LA PORTE — Nineteen nonprofit leaders from throughout La Porte County recently embarked on a journey together to grow as professionals. Last week the third group of the HFL Nonprofit Leadership Academy began with two full days of classes covering Nonprofit Management for the 21st Century, taught by Professor Beth Gazley of Indiana University-Bloomington.  

Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) is driven by a mission to empower La Porte County residents to live healthy and well. One of the main strategies HFL employs to support this mission is capacity building. As defined by the National Council of Nonprofits, “Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively advance its mission.” Capacity building is not a one-time effort but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable organization.  

The HFL Nonprofit Leadership Academy is one type of capacity building HFL provides to La Porte County nonprofits. By supporting the professional growth of nonprofit leaders, HFL enables local nonprofits to better serve their clients and the community. HFL funds the Academy to strengthen nonprofit leaders, who in turn strengthen the nonprofit organizations they lead and the organizations’ effectiveness in the communities they serve.  

In addition to funding the Academy, HFL provides a range of capacity building opportunities for La Porte County nonprofits, including a variety of grants; technical assistance and workshops; Jumpstart, a one-year fundraising and donor database program; the Nonprofit Excellence Symposium, held in January 2023; and other individualized supports to help nonprofits thrive. 

To offer the Academy to local nonprofits, HFL partners with Indiana University Executive Education at the O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs to bring best-in-class leadership training. Held at the HFL Conference & Learning Center, the Academy brings the participating leaders together for 10 full days of classes over a six-month period taught by seasoned practitioners.  

September’s course marks the first of six modules of the Academy, which will run through February 2024, including Strategic Planning and Nonprofit Leadership; Planning for Fundraising Success; Financial Analysis for Nonprofit Leaders; Marketing and Communications for Nonprofits; and Program Evaluation for Mission Success. Upon completion of the Academy, participants fulfilling all requirements receive a certificate of Nonprofit Leadership from Indiana University.  

The 2023-24 Academy marks the third time HFL has provided this opportunity to La Porte County nonprofits. In 2018, a group of 15 leaders completed the program, and a group of 18 graduated in 2019. 

“At HFL, we are incredibly proud of the Academy,” said Maria Fruth, HFL President and CEO. “Supporting the hard-working nonprofit leaders in our community through capacity building is key to our mission. Capacity building is an important strategy HFL employs towards the creation of sustainable and effective nonprofit organizations. We are grateful to Indiana University and the expertise of the practitioners for this ongoing partnership, and we cannot wait to celebrate this group of nonprofit leaders in February.”   

In addition to bringing new concepts and ideas, the Academy helps local nonprofit leaders build a support network. Last week, as leaders became acquainted with one another, they shared successes and struggles, bounced ideas off one another during “think – pair – shares” and small group discussions, and enjoyed laughter and connection during breaks and lunch.  

Come February, graduates of the 2023-24 HFL Nonprofit Leadership Academy will have a stronger understanding of staff and volunteer management; board engagement; successful fundraising strategies; strategic planning prowess; and a knack for effective program evaluation. Hopefully, they will also leave the Academy with strengthened relationships and a renewed passion for their nonprofit work.  

HFL is a private, independent foundation whose mission is to empower La Porte County residents to live healthy and well. Since 2017, HFL has invested more than $41 million in the community. For more information about HFL and its Healthy Partners capacity building work, please visit or contact HFL at 219.326.2471.