Philanthropy Fellows in the Field: Bringing Nonprofit Management out of the Classroom and into Montgomery County

By Stephanie Areizaga
Philanthropy Fellow at Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families

Stephanie is a student at the University of Maryland and the Do Good Institute. She is working toward an MPP focused on nonprofit management and leadership. We asked her to reflect on her experience as a Philanthropy Fellow this past year. The Philanthropy Fellows program is a partnership between WRAG and the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland.

Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families serves as Montgomery County’s Local Management Board, a type of entity that every Maryland county possesses. The Collaboration Council’s purpose is to be a catalyst so that public agencies and other groups can collaborate to achieve positive results in the community. Through my fellowship, I primarily work with two contracts under the Collaboration Council’s “Social Justice” initiative. One is focused on families affected by incarceration and the other is focused on disconnected youth. From the start of my fellowship, I worked with these contracts hands-on by researching best practices, speaking with experts around the nation implementing this work and visiting their programs, providing input on program design, writing grants for the programs, and presenting at or leading meetings with our contracted partners. My wide-ranging academic background in public policy, nonprofit management and leadership, and criminal justice have brought a unique and helpful perspective to these programs.

During my time as a Philanthropy Fellow at MCCC, I learned a great deal about re-engagement models and services for families affected by incarceration, but I also learned many practical lessons about nonprofit program development and monitoring. For example, through working on these collaborative efforts, I see the importance cross-sector collaboration has on individual organizations’ awareness of and access to local resources and supports. Additionally, when starting up a new program, there is rarely a need to reinvent the wheel. I have been incredibly impressed by and appreciative of the practitioners in Florida, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, and other counties throughout Maryland who have so generously shared their own knowledge, experiences, and resources for their programming dedicated to disconnected youth and families affected by incarceration.

The Philanthropy Fellows program has provided me with the ideal opportunity to bring my knowledge out of the classroom and apply it to real nonprofit programming. As I look toward my future career path, I feel confident knowing that I have both the academic knowledge and practical skills for entering the nonprofit field and effecting positive social change.

WRAG Members: Interested in what a Philanthropy Fellow could bring to your organization? Click here for details on the program, or contact Rebekah Seder. WRAG is accepting applications from our members to host fellows this fall until May 11.