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Provides ‘Collective Sense of Purpose in the Face of this Crisis and Furthers the Camaraderie that Prevails Among the Region’s Organizations’

News Release, Nonprofit Institute at CSM

During emergencies, Southern Maryland’s most vulnerable populations turn to the same familiar faces they interact with routinely from their area community-based nonprofit organizations. That’s why when the news of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) immediately heightened its operations to help local nonprofit leaders maintain their critical services as well as navigate the many applications for desperately needed COVID-19 relief loans and grant money.

 “We understood right away, that the demand for federal, state and regional loans and grants would be depleted in mere days,” said NPI Coordinator for Charles County Cara Fogarty. “We mobilized and focused our outreach to offer a clearinghouse of guidance and advice to help our nonprofits so they could continue to help others.”

These unprecedented days are highlighting the importance of the Nonprofit Institute at CSM – and community colleges, in general – who serve as comprehensive resource partners for businesses and nonprofits organizations year around. NPI has been offering the region’s 2,600 nonprofit organizations targeted training, consulting and networking opportunities for 10 years.

“Organizations of all sizes need clarity on funding, forgivable loans and a dedicated funding stream so they aren’t competing with for-profit entities for the funding that enables them to run homeless shelters, residential centers for foster youth, emergency child care centers, homes for seniors and individuals with disabilities, food banks, and more in this time of crisis,” confirmed Susan N. Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities in article ‘Nonprofits Getting PPP Loans, Others Laying Off Staff’ published in the April 29 edition of TheNonProfitTimes.  

In mid-March, NPI pivoted to turn its monthly newsletter into a weekly COVID-19 briefing sheet and began updating its website on a daily basis to ensure current information on COVID-19 resources and virtual networking opportunities were relevant and visible for its clients. The weekly brief included nonprofit-specific information, resources and website links to corporate, government and philanthropic COVID-19 funding sources.

“The Nonprofit Institute is a tremendous asset for Southern Maryland,” shared The Arc Southern Maryland Director of Development Renee Seigley. “Their training and networking opportunities are some of the best. In the midst of tackling this pandemic, we have counted on the Institute to identify relevant resources to help us support our clients.”  The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and serving them and their families.

Working with Southern Maryland’s United Way in Charles and St. Mary’s counties, the Nonprofit Institute went a step further to establish weekly virtual meetings to keep them abreast of the most current opportunities, including access to Personal Protection Equipment. These meetings continue to provide time for nonprofit leaders to share how each are adapting to dramatically increased demand while social distancing. Representatives of county governments, public schools, social services, aging and human services and the local management board also participate.

According to NPI Coordinator for St. Mary’s County Robin Finnacom, connecting weekly for an hour “strengthens a collective sense of purpose in the face of this crisis and furthers the camaraderie that prevails among the region’s organizations.”

“The United Way of Charles County is proud to expand our work with the Nonprofit Institute at CSM in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” echoed Mike Bellis. Bellis is the United Way executive director for Charles County. “The Nonprofit Institute has a long-standing track record of supporting the success of nonprofits throughout the region. And they are by our side again helping to answer the call when we need them most.”

St. Mary’s County Government Department of Aging and Human Services Division Manager Cynthia Brown agreed.

“The beauty of the virtual meeting is the ease of dialogue,” Brown shared. “We learned several of us are working on the same issues but may not have had the chance to have those valuable conversations about coordination and maximizing resources.”

“Our Nonprofit Institute is just one example of how community colleges provide so much more than just an affordable higher education,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “We are all committed to enhancing the lives of everyone in our community and it’s humbling to watch – and join – our students, faculty, and staff as we continue to stretch our time and go above and beyond to help our communities respond to the crisis.”

To participate in the weekly Nonprofit Institute’s COVID-19 Community Response meetings, email a request to nonprofit@csmd.edu.

Meet the Nonprofit Institute at CSM Team

The Nonprofit Institute is staffed by three part-time employees: Fogarty, Finnacom and Michelle Sullivan. Staff also work hand-in-hand with the Maryland Small Business Development Center, Southern Region as every nonprofit is a small business.

Cara Fogerty

Fogarty has been a member of the staff since 2016. She is also an adjunct instructor at CSM and a freelance social media manager. Prior to working in the nonprofit arena, Fogarty was a journalist in both commercial and public radio and also served as the supervising online editor for NPR.org in the early days of the web. She issues the Nonprofit Institute’s weekly COVID-19 brief and updates the Institute’s website on a daily basis to ensure that nonprofits have the most current information on COVID 19 resources and virtual networking opportunities.

Michelle Sullivan

Sullivan ensures that nonprofits can weed through the complexities of COVID-19 federal and state loans and grants and other sources of crisis mitigation funding. In addition to her work at CSM, Sullivan directs All Ages Read Together, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating children in need with free preschool programs. As director, she has personal experience navigating the federal Payroll Protection Program and was recently approved for funding to sustain her nonprofit organization. In response to the crisis, she hosts biweekly Nonprofit Institute virtual meetings focused on COVID-19 fundraising strategies, donor engagement, resources and grants. To participate in the Nonprofit Fundraising Network meetings, email a request to nonprofit@csmd.edu

As the newest member of the team, Finnacom, who joined the staff in January, provides support to nonprofits serving residents in St. Mary’s County. 

Robin Finnacom

“We are thrilled that Robin joined our CSM family,” said CSM Associate Vice President of Continuing Education & Workforce Development Ellen Flowers-Fields. Fields oversees the Nonprofit Institute. “She has a trusted and respected reputation in St. Mary’s County, with more than 40 years of business and economic development experience, she was a natural fit to lead the efforts of the Nonprofit Institute in St. Mary’s.”

The Nonprofit Institute maintains a curated list of new and updated grants, free webinars, tools, articles, links to helpful websites and more that relate to nonprofits’ current challenges at https://bit.ly/NonprofitInstituteCOVID19Resources. While the staff works remotely, consultation to individual nonprofit organizations is still available.

For more about the Nonprofit Institute and its services, call 301-934-7544 or visit www.csmd.edu/community/institutes/nonprofit-institute/.

Coronavirus Update

CSM will maintain a virtual learning environment for its students, and faculty and staff will continue to operate remotely, or in restricted mode, through Aug. 16, 2020. CSM’s campuses remain restricted to pre-approved and authorized personnel. This date may again be extended as CSM stands united with the nation in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Along with limiting public access to campuses, CSM has made several operational changes that can be tracked at ready.csmd.edu/covid-19/.  Please visit the website often for resources and updates.

Students should make sure they are monitoring their CSM student email accounts, as well as the MyLearning course shells for their individual courses, and stay in close contact with their professors if they have any questions about their courses.

CSM remains in contact with local, state and federal authorities, and will share information as quickly as possible when and if these new operating conditions change.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...