As recruitment for the 2012 fellowship class kicks into high gear, current fellows are taking the time to answer questions and explain the El Pomar Fellowship to interested applicants. One of the most common questions that applicants have is how the skills they learn working for a foundation will translate to the kind of organization that is generally called to mind when you say the word nonprofit. This question always leads me to explain a lesser-known facet of the fellowship program—our technical or management assistance projects, often referred to as TAPs or MAPs.
There is no doubt that foundations like El Pomar, although representative of a crucial aspect of the nonprofit sector, are in a much different position than the organizations they fund. However, the Foundation recognizes that many of the recent college graduates who come to the fellowship program will go on to work for and even run grantseeking nonprofits.
Therefore, in the second year of the fellowship, fellows are given the opportunity to work with a Colorado nonprofit on a TAP/MAP. Some projects over the past few years have included creating marketing materials, conducting program evaluations, and facilitating strategic planning sessions. Fellows are able to design their projects with the nonprofit of their choice based on their own interests and the needs of the partner organization. To culminate the experience, each fellow presents on the project and important lessons learned throughout the process.
I just recently finished my project—a social media primer and 12-month Facebook and Twitter posting plan—for the Southern Colorado AIDS Project (S-CAP) in Colorado Springs. I had the opportunity to learn more about an area personal interest, modern nonprofit communications, and also worked with a local nonprofit with a mission I am passionate about. During my Fridays at S-CAP, I made new connections and experienced the nonprofit sector from a vantage point that I was not privy to in my day-to-day work at El Pomar.
As the application deadline for the fellowship approaches, I encourage recent college graduates to add this to your list of opportunities to consider. I don’t know that there is another first job that offers what El Pomar does. Plus, the Wall Street Journal thinks that employers should be offering more training and apprenticeship opportunities, which is what the fellowship is essentially.