SoHE Launches New Capstone Certificate in Community & Nonprofit Leadership

Capstone Certificate classroom photo

Photo provided by CommNS.

This fall, the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology (SoHE) department of Civil Society and Community Studies launches a new Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership. With a flexible timeline and coursework centered on critical and technical aspects of organizational leadership, the certificate is well suited to individuals looking to grow their impact in their respective fields of nonprofit or community-based work.

Mary Beth Collins, Executive Director of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS), discusses the drive behind the new certificate offering as well as the benefits she anticipates it will have for students.


What prompted you to create this new Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership?

MBC: We saw a need in the field. Robust conversations are happening around community and nonprofit work; addressing root causes, lifting up community wisdom and voice, and rethinking the sector. Many nonprofit professionals don’t get a lot of time or space to step back and invest in focused learning and development. Outside of the nonprofit world, there are career professionals looking to pivot to more meaningful and impactful work.

UW-Madison’s Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership was created to meet these needs. The program brings together the outreach and network of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies and the proven, community-engaged faculty of the Civil Society and Community Studies department.

Who do you envision would most benefit from earning this certificate?

MBC: This certificate is for professionals with a bachelor’s degree who want to develop expertise and earn transcripted credentials without going to graduate school. Change agents in positions of leadership and influence can use this program to “recharge” their skills, deepen their professional development, and enhance their personal and organizational missions. We envision emerging or established community leaders in the arts, environmental science, early childhood education, agriculture, social work and services, health care, public service, and other areas leveraging the know-how, critical thinking, and theory found in community and nonprofit organizations and civil society.

What skills will students learn as they work toward this certificate?

CommNS' The Beacon photo

Photo provided by CommNS

MBC: They’ll discern and understand historic and current trends and themes in the nonprofit sector, study promising examples and innovations in community work, learn about collaboration and communication strategies, understand revenue models for various types of mission-based organizations, and gain knowledge and skills on topics such as board governance, financial management, and operations and infrastructure. It’s an immersive learning community that connects students to experts and real-world experiences in the field.

Based on our graduate and undergraduate coursework, we anticipate this capstone to have a rich and compelling educational environment that brings together students with diverse backgrounds and interests. I’m continually impressed by the vast range of substantive interest areas and positive changes UW-Madison students strive to make in the world.

Through this certificate, students will sharpen their critical lens on the sector in a big-picture sense. They’ll also gain practical skills that make them more efficient, effective, and valued team members and change agents in their careers. Most importantly, students will customize their own educational plans to their unique goals and needs.

When does it start? And how can a prospective student learn more?

MBC: The first cohort of our Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership starts Fall 2020, with an August 1 application deadline. The next begins Spring 2021, with a December application deadline. More information can be found in certificate’s UW Guide page hosted by Continuing Studies or by emailing Lauren Feiner, the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology Graduate Program Director.

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