Interning at The Osborne Association has been an amazing experience. I can’t believe that I’m now halfway done. Everyone has opened their offices to me and helped me out so much in my short time here, which has enabled me to learn much more than I ever thought I would. Before I started my internship my goal was just to understand the financial structure of a sec. 501.C.3 organization, but I soon realized that a non-profit organization is much more than the donations and grants it needs in order to run.
After attending the Social Impact Exchange’s Symposium on Scaling Social Impact, I realized that the quality of an organization is measured by their overall impact. While listening to the speakers at the Symposium, one of the main ideas that stuck with me is that an organization must stay true to its mission and follow through on the internal commitments they have made instead of trying to adapt to grants that are available or to try to appease foundations and donors by becoming other than what they intended. It is very easy to get sidetracked by other demands, temptations and opportunities available. I’m lucky to be interning at an organization that maintains a strong inner compass and illustrates how to secure funding and create partnerships that stay true to its own mission.
By working in the Development Department in Osborne’s Bronx office, I have seen how Osborne has been able to maintain funding from the New York’s Department of Criminal Justice Services for successful programs such as the Green Career Center, which helps individuals who are formerly incarcerated receive the tools they to secure living wage jobs, and the Court Advocacy Services, which helps keep people from having to be incarcerated through appropriate and effective alternative rehabilitation and mental health programs. I also learned a lot about social impact bonds, which have allowed The Osborne Association to run vital programs on Riker’s Island in order to reduce recidivism by an estimated ten percent.
While working in Development has shown me the importance of finding the proper funding, my work in Osborne’s Brooklyn office has shown me the importance of developing the proper partnerships. I helped create the questionnaire and chose the different tele-visiting programs out of many across the nation that the National Institute of Corrections will interview in order to report on the use of tele-visiting for families and children to visit their incarcerated loved ones.
I have seen the incredible impact that The Osborne Association has had over its 80 year existence because of the programs it has been able to run so successfully. I personally answered letters and phone calls from people who requested help on issues ranging from keeping people from ever going prison to helping people who have been incarcerated for decades get their life together and change for the better. I continue to learn about new programs, even outside of the New York area, that I can refer people to who call and write to Osborne for help. I hope to keep growing and learning all that I can about how to make and sustain the powerful impact an organization like Osborne has.