The Lowcountry Executive Director Leadership Program 2021-22 graduates are, from left: Christina Wilson, Child Abuse Prevention Association;, Kathy Cramer, SOAR Special Recreation of the Lowcountry; Sandy Gillis, Deep Well Project; Ahmad Ward, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park; Jody Levitt,The Children’s Center; Anne Caywood, Lowcountry Legal Volunteers. Not pictured: Jackie O’Bannon, Antioch Educational Center.

For 28 years, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has served the region by providing support, expertise, and resources to donors, nonprofits, government agencies, and students. Now we are embracing a more prominent role in creating convening opportunities for local nonprofits to help them achieve their organizational needs.

“Convening” is not a word commonly used in most of our daily lives. However, it is a word frequently referenced at the Foundation. “Convene” is defined by Google as “come or bring together for a meeting or activity; assemble.”

On Aug. 30, we hosted the Lowcountry Executive Director Leadership Program graduation ceremony. Seven nonprofit leaders took part in the yearlong program offered by the Foundation and conducted by Neil Sklarew, an experienced executive coach and nonprofit consultant. Participants shared emotional examples of how the peer-based learning program, which included group meetings and individual coaching sessions, had a positive impact on their hiring practices, management style, and job performance.

On Sept. 9, the Foundation hosted a convening event for recent grant recipients of the Town of Hilton Head Island’s ARPA/SLFRF COVID-19 Fund. The Foundation was responsible for administering and awarding grants, totaling over $500,000, to 15 nonprofit agencies who support residents of Hilton Head.

There was a lively discussion with nonprofit leadership about topics most affecting the under-resourced in the region, including food insecurity and housing. While some of the nonprofits already collaborate, others connected during the event and made plans to join forces to provide enhanced services to people in need.

The Foundation’s commitment to convening opportunities also extends to nonprofit board members. On Sept. 14, the Foundation hosted a board development workshop, which brought together board leadership and executive directors from several local organizations.

Topics covered were board governance, organization and relationships. There were group exercises and discussions, allowing participants to learn from each other and the facilitator. Each pair left with a plan to enhance their board’s structure and increase the capacity of their organization.

The Foundation is also collaborating with area nonprofits for convening events. On Oct. 20, we are teaming up with the United Way of the Lowcountry for “The State of Our Boys: A Community Wide Conversation.” The goal of the event is simple: to convene a new coalition of area nonprofits, community leaders, educators and clergy to help address the issues and outcomes for adolescent boys and young men, and to embark on a plan to integrate programming and provide young boys with better pathways to realize their potential.

Scott Wierman is the president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.