This is an excerpt from the Taproot’s Building Resiliency Through Pro Bono resource.
ReBirth Empowerment Education (REE) is all about clearing a path to economic stability for young adults in Dallas’s underserved communities. “Our thirteen-zip code recruitment area in Southern Dallas—known as the Cradle to Prison Pipeline—is home to more than 8,000 youth who are neither in school nor employed,” noted Terri Altmann, REE’s President and CEO. Their programs, set to launch in early 2021, will provide pre-apprenticeship training and placement in union and non-union construction jobs—all with the goal of making economic opportunities available to all of their neighbors.
From the ground up.
Altmann requested her first pro bono project back in March 2020 as a way to build her small, start-up organization’s capacity and move their mission forward, and she’s completed several others since. Taproot volunteers offer REE skills that they don’t have on staff and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. “Each Taproot volunteer was personable, professional, and exhibited extensive knowledge and skills in their respective areas of expertise,” said Altmann. “They took time to learn about our organization and delivered results for the project as well as opportunities for growth.”
“Prepare documents and information in advance of your initial meeting [with the volunteer], including expectations for the final deliverable. Most importantly, ask for references if needed to ensure the volunteer has the experience needed to create a successful deliverable.”
A project focused on financial management stood out to Altmann as one that helped her organization build out the processes they’ll need to launch and to be sustainable long-term. Her goal for the project was simple: establish a reporting system that provides her board with what they need to oversee the financial health of the organization while producing reports that are necessary for funders, donors, and grant applications. They connected with a virtual volunteer to set up QuickBooks, which gave Altmann the ability to collect and monitor the right financial data. Working on this project “provided us with a better understanding of the program costs and other financial information necessary for making strategic and operating decisions.” Their volunteer also created training resources and best practices documents that he continues to update on a regular basis. “The QuickBooks project positions our organization to use best practices and be better stewards of the funding we receive,” notes Altmann.
Building a future.
Navigating multiple national crises as a start-up organization gives Altmann a unique perspective on the ways pro bono can make an impact, and she’s not stopping here. Altmann has plans to focus on marketing and communications for their fundraising campaigns, setting up a CRM, and updating their WordPress site. Pro bono is a “professional, effective, and invaluable resource” according to Altmann. And one that they’ll continue to tap into as her organization grows.