The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, the largest charitable endowment in the city, is funding and developing a first-of-its-kind study to better understand the needs of the hundreds of nonprofit organizations that serve the Arlington community.
In addition to underwriting the research project, the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation engaged United Way of Tarrant County, the City of Arlington, and The University of Texas at Arlington to help design and launch the State of the Sector: Catalyzing a Thriving Nonprofit Community initiative. The innovative initiative, which includes an 18-month comprehensive research study that begins this month, is a big step forward in understanding the needs of area nonprofits whose missions vary from arts and culture to education to animal welfare to human services.
“We recognized the overall health and strength of the nonprofit sector is critical,” said Carolyn Mentesana, Arlington Tomorrow Foundation executive director. “This deliberate, academic research will help us better know our nonprofit sector, which in turn will help us be more strategic and proactive when it comes to funding programs and projects to benefit our community.”
The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, which is underwriting the study, has provided almost $43 million in grants to nearly 500 projects and programs since its inception in 2007.
“We have seen hundreds of grant applications and have funded hundreds of projects in our 15-year history,” Mentesana said. “With its collective knowledge over the past decade, the board took a step back and said, ‘We have the potential to be more than a check-writing organization. What can we do to strengthen the entire sector to help ensure our grant-making efforts are creating a thriving community where the most effective programming is providing the greatest good?'”
The foundation has partnered with the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA) researchers at UT Arlington for the State of the Sector initiative. The initiative seeks to develop an interactive data dashboard, a one-day workshop and a published report in 2024 designed to help Arlington nonprofits attract and retain talent, become more fiscally secure, adopt new processes and mechanisms for success, diversify funding streams and document their success post-pandemic.