Incubating Grassroots Nonprofits: A service-learning approach to organizational capacity building with communities of immigrant and refugee background

Nancy Winemiller Basinger, Rosemarie Hunter


This paper explains the development of a community-university partnership responding to community-identified needs and toward the goal of creating a nonprofit incubator in Salt Lake City. Our research draws on several years of partnership work with communities of immigrant and refugee experiences. As immigrant and refugee groups settle in new communities, they seek to serve the members of their community. Often they form a group to meet specialized community needs. Increasingly these groups are organized as nonprofits. Emerging micro-nonprofit organizations from these populations often struggle to find the connections to the community that brings sustainability.  At the same time, community organizers tell us that they need something to support organizational development that is not currently available in the community. They are seeking something beyond training and less costly than one-on-one consulting. In response to these requests, we utilized a service-learning course to pilot the development of the non-profit incubator. Drawing on community development, service-learning and nonprofit management literature this case study highlights the lessons learned from nonprofit incubator development in one community.

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