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"Make Lemonade!"

As we all know, this year has presented so many unforeseen challenges. At the beginning of the 2020 HALO Award program year, the Foundation paused to carefully consider how the circumstances would impact the HALO experience for the six organizations that make up Cohort 9.

  • Do organizations have the space and capacity to focus on their volunteer programs at this time?

  • Organizations are being stretched to meet the immediate and urgent needs of the communities they serve. Is long-term strategic planning a relevant topic in this moment?

  • In light of the Safer at Home orders and social distancing, how will organizations be able to thoughtfully engage and activate their volunteers?

Like so many organizations, we made the decision to shift the HALO Award program to an online format. Again, we considered the implications of delivering the capacity building program, which is specifically designed in a cohort format to foster peer learning and relationships, virtually.

Now over halfway through Cohort 9’s program year, we are thrilled and encouraged by the way Cohort 9 has used this moment to think strategically, pivot creatively, and engage thoughtfully with each other during the Peer Learning Sessions and beyond. Though the challenges of this time remain, the circumstances have also allowed for deeper thinking around volunteerism and how volunteer programs strengthen organizations and enable them to meet their missions.

“By providing us the opportunity to engage our team in creating a Volunteer Management Plan, the [HALO Award] has enabled us to address emerging challenges as well as recognize new opportunities and design solutions to pivot our programming accordingly.”

– Cohort 9 participant

While there are still many questions and unknowns around what volunteer recruitment, engagement, and retention will look like in the coming months, the organizations that make up Cohort 9 – Community Coalition, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, My Friend’s Place, POPS the Club, St. Joseph Center, and Stepping Forward LA – have taken the time to think critically and identify the possibilities that lie in their volunteer programs. We look forward to continuing this journey!



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