WILLIAMSBURG - Williamsburg County members of Francis Marion University’s Rural Area Leadership Initiative (RALI), a component of its Rural Assistance Initiative (RAI), and FMU officials gathered recently to announce next steps for establishing a non-profit organization to guide the project.
Funded through the General Assembly and the PSARAS Foundation, RALI is an extensive leadership training program for non-profit and civic organizations throughout the state. FMU already houses the state’s premier training for non-profit leaders through the Non-Profit Leadership Institute (NPLI). Led by NPLI Director Fred Sheheen, and Jay Dowd, vice president for development and executive director of the FMU Foundation, the initiative is an extension of these services but will also include leadership training for civic organizations. In addition, to receive this training, leaders won’t have to leave their communities.
Phase II of the initiative calls for each RALI group (Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg) to apply for a 501c (3) charter as a non-profit corporation, with members in the original RALI group serving as members of the initial board of directors.
Williamsburg County RALI members are Kenneth M. Barr, Norma Bartelle, Theresa Brooks, Mauretta W. Dorsey, Louise Marshall Easterling, Charlie Fulton, Kim Harmon, Carletta Israel, Ernest Jarrett, Michael Johnson, Colleen Kelty, Glen Kennedy, Dewayne McClary, H. Bryan Todd and Stan Williamson. Jannie Cooper is the Williamsburg County RALI liaison.
“As a part of the university’s ongoing commitment of outreach to our neighboring communities and by fulfilling a significant component of its mission, we are very excited about being able to sponsor this leadership development initiative,” said Dowd. “After concluding their six-month classroom experience, the participants now move forward with the establishment of a non-profit with the goal of impacting the quality of life in their respective communities.”
According to FMU officials and RALI members, the goal of the initiative began with the recognition that some economically disadvantaged counties in South Carolina may also be disadvantaged in civic capacity. Through RALI, groups will build coalitions for problem-solving by identifying problems and taking informed ownership of solutions, thereby increasing civic capacity.
The vehicle chosen to cultivate a continued effort is the creation of a non-profit organization. To form the non-profit, members will first file for an article of incorporation with the South Carolina Secretary of State. Then, the group must secure the federal income tax exemption by filing the appropriate form with the Internal Revenue Service. The process takes approximately six months.
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