Case Study

Finding Leaders to Power New Strategies that help South Bronx Families and Seniors

In 2019, Step Up for Better Living developed a Strategic Plan to address several operational challenges - among them, the need to increase fundraising, expand programs, develop social media tools, and investment planning. One key objective that was included in the strategic plan was the need to increase the size of the Board of Directors. 


In 2020, Step for Better Living participated in BoardLead. Through Cause Strategy Partners' matching and placement program, they were introduced to three standout board candidates; Erinn Mallory Kolp- Linkedin Learning Leader for Customer Success; Patricia (Patti) Bartos- PricewaterhouseCoopers Strategic Initiatives Officer; and Omid Tashayod- Credit Suisse Director of Investment BankingAll three joined the Step Up for Better Living Board. These BoardLeaders have helped Step Up for Better Living meet and exceed its strategic objectives.

New Board Members Propel Fundraising Efforts

Step Up for Better Living changed from an organization that did very little fundraising to an organization that developed a culture of fundraising. Since Erinn, Patti, and Omid joined the board, they have deeply impacted fundraising. All served as fundraising ambassadors by recruiting donors, assisted in event planning, and conducted outreach to community groups.  Patti connected with the organization’s staff to arrange for a holiday toy donation drive for the children in the South Bronx. Erinn was instrumental in crowdfunding to help meet its fundraising goals, leveraging her network. With a renewed culture of fundraising, Step Up for Better Living has hosted two fundraisers, one virtual fundraiser in 2021 and an in-person fundraiser in 2022. Increased efforts in 2023 include an exciting plan for a twenty-five-year fundraising gala!

Setting an organization up for program expansion and deeper impact in their community

All 3 BoardLeaders participated in planning for the largest program expansion in Step Up for Better Living history, which resulted in the design, development, and implementation of the Emergency Food Fund, a program designed to bring emergency food to residents in the South Bronx struggling to put food on the table. Their involvement included attending planning meetings and visiting local food pantries. Standout board member Patti, took steps to learn more about the needs of local food pantries. She visited a local food pantry and provided valuable feedback that informed how Step Up for Better Living could implement its emergency food program.

In 2018 and 2019, Step Up for Better Living provided access to emergency food to 200 people. In 2020 and 2021, the organization provided access to emergency food to 5,000 people.

Increasing an Organization’s Digital Presence

In 2019 Step Up for Better Living had no social media presence.  Then, in 2020, the agency created Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram profiles. As a result of board member Erinn Mallory Kolp’s knowledge of online giving programs, Step Up for Better Living was able to enroll in an online giving program that specializes in workplace giving and matching donations. The agency now receives periodic donations online. Step Up for Better Living has since expanded its capacity to use online giving platforms through the agency website which has been modernized to link with all social media channels.


Impassioned BoardLeaders Ascend to Leadership in the Boardroom

As a result of their tireless efforts to support the Step Up for Better Living mission and programs, each Board Lead member of the Class of 2020 is now an officer of the Board. Erinn has been appointed to serve as the Vice President, Patti is now the Board Treasurer and Omid is the Secretary of the Board. Step Up for Better Living will continue its efforts to grow the agency and has plans to add more BoardLeaders like Erinn, Patti, and Omid.

About Step Up for Better Living

Located in the south Bronx, Step Up for Better Living works with low-income individuals and families who are food insecure, at risk of homelessness, and who need access to educational assistance and employment support. The organization's mission is to help people in need achieve and sustain stability, wellness, and self-sufficiency. Clients served by Step Up for Better Living include low-income families, seniors, young adults, and children.

Contributing Authors:

Louis Rodriguez, Ph.D. MBA, MSW,  Co-Executive Director Agency Growth and Cheryl Dennis, MPA, Co-Executive Director Agency Service Excellence


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