Certificate program emphasizes nonprofit experience

Kim Brown

The College of Education, Health and Human Services is in its sixth year of offering the Certificate in Nonprofit Human Service Management to undergraduates and graduates in any academic area.

The certificate is offered through the School of Family and Consumer Studies and is not a major or minor. Students gain experience and knowledge in national and local nonprofit organizations with help for future employability.

“The idea is to graduate from Kent State with any degree,” program director Kathy Bergh said. “A certificate is an area of specialization and gives a student an area of expertise.”

Bergh said the program currently includes 50 graduate students and 38 undergraduates. Curriculum courses focus on nonprofit development, management and leadership skills while acquiring professional experience.

“It came to our attention that a university of this size that has a mission of strategic outreach, engaging the community and giving back to the nonprofits was becoming increasingly apparent in our society,” Bergh said. “We at Kent State University needed to address that niche that was not being filled on campus other than at the masters level.”

Bergh said certificate completion is not only an area of specialization but is beneficial for transcripts and resumes.

The program requires a 300 hour internship with a nonprofit organization and 20 to 30 credit hours set in accordance with Kent’s standards. Students must apply to participate in the program and are encouraged to gain volunteer and community service experience.

The Human Service Management Student Association started with the certificate program as a community service organization. Bergh said students wanted an organization where those involved could participate in service projects and reinforce the learned nonprofit sector experience.

“The main focus of our student organization is helping others, helping the community and getting out there and doing something that makes a difference,” HSMSA president Pam Daly said. “The organization is open to all majors which is nice because there are no specifics.”

Daly, senior human development and family studies major, said she heard about the certificate program her freshman year.

“I thought it would really give me an edge applying for jobs after graduation, and having my baccalaureate and certificate would make me better rounded for a potential employer,” she said.

Amy Ritter, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in human development and family studies, said she started the program in the middle of her sophomore year as an exploratory major.

Ritter said she got involved with the program because her sister was receiving a certificate at another college. She said she decided she wanted to work in nonprofit and work with children.

Ritter is now a resource consultant adviser helping teachers adapt to student needs.

“I found there’s a lot of networking in nonprofit around the area,” Ritter said. “I got my first job (after graduating) because of my internship.”

Daly, who will intern in Washington, D.C., next semester, said that when she started looking for grant writing jobs, she lacked the experience required by employers. The certificate program helped her gain experience.

“I feel like I’m more conscious and more aware of the needs of nonprofits and for profits,” Daly said. “It’s made me more open to the Kent city and university as a community. I think it is really important because there is so much money out there that’s not being used.”

Other colleges, such as Arizona State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of North Carolina and LaSalle University, also offer similar certificate programs.

Contact Education, Health and Human Services reporter Kim Brown at [email protected].