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Helping Non-Profits Make Change

Arlington creates a new tool for charitable organizations.

It’s hard enough for a business to turn a profit. If its goal is not making money but, instead, changing the world, that’s even harder.

To help out these non-profit businesses, Arlington has just created a valuable tool to give them the training and expertise they need to better serve the community.

Late last month, the Non-Profit Resource Center officially opened in the Central Library located on North Quincy Street. Its mission is to become a place for the directors and employees of non-profit businesses of all sizes to come for assistance, research and to acquire knowledge about how to better run their organizations.

The resource center was spearheaded by County Board Vice-Chair Walter Tejada (D), who worked with local community leaders for years to bring it to fruition.

"The amazing thing about [the center]," Tejada said, "Is that it looked like it was never going to happen, so now that it [did] we are all very excited."

THE NON-PROFIT RESOURCE CENTER was created by the county’s business promotion department, Arlington Economic Development. Run by Terry Holzheimer, Arlington Economic Development is "dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of an economically vital, competitive, and sustainable community," according to its Web site.

To assist non-profit organizations, the resource center will feature one-on-one counseling from trained professionals as well as seminars on all aspects of non-profit operations.

The seminars are being put on by Virginia Tech University. Tejada said that, when the resource center was first being conceived by county officials, Holzheimer found that the school was looking to get involved.

"It turn[ed] out that Virginia Tech was looking for something similar to what we were already doing," Tejada said.

Several seminars, free for members of any non-profit organizations that are based in Arlington or that serve Arlington, are scheduled for the upcoming weeks and months. Their topics range from fundraising and financial management to legal issues and strategic planning.

Charlotte Franklin works for Arlington Economic Development and she is one its coordinators for the Non-Profit Resource Center.

"We are very, very excited about this," she said. "[The resource center is] full of amazing material. [The] librarian[s] will help them put together any research they need."

Merle Decker is one of those librarians. She is primarily a business librarian at the Central Library but she will now also be operating the Non-Profit Resource Center.

Decker said that one of the most useful things about the resource center is its directory of charitable foundations. The directory lists tens of thousands of organizations that regularly give grants to non-profits and also details information about how to apply for these grants.

Decker said that the resource center is hoping to eventually get an online version of the directory for the resource center so that users can easily search for the foundation that is the best suited for them

But ultimately, Decker said that what the Non-Profit Resource Center offers that is truly valuable is its ability to counsel organizations one-on-one.

"It’s [the] individual research," she said, "And it’s free!"