November 14, 2022

FMU’s Helping Hand for Non-Profits is Back

FMU’s Helping Hand for Non-Profits is Back

FMU's Helping Hand for Non-Profits is Back

man speaking to room

After a short break, NPLI is back.

Non-profits in the Pee Dee and across South Carolina couldn’t be happier.

NPLI — formally, the Fred R. Sheheen Non-Profit Leadership Institute — is a 21-year-old initiative created by its namesake in conjunction with his long-time friend and associate, FMU President Dr. Fred Carter. NPLI addresses the need for an ongoing, leadership education program for non-profit leaders in the region. Carter and Sheheen knew that non-profits played important roles in improving lives and enhancing communities. They also knew that many needed help in organizing and growing their organizations.

Carter renamed the program — originally, it was just the Non-Profit Leadership Institute — in Sheheen’s honor in 2017 after his passing. Besides leading NPLI, Sheheen enjoyed a sterling career in journalism and governmental leadership.

“The program allows the university to provide valuable resources to the South Carolina non-profit community,” says Lauren Stanton, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, which helps manage the program. “This institute provides participants with the opportunity to learn from a diverse panel of subject matter experts and to engage with their peers from around the state.  It is an honor to support their missions and help further their success.”

“Non-profit leaders are vital because they do such noble work in our community by helping to improve the quality of life for so many,” says Chuck MacNeil, who succeeded Sheheen as Director of NPLI. “NPLI provides them with an opportunity to learn skills and techniques to improve effectiveness and efficiency.”

Since its founding, NPLI has helped more than 400 non-profit leaders from 200-plus organizations sharpen their skills and build support networks. The program brings the leaders in each NPLI class together for 11 sessions across seven months on a variety of subjects. Topics covered include human resource development, financial resource development and management, public policy and more. Each session is led by a recognized expert in their respective field, including non-profit leaders, seasoned university faculty members, public officials and even NPLI graduates. The interactive sessions include discussion and case studies.

Through the course, participants can explore cutting edge and time-tested strategies that can enhance numerous aspects of their organizations. Non-profit leaders also have the chance to form strong professional relationships with others from organizations from across South Carolina in a cohort setting.

NPLI classes are one of FMU’s best-known community outreach programs. Classes are almost always full, and as word has spread, non-profit leaders have come from farther and farther away to participate.

That momentum was interrupted two years ago when classes were suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes resumed this fall. Pent up interest quickly filled the class with 30 participants. A waiting list for future classes also had to be created.

NPLI classes are held at The Continuum in Lake City, a regional center for education and workforce development.

Upon successful completion of the program, participants are awarded the NPLI Certificate and earn three hours of college credit for a Non-Profit Management class at Francis Marion University.

man smiling

Remembering Fred R. Sheheen

Fred R. Sheheen, a Camden, SC native whose career was spent in public service to the people of South Carolina, was the longtime director of the NPLI, and poured his heart and soul into the unique organization, which offered affordable education and mentorship to leaders of non-profit organizations across the state. Sheheen was killed in a tragic auto accident in fall 2016.

In addition to naming NPLI in his honor, FMU also established a university scholarship in Sheheen’s name. Furthermore, an annual non-profit service award bestowed annually by the South Carolina Association of Non-Profit Organizations (SCANPO) was named for Sheheen.

Remembered as a champion of higher education, he served as the head of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, which oversees public colleges and universities, from 1987 to 1997. Sheheen graduated from Duke University in the late 1950s and began his career as a journalist at The Charlotte Observer, focusing on civil rights issues.

Sheheen later worked as an aide for S.C. Gov. Donald Russell before moving into the world of South Carolina higher education. He served as the director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education from 1987-1997.

After leaving the CHE, Sheheen moved into his role as director of the fledgling NPLI, as well as continuing to work with a variety of non-profit and public boards and organizations in the state.

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