White Birch Community Center Strategic Plan 2015–2020
Be recognized as an exemplary agency supported fully by the businesses and citizens of Henniker and surrounding communities. Have sufficient human and financial resources to provide for any identified need that is within the purview of our mission. Achieve full community awareness of the importance and value of White Birch Community Center to resident’s quality of life. Have total community recognition of the legacy that White Birch Community Center offers to future generations
White Birch Community Center of Henniker enriches the lives of our citizens by providing social, education and recreation programs for families, children, and adults in a stimulating, supportive and safe environment.
Who We Serve
- Citizens of Henniker and surrounding communities
- Parents and children of Henniker residents and those in surrounding communities or working in, or near, this community
- Seniors of Henniker and surrounding communities
Our Programs and Services
WBCC accomplishes its mission in 3 ways:
- Providing License Plus Child Care for children ages 1-‐5 years old
- Providing School Age Programming for children aged 5-‐14
- Providing senior programming
Our Goals: 2015–2020
- Goal 1 – Define, enhance and maintain relationship with organization benefactor
- Goal 2 – Strengthen existing White Birch Community Center programs by investing in facility and technology needs
- Goal 3 – Determine the identity and role of White Birch Community Center in the community and the feasibility of adding new programs
- Goal 4 – Enhance development and public relations efforts Goal 5 – Strengthen Board structure and accountability
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
White Birch Community Center has long been recognized as an integral part of the greater Henniker community. As a private, non-profit organization, our mission stands strong: White Birch Community Center enriches the lives of our citizens by providing social, education, and recreation programs for families, children, and adults in a stimulating, supportive, and safe environment. Not only is White Birch one of the largest non-‐profit agencies in Henniker, it is the largest licensed child care agency in the greater Henniker area.
Incorporated in 1982 by Lucia Evans, White Birch Community Center has been serving Henniker and its surrounding communities for more than 30 years. After more than three decades of offering primarily child care, school age and senior programs to the community, White Birch continues to search for new and innovative programs to meet community needs. As a part of that search, the Board of Directors has recently embarked on a strategic plan for the next three to five years. That plan will evaluate our current capabilities, examine our current mission, evaluate our facility and technology needs, and focus on maintaining a strong Board.
DESCRIPTION of ORGANIZATIONAL COMPETENCIES
White Birch is a License Plus Child Care Center – That means we meet a higher quality designation, as determined by the state, than most other child care agencies. Only 15% of all child care centers in New Hampshire are Licensed Plus. All of our child care teachers are credentialed by the state and must meet continuing education requirements each year. We have a curriculum that is in place with the understanding that learning does not begin in Kindergarten; it begins at birth, and early childhood learning is essential in a child’s life.
White Birch also has a Health and Fitness Education Specialist who works in each classroom almost every day and we have an Arts and Humanities program where we invite artists of various types to perform for each classroom approximately once per month. Our Child Care Program is all about early learning and preparing children for their school years. Our rules are, whenever possible, are the same rules used at Henniker Community School. In fact, we even take our childhood preparation to the point where we have the same playground rules as the school so the children are even prepared for recess. There are 78 children enrolled in our child care program from 9 different communities.
SCHOOL AGE PROGRAMMING
School Age Programming is not babysitting. White Birch works with the school to develop curriculums for our programs that dovetail with the school’s needs. It is important to note that our Director of School Age Programs, Leanna Lorden, and our Site Director, Meghan Henry, are Certified Elementary School Teachers. The programming is held at the school because we have no room at White Birch and there is very little transition that children have to endure each day before and after school when the programming is at the school. There are currently 45 children enrolled in the Before and After School Programs. All of these children live in Henniker.
The White Birch Senior Program focuses on health, fitness, outreach, education, and social enrichment opportunities for the senior population in Henniker and surrounding communities. Our programs for health include a venue for flu vaccinations, hosting the Concord Regional Visiting Nurses Association, Dial-A-Ride outreach to get seniors to medical appointments, and various, medically supervised, fitness programs. Social and enrichment programming includes knitting, book clubs, Ted Talks, free luncheons, board games, as well as education programming like estate planning, Medicare assistance, and AARP Driving education.
