For the second year in a row, Education Northwest was recognized by the International E-Learning Association (IELA) for developing an innovative online course. The “Resource Development: Fundraising & Grant Writing” course was one of only 11 award winners in a global pool of submissions. The winners were announced at the 2012 Interactive Collaborative Learning Conference in Villach, Austria.
Education Northwest’s Volunteer Leadership Center created the course for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs). VISTAs commit to a year of fulltime service—living at the federal poverty level and working as capacity-builders for nonprofit or public agencies engaged in fighting poverty. The resource development course gives VISTAs the opportunity to earn college credit while learning skills that are critical to their work.
Using an online simulation model, students learn how to raise funds, plan events, and research and write grants to develop resources for a fictional organization called Community Kitchen. “We designed Community Kitchen to have a lot of the characteristics of the VISTA sites so that students could practice doing resource development work, get feedback and assistance on that work, and then use their new skills to strengthen the fund-raising capacity of their own sites,” says Jil Freeman, who has been teaching the course for Education Northwest. Noting the success of the simulation model, Freeman explains that “students’ work is scored in terms of how much money they raised by successfully completing an assignment. They’ve been really enthusiastic about meeting their fundraising goals for Community Kitchen.”
The IELA awards are given each year for the best work in e-learning, mobile learning, and blended learning, in two divisions: Academic and Business/Industry. All submissions are evaluated by the IELA Awards Committee, which looks for attributes such as educational soundness and effectiveness, usability, and overall significance.
Through its contractual work with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Education Northwest has developed other college-accredited courses for VISTAs in managing volunteers and examining the history, causes, and solutions of poverty. For more information, contact Volunteer Leadership Center Director Nancy Henry.