Capacity Building Associate
Office of Faith‑Based and Community Initiatives
Hello! I’m Monica Krause, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the State of Indiana Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI). I’m going to be spending the next year serving nonprofits in Northeast Indiana in my role as a Capacity-Building Associate, so I wanted to introduce myself, the project, and OFBCI.
I grew up in Fort Wayne and graduated from Homestead High School, and got my degree in International Studies from the University of Evansville. I’m currently living in Indianapolis and serving my year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. If you aren’t familiar with AmeriCorps, it’s a national service program like the Peace Corps, but members serve their local communities in the U.S. As a branch of AmeriCorps, the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program focuses specifically on anti-poverty efforts and is characterized by members doing indirect service. We focus on building the capacity of nonprofits to serve communities and individuals living in poverty.
My site is OFBCI which serves as the liaison between nonprofits and the state government. Its mission is “to connect organizations and communities to grants, services, and each other; promote volunteerism and service to improve the lives of Hoosiers; encourage public and private resources to seed and sustain innovative and high quality community and faith-based initiatives; and highlight the good works of individuals and their communities with best practices and innovative models.”
To fulfill this mission, the office manages a few grants and does other projects. It manages the AmeriCorps State program, which has provided a total of 10,154 opportunities for Hoosiers to serve since 1994, and this year will support 804 members in full- or part-time positions. Access to Recovery (ATR) is a federally-funded grant that provides vouchers for individuals to seek treatment and recovery services for substance abuse and addiction. The Good Works Indiana Strengthening Families grant is a micro- grant for organizations serving low-income families relating to employment services. Grantees are awarded between $5,000-10,000 for projects or services ranging from transportation assistance to after-school care for children or employment and training services. OFBCI is also currently organizing the four regional Governor’s Conferences on Community Service and Volunteerism. Additionally, the office sends out the weekly Friday Night Facts newsletter with topics relevant to nonprofits as well as the monthly Funding Opportunities newsletter about local and national grants. For more information, please check out OFBCI’s website: http://www.in.gov/ofbci/index.htm.
All that info brings us to the VISTA project. There are five AmeriCorps VISTAs in the office, and we began our year of service in June. One of us is focusing on increasing volunteerism in Indiana, specifically related to skills-based volunteering, volunteering for individuals over the age of 55, and corporate volunteerism. The other four of us are Capacity Building Associates. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits to better serve their communities. We’re offering services of intensive, one-on-one training and technical assistance to small, grassroots organizations. We’re focusing on a variety of topics like board development, volunteer management, and program evaluation. We are just beginning to meet with the nonprofits we’ll be partnering with and are very excited to get started!
I’m really excited to immerse myself in the nonprofit world of NE Indiana, so hopefully I’ll be meeting people doing all types of work throughout the next year. I’d really encourage you to check out OFBCI’s website to get a better idea of what we do there. There are also tons of resources for nonprofits on topics like obtaining the 501(c)3 status, writing grants, managing your finances, and lots more. Please check that out, and feel free to get a hold of me with any questions. My email is MKrause@ofbci.in.gov.