Our History: Transforming the Jericho Road
One day, the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the speech Beyond Vietnam (April 1967)
Inspired by the eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the First Parish Unitarian Universalist church in Concord, MA, launched The Jericho Road Project in 2003. The church envisioned bridging volunteer professionals from Concord, MA, with the needs of non-profit organizations serving residents in nearby Lowell, MA. These professionals provided critical and free consulting services the nonprofits could often not afford on their own, such as marketing, business development, IT and web design, and strategic planning.
Jericho Road's customized skills-based volunteer model grew quickly from an idea to a viable organization, as volunteer projects enabled people to use professional skills and “relationship capital” to build up Lowell's nonprofit capacity. By the end of three years' time, 51 Lowell service organizations received more than 5000 pro bono hours of professional expertise through 180 collaborations. Participating nonprofit clients rated their overall satisfaction with work done at 6.5 on a scale of 1 to 7.
Jericho Road affiliate sites.
Our success in Lowell has inspired others to launch new Jericho Road sites in additional locations, based on our model and with our support. Sites launch after a rigorous process explores whether a new site is relevant to community needs and can be financially sustainable. One by one, Jericho Road has helped affiliates establish themselves in the following locales:
Jericho Road Lowell (2003)
Jericho Road Lawrence (2005)
Jericho Road Worcester (2009)
Jericho Road Lynn (2010) – now merged with Centerboard in Lynn, MA
Jericho Road Roxbury (2012)
Jericho Road Pasadena (2010)
Jericho Road Dallas is presently involved in a feasibility study, a preliminary step to opening a site.
The Jericho Road Project Learning Community.
Established in 2010, the Learning Community is a virtual and physical meeting space where Jericho Road directors and board members come together to address key concerns and share best practices in order to improve the Jericho Road model. Jericho Road held its first Learning Community conference in the fall of 2012 in Concord, MA. Participating directors focused on how to better measure the outcomes of volunteer projects more effectively and to gather additional data to better measure our impact. The conversation among directors resulted in new data collection and follow-up methods, to be implemented throughout the coming year.
The Leadership Connection