- Leadership Arlington/Leadership Center for Excellence to run County’s volunteer office
- Public-private partnership
- Five-year contract; advisory board will provide ideas and help develop initiatives
- Opens door to expanded services for volunteers, non-profits
Arlington County has chosen Leadership Arlington/Leadership Center for Excellence (LA/LCE) — a local non-profit known for developing leaders and fostering community, partnerships and collaboration — to operate the County’s Volunteer Arlington program for the next five years. Volunteer Arlington is the County’s clearinghouse for volunteerism, matching volunteers with non-profits and government programs that rely on volunteers in carrying out their work.
“Volunteerism is part of the fabric of our community,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said. “Through this new public-private partnership, community members will find it even easier to identify and take part in meaningful, rewarding volunteer opportunities. Non-profits and other programs will have access to improved tools and resources to help them connect with volunteers. We could not ask for a better partner in this endeavor – it’s an exciting new chapter for Arlington volunteers and the many programs they support.”
Leadership Arlington was chosen through a competitive bid process and is uniquely positioned to move the program forward. “We are excited to join in this new partnership for volunteerism in Arlington,” LA/LCE President and Chief Executive Officer Betsy Frantz said. “Leveraging our 18 years of community experience and leadership, we are confident that we will successfully expand these essential volunteer services to Arlington.”
Volunteer Arlington was created in 1972 by County Board Member Ellen Bozman. Operated by the County’s Department of Human Services for most of its existence, the program has successfully connected thousands of people from all socio-economic backgrounds, and of all ages, with organizations that need volunteers.
Established in 1998, LA/LCE offers a multitude of programs for personal and professional development for any stage of the leadership continuum. Its mission is to enlighten, inspire and connect leaders through community building and leadership development. By developing trained leaders who are committed to building, supporting and strengthening our region, LA/LCE fosters a sense of community, visionary leadership, partnership and collaboration that motivates participants to become agents of change.
Thorough, community-driven process
Arlington County established a Volunteer Arlington Advisory Task Force in October 2014 to consider whether outsourcing the Volunteer Arlington program would lead to an enhanced level of volunteer activity throughout the community. Members included representatives of non-profit organizations that use volunteers; persons who volunteer, including teens; persons who serve or represent the immigrant communities; and the business community. The task force was co-chaired by Northern Virginia Family Services Executive Director Mary Agee and then-Department of Human Services Director Susanne Eisner. The task force conducted a thorough outreach effort to stakeholders:
- Electronic surveys garnered 780 responses from volunteers, nonprofits, commission members, County staff, the business community, youth, Arlington Public Schools staff, faith-based organizations and civic associations.
- Two volunteer forums, hosted by the task force, gathered more information. One forum was for nonprofit partners; the other was for new Americans.
- Other programs were researched to determine best practices.
A majority of the task force determined that the Volunteer Arlington program should be replaced with a public-private partnership between the County and a nonprofit organization selected through competitive bidding and subject to intensive government oversight and an advisory board with representation from key stakeholder groups. The task force majority felt this model would best meet community needs. The County Board approved the task force’s recommendation to convert Volunteer Arlington to a public-private partnership, directing staff to develop a request for proposals and initiate the search for a vendor. Leadership Arlington was chosen and will assume operations immediately.
Enhanced programming on the horizon
The Volunteer Arlington public-private partnership model will bring:
- Increased outreach and promotion to recruit volunteers.
- Improved technology solutions.
- Enhanced promotion to diverse populations including teenagers, young adults, new Americans, seniors and low-income residents.
- Increased engagement with the business community, including appreciation events to recognize and celebrate those who volunteer with County programs and community nonprofits.
“The work of task force members was invaluable in assessing community needs,” Frantz said. “We will utilize the feedback received throughout the entire process as it gives us necessary information and tools to ensure a successful and collaborative future for Volunteer Arlington, volunteers, nonprofits, businesses and the greater community.”
“Together, the Leadership Arlington/Leadership Center for Excellence Board of Regents, staff and membership thanks the community and Arlington County for trusting us with this endeavor. We are excited to move forward and further the impact of Volunteer Arlington together.