FEEDBACK -‐ Based on surveys and interviews with the public, staff, and key community members, the following list was generated of perceived strengths of White Birch Center and it programs:
- Understanding and commitment to families and seniors
- Great preschool program
- Quality of preschool teachers—degrees, credentialed and licensed
- Decision making process among staff—begin with “what is the right thing to do?”
- Potential to do more
- Fiscally responsible and accountable
- Change from private preschool to full-‐time childcare
- Comfortable place for seniors with activities and friendships
- Last five years have seen growth in after school program
- Ability to “think bigger” than other community agencies
- Ability to get close to clients
- Job satisfaction
- Team has good relationship—open, safe environment, ideas encouraged, brainstorming, ability to express honest reactions to ideas, focus is on impact of the programs
- Trusting relationship with Executive Director
- Improved communication with Board
- Board member who volunteers at WBC has good perspective of organization’s purpose and programs
- Strong communication between teachers and parents
- Strong relationships among teaching staff
- Good place to try out theories
- Flexibility and ability to adapt
- Good interaction among all age groups
STRATEGIC GOALS IN DEPTH -‐The following is a more detailed perspective and key findings as they relate to the five goals of the strategic plan as well as recommendations by Executive Service Corps regarding those goals:
Strategic Goal # 1: Define, enhance and maintain relationship with organization benefactor
Key Findings and Perspectives:
- This goal was recommended by the Board as a key initiative that required a better understanding of the role of the benefactor and a better understanding of the level of involvement the benefactor is interested in having in WBC. With the benefactor also being the founder of WBC and with a family representative on the Board as an emeritus member, Board members had been understandably concerned with the level of discussions they could/should have regarding annual gifts.
- Prioritizing the needs of the organization on an annual basis is an important part of any discussion with the benefactor so that everyone is focusing on the same plan for WBC. This should be done prior to the annual budgeting process and be reviewed regularly by the Board.
- Determining the program and facility needs of WBC is a good opportunity to involve community members on a task force or committee to provide input and assist WBC to reach out to the community more effectively.
- It is the Board Chair’s responsibility to initiate a communication “plan” with the benefactor and to ensure that communication is consistent, transparent, respectful, and reflects the benefactor’s interest and investment in
- During the retreat discussion it became apparent that the benefactor is solely interested in the well-being of the organization and the impact it has on the town. The description of the tenant-landlord relationship is important for all future Board members to
- Establish an ad hoc committee of the Board to outline a communication plan and implement it on a consistent basis. The plan would have formal and informal communication actions. Board Chair is responsible for execution.
- Create two task forces—Program and Facilities—to work with the Executive Director to identify an annual prioritized list of the needs of WBC to present to the Board and the benefactor.
STRATEGIC GOAL # 2: Strengthen existing WBC programs by investing in facility and technology needs
Key Findings and Perspectives:
- WBC has a challenge that many nonprofits face: in the execution of its mission it has exhausted its capacity for growth of its core programs.
- Unlike many nonprofits, WBC does have funding to address some of the more pressing needs during the 2015‐16 budget year. The Board needs to discuss the use of some of the gift beyond what has been spent to purchase the building next door to meet the immediate facility, staffing and technology needs of WBC, knowing that there was a public statement made that the gift would not be used for operations.
- The opportunity exists to involve clients and community members in task forces/committees to identify WBC needs.
- The ED position responsibilities are not delineated by priority or supplemented in certain areas by task forces or ad hoc committees. In particular, the Board can take action to be prepared to discuss certain issues at regular meetings without needing a lengthy explanation at the time of the
- Begin discussion around use of a portion of gift to address immediate needs.
- Create a process to identify and prioritize facility, technology and program needs to Board on an annual basis.
- Establish several task forces/committees to facilitate above, e.g. Facilities, Program, Parent Advisory, Senior Advisory.
- Involve community members and clients in groups.
