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Cal-Wood Education Center: SVP event “helped identify priorities”

Posted by jennie

SVP Boulder County recently hosted “Do What We Do,” an interactive event designed to build new relationships, share what it means to be a member, or Partner, of SVP, and assist local nonprofits. (“Do What We Do” is part of our current membership campaign, including a series of social and learning events through June 11.)

Rafael Salgado, Executive Director of the Cal-Wood Education Center, was among the approximately 30 nonprofit representatives, community members, and current Partners who were invited to break into small groups. In a condensed demonstration of SVP’s Catapult program, Salgado was one of two local nonprofit leaders who had the opportunity to present an organizational opportunity or challenge. Through facilitated conversation, each group then asked clarifying questions and brainstormed possible approaches.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never been to an event like this before,” says Salgado. “During the social part of the evening, I was impressed by the people in the room – such a range and depth of backgrounds, skills, and knowledge.

“Once I presented my challenge, they all participated right away. They asked good questions, to better understand the topic and the challenge, and then they shared some really powerful stuff.”

Since 1982, Cal-Wood has been providing life-changing experiences for Colorado youth and their families through its residential science-based school programs, summer camps, and family camp-outs held at a beautiful, mountain site in Jamestown. “We’re established, people know us,” continues Salgado. “But for 36 years, we operated under a family board – the original Cal-Wood donors.

“Now that we have a more diverse board with stronger local representation, we’re ready to take Cal-Wood to a different level … we’re ready for bigger things. To become a self-sustaining organization for the next 36 years and beyond, we’re in the process of making changes to our structure and how we operate, and we’re adding capacity.”

That said – while Salgado rightly assumed that most of the event attendees were familiar with Cal-Wood programs – few knew how Cal-Wood differs from other nonprofits. “In addition to our programs, we also maintain a 1,200 acre forest, and we manage facilities and food services, along with trails, roads…that kind of thing,” he says.

“There are so many things happening at the same time, it’s hard to know what to do first. What do we concentrate on? That was the challenge and the question I presented to the group.”

Adds Salgado, “The feedback I heard most was that it’s time to work on a strategic plan. Hearing that from different perspectives helped identify priorities.

“We’ve done other planning, but never a full strategic plan. The feedback I received brought clarity to the next steps Cal-Wood should take to ensure its sustainability, its future.”

Indeed, Salgado went home with actionable ideas to address his organization’s current challenges and opportunities, while our guests got a taste of what it’s like to be an SVP Partner. And, our current Partners got to do what they love most: helping organizations be their best through a spirit of partnership wherein both parties learn.

“‘Do What We Do’ was a very helpful experience, for sure,” concludes Salgado. We’re inspired by his vision for Cal-Wood, too.

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