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Release: Feb. 22, 2001

Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center opens at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Willard Boyd, professor of law and University of Iowa president emeritus, says the goal for creating the recently established Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center was to bring together the many educational programs and services that diverse UI units currently provide to Iowa's nonprofit organizations. Based at the law school, the center is an interdisciplinary collaboration intended to strengthen the operational capacity of Iowa's community-based organizations, Boyd says.

UI educational programs prepare students for varied careers, which they often pursue through a nonprofit organization, Boyd says. The center, he says, serves as "an entry point to these university resources and is a catalyst for assessing and meeting the needs of the Iowa nonprofit community."

The Division of Continuing Education sponsored a center survey last summer that polled a group of Iowa nonprofits to acquaint them with the center's services and to find out what those managers believe would help them to improve their managerial skills.

More than 26,500 nonprofits are organized under Iowa law. Some 2,800 of them are tax-exempt charitable organizations, Boyd says, and most of them are small and widely distributed throughout the state.

"These organizations are the bedrock of Iowa's communities. Virtually all of these organizations expressed a need to improve their operational capacity in order to make their programs more effective in their communities," Boyd said.

The center draws on expertise from personnel at the Colleges of Law, Business, Nursing, Public Health, and the College of Liberal Arts. Programs in Libraries and Information Science, Social Work, Religion, Health, Leisure and Sports, Museum Studies, and Arts Management are involved.

Together, with help from those units -- including the UI Foundation, the Office of the General Counsel, the Institute of Public Affairs, and the University Life Centers -- joint educational programs have been created for on- and off-campus students. The center has developed a resource library on nonprofit management, which will soon be made available statewide. The center also maintains a telephone information line and soon will add a Web site that provides managerial information in hopes of serving a wider range of Iowa communities.

Richard Koontz, center coordinator, said the center was established at a time when nonprofits are burgeoning statewide.

"This is a period of growing numbers of nonprofit organizations that address a myriad of community concerns. Good management is essential to their success. Financing is a major challenge as the sources of private and government funding continually change," Koontz said.

Nonprofit associations have played a pivotal role in American society, Boyd said.

"Throughout the history of the United States, private community organizations, rather than government, have been the means for civic development and change in every aspect of our lives. Religious, social service, educational, cultural, and environmental groups are the core of our community life. We need to strengthen and support them if we are to have better places to live and work.

"The center brings to bear the total resources of the University of Iowa to assist these vital organizations in building Iowa communities," Boyd said.

For more information, contact the center at 315 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242 or at (319) 335-9765.