- Review ED job description.
Strategic Goal # 3: Determine the identity and role of WBC in the community and the feasibility of adding new programs
Key Findings and Perspectives:
- The community needs assessment and interviews showed strong support for the three core businesses of WBC: early childcare/ education, school age program and senior program.
- Interviews also acknowledged the constraints of space for expansion of current programs.
- Other possible programs that showed community support for being within WBC’s scope of service include referrals to community resources, social/emotional support programs, and
- There is consistent, strong community support for current WBC programs.
- The identity of WBC is a concern in terms of public perception. With the term “community center” in its name, it could be confused with other towns’ community centers that provide other programs in the areas of recreation and athletics.
- The mission of WBC does not clearly state the activities of the current organization and may also need to be changed to reflect the addition of other services.
- The environmental scan shows that the group demonstrating the fastest growth in the next 10 years is the > 65 age group and WBC has the ability to grow its senior activities into a model, comprehensive program.
- There is a strong pull between expanding the childcare programs that are revenue generating and the senior program, which is an expense for WBC.
- Create an ad hoc committee of the Board to recommend the feasibility of expanding programs in the current facility and study the potential for adding new
- Begin discussion of a name change for the organization that more accurately depicts the programs/services offered.
- After program expansions and or additions are determined, review the mission statement to more accurately reflect WBC’s value to the
- Develop pro forma budgets for each expanded/new program.
- Investigate alternative space in town for senior program.
- Consider the possibility of a capital campaign for space needs. Build upon the fundraising plan that will be developed and implemented in
Strategic Goal # 4: Enhance development and public relations efforts
Key Findings and Perspectives:
- WBC fundraising to date has depended on grants, a special event, and an annual fund with no targeted goals or administrative structure in place to support the fundraising efforts.
- The benefactor’s gifts surpass all other non-operational fundraising by $15,000 on an annual basis. This raises a concern that WBC is overly dependent on one funder.
While the benefactor has stated that funding will continue, WBC needs to demonstrate its ability to increase other funding.
- WBC needs a professional development staff member who can develop and implement a specific fundraising plan. Initially this position could be part-time in order to align with the 2015-‐16
- The statement was made that the benefactor would be encouraged to see WBC raising additional funds for its needs. It is important that the benefactor know the needs of the organization and what WBC is doing to fund some of them.
- The ED is highly regarded in the community and has made significant progress in collaborating with other service programs and community organizations in Henniker. The responsibility could be shared with Board members in order to free up some ED time to focus on administrative and staff efforts.
- Hire a professional development staff member with public relations experience.
- Engage the consulting services of ESC to work with ED and Board to write the development position job description, aid in recruitment, candidate screening, and interviews in order to fill this position by Dec. 2015.
- Develop a two-‐year fundraising plan.
- Increase WBCC’s visibility in the community with a specific marketing/public relations plan.
STRATEGIC GOAL # 5: Strengthen Board structure and accountability
Key Findings and Perspectives:
- The Board Self-‐Assessment provides an opportunity to address some concerns noted by Board members regarding organizational information and Board member satisfaction.
- Much of the work in the strategic plan can be accomplished in committees, task forces or ad hoc committees, freeing Board meeting time for discussion of the strategic goals and planning.
- As was stated at the retreat, the Board often finds itself spending time on details (weeds) and now has the opportunity to raise the level of its deliberations to a more strategic level.
- The community expressed its support of the current Board and its community focus. This is an opportunity to build on that with more outreach.
- The strategic plan places a great deal of leadership responsibility on the Board Chair.
- Address the top 4 areas of concern specified in the Board Self-Assessment.
- Review by-laws to ensure committee structure meets the need for working committees.
- Consider changing the Nominating Committee to a Leadership Committee with the charge to identify community members for working groups and as potential future Board members.
- Review strategic plan regularly, updating with progress and/or adding more action steps as needed.
- Consider a leadership coaching relationship with ESC to strengthen the implementation of the strategic plan, especially in the first two years.
Adopted on July 29, 2015 by the Board of Directors