Alcorn hosts President’s Summit on Community Engagement

Volunteer Mississippi’s Engage Mississippi Summit, in partnership with Alcorn State University, made its way to the University to shed light on community outreach.

The President’s Summit on Community Engagement was held Wednesday, Dec. 7 in the Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. Dining Facility. Topics of discussion included communicating with potential funders and nonprofit organizations.

Volunteer Mississippi’s mission is to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. Established in 1994 as the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, Volunteer Mississippi has worked to encourage a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility to America.

Jane Alexander, president and CEO for the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, gave the audience tips on how to talk to potential funders. She said that the key component to reaching funders is by tying in personal stories of need and success with proposals.

“A lot of programs talk to funders by describing numbers, but the best way for your organization to stand out among the rest is to make your proposals personal,” said Alexander. “Funders want to see organizations making a difference in Mississippi, so it is best to tell them about life changing experiences.”

Joe Donovan, director for Entrepreneur Center at the Mississippi Development Authority, focused on the importance of organizations keeping up with their statistics for future success.

“The data you collect makes a huge difference because it will significantly increase your company’s revenue,” said Donovan.

Alcorn President Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. brought attention to Mississippi’s strongest attribute, which is engaging with the community.

“The state of Mississippi shines is in the areas of community service, outreach and engagement and volunteerism,” said Rankins. “We have the opportunity to engage with our community and change the lives of those who live in them. I’m glad that we have leaders who are capable of leading change.”

Mayor for the city of Natchez Darryl Grennell credited the elders of Natchez for getting him involved in community service at an early age.

“It’s important to get the young people involved in volunteerism,” said Grennell. “I was a very shy child, but the leadership of those that surrounded me in my community got me involved at an early age. That helped me to come out of my shell and become more visible in the community. When you introduce the youth to community service at a young age, it will become a way of life for them when they become adults.”

Other panelists who spoke at the event were Mayor George Flaggs, City of Vicksburg, and Ronnie Agnew, executive director for Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Executive Director for Volunteer Mississippi David Mallery ended the event by encouraging continuous change in surrounding communities.

“We want to continue promoting social change in Mississippi through community service and volunteerism because we have the ability to take charity and goodness to a new level,” said Mallery.

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