Forming a Board for Your Youth Program

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Olivia Camarena |
February 1, 2024 |
For Providers |
Christina Wocintechchat Unsplash

Establishing a board for youth programs isn’t just a procedural step; it’s a strategic move toward ensuring that your program achieves its fullest potential, navigating challenges and leveraging opportunities. Whether you’re just starting to form a board for your youth program or refining an existing one, you’ve come to the right place. 

Let’s dive into the importance of a board, emphasizing diversity, and offer practical tips on assembling a team that resonates with your program’s core values and aspirations.

Why Have a Board for a Youth  Program?

The board’s existence represents the foundation for any successful, high-quality youth program for multiple reasons, but one seems most prominent: boards are in charge of strong governance and decision-making. Boards provide much-needed direction and oversight, ensuring that the program’s mission, objectives, and values stay on track. 

The National Association of Independent Schools highlights the board’s role in fostering accountability and demonstrating the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community. The Bridgespan Group (2016) expands on this, portraying boards as proactive contributors to an organization’s growth, encompassing legal, ethical, and cultural aspects. Essentially, a board guides the organization in a manner that is both lawful and ethically sound.

In the program’s early phases, a board’s involvement often transcends supervision. Members frequently assist with drafting documents, securing resources, and overseeing daily operations, such as laying the groundwork for a solid staff team.

Diversity on Boards

Diversity in board composition is about creating an inclusive environment where individuals from all backgrounds—encompassing different genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities—have representation in decision-making. In this sense, Afterschool Alliance underlines the importance of integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion in youth programs, as a diverse board brings varied perspectives to the table, sparking innovation and effective solutions. For sure, there’s a growing necessity across the industry for diversity in shaping the future. Crucially, a board reflective of community diversity bolsters trust and relatability, key for nonprofits.

Advantages of diverse board members:

  • Enhanced decision-making.
  • Wider networks for support and resources.
  • A stronger appeal to diverse populations.
  • Diverse boards are more likely to attract funding and better serve their communities.

While embracing diversity is the right thing to do, it’s important to approach this goal thoughtfully to avoid perceptions of tokenism. Investing in diverse board members means valuing their unique contributions and perspectives, not just their demographic characteristics. The challenge lies in creating a board culture where diversity is genuinely integrated into the governance and strategic direction of the organization.

How to Find Your Board Members?

Identifying the right board members involves evaluating your nonprofit’s current needs and future aspirations. Let’s explore some effective steps for identifying and recruiting the ideal board members for your nonprofit:

  1. Start with a thorough assessment of your current board’s composition.
  2. Prioritize diversity for strategic decision-making.
  3. Implement a board application process to streamline candidate interest.
  4. Once a board member is selected, ensure they receive proper orientation.

The size of your board can significantly impact its functionality. Boards that are too large may struggle with engagement and decision-making efficiency, while very small boards might lack diversity in perspectives. Organizations need to find a balance that works best for their specific needs. Consider the benefits of having new board members join in cohorts or have a “board buddy” as a mentor for smoother integration.

Do’s and Don’ts for Your Youth Program’s Board

Do’s:

  • Seek diverse members with varied skills and experiences.
  • Clearly define each board member’s role and responsibilities.
  • Introduce an all-encompassing onboarding process for newcomers.
  • Foster open communication and constructive debates.
  • Regularly review board performance and its impact.
  • Offer continuous training and development for board members.
  • Prioritize the organization’s welfare

Don’ts:

  • Ignore conflicts of interest.
  • Overlook the board’s legal and financial duties.
  • Dismiss the importance of strategic planning.
  • Underestimate the board’s role in fundraising and resource mobilization.
  • Be vague about time commitments for board members.
  • Allow board stagnation; consistently introduce new viewpoints.
  • Appoint members with the same address, as it may lead to a conflict of interest, reduced independence, and limited diversity.

The process of finding the right board members for your youth program requires careful consideration, strategic planning, and active engagement with your community and networks. And remember! Diversity on the board isn’t just about fulfilling a quota; it’s about enriching your board’s collective wisdom.

Join Our Community!

Step into the AfterSchool HQ Facebook Group—a virtual hub for connecting with youth program leaders nationwide. Join here.

 

 

References:

National Association Independent Schools (2018). Boardroom: Getting the Board On Board with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work.” Retrieved from https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/fall-2018/boardroom-getting-the-board-onboard-with-diversity,-equity,-and-inclusion-work/ 

The Bridgespan Group (2016). “Why Do You Need a Board?” retrieved from https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/why-do-you-need-a-board 

Council of Nonprofits (N/A). “Board Roles and Responsibilities” Retrieved from https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/running-nonprofit/governance-leadership/board-roles-and-responsibilities 

Afterschool Snack (2019). “To elevate equity, diversity, and inclusion, go deeper into your quality standards.”Retrieved from https://www.afterschoolalliance.org/afterschoolsnack/To-elevate-equity-diversity-and-inclusion-go-deeper-into_08-23-2019.cfm 

Boardable (N/a). “Board of Directors Diversity: Why It’s Important.” Retrieved from https://boardable.com/resources/board-of-directors-diversity-why-its-important/ 

National Council of Nonprofits (N/A). “Finding the Right Board Members for your Nonprofit.” Retrieved from https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/running-nonprofit/governance-leadership/finding-right-board-members-your-nonprofit 

 

 

Picture by Christina @ wocintechchat.com via Unsplash.