success.

As a result, we now host quarterly professional and social events for alumni, periodically schedule check-in calls, and offer alumni office hours to maintain the community of support we have worked so hard to establish.  By promoting a results-focused, communication rich culture, we are better able to track and articulate the medium- and long-term outcomes our program alumni experience and determine our role in that success.

We are grateful to the Nonprofit Excellence Awards for providing us with an opportunity to look candidly and intimately at our management practices to ensure we are able to provide the best programming, in the best way, to fundamentally improve the lives of first-generation college students in our community.

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