Vice President of Affiliate Services
Youth Volunteer Corps of America
Shawnee Mission, Kan.
About YVCA: YVCA was established by David Battey in 1986 to provide community-based service learning for youth in Kansas City. In 1990, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gave YVCA a $1 million grant to expand the program around the country. Today, the organization’s 42 affiliates (many of them local YMCA, Camp Fire or Boys & Girls Clubs sites) operate summer and school-year youth volunteer programs in 23 states and two Canadian provinces.
Her Job: Elliott helps to expand the YVCA network of affiliates, provides assistance to existing affiliates and manages YVCA’s AmeriCorps grant. She assesses affiliates’ programs and suggests changes to fit their needs. In an agency with just four full-time staff members, she also deals with accounting, organization funding, payrolls and other managerial logistics.
Best Part of the Job: “Working with the affiliates and seeing how different the needs of organizations are, depending on if they operate in small cities or large cities. We are a very bottom-up organization, and affiliates are surprised about how flexible we are when coordinating programs with them. It’s like a breath of fresh air for them.”
Worst Part of the Job: “Not being able to give certain organizations more money. It’s such a helpless feeling when you see an affiliate struggle.”
Memorable Moment: “YVCA’s Youth Summit in June 2007. We had one of the youth volunteers speak at the conference, thanking our founder for exposing him to great activities. Our founder, David, got all choked up. …
“This kid was so appreciative, and that means so much to all our staffers. And it shows, because our staff members stay with the organization so much longer than most nonprofit workers stay with other organizations. We have a stability that is unheard of in the nonprofit world.”
Community Service Requirements: “It’s a double-edged sword. At first they may think of it as only a graduation requirement, but once they start participating in the project, they realize they may actually like it, learn from it and return to do another project.”
Keeping Affiliates True to the Model: “We have basic program standards, such as racial diversity, economic diversity, religious diversity. We … give a lot of rein for programs to tell us what works in their communities. But if programs only bring kids from an urban core, we help them reach out to kids in wealthy suburbs, and we’ll come out and do some training with them. We will also help pay for an organization to visit another one of our programs as an example to learn from.”
Tough Times for Affiliates: “I’ve been calling all of the affiliates to find out how the economy is affecting them. A lot of them have been affected by foundations changing emphasis to different areas [from] volunteer recruitment. For the last five years, prominent volunteer centers have lost funding and gone out of business.”
K.C. as H.Q.: “It’s awesome as a hub, because people can fly from here to pretty much anywhere fairly quickly and really cheap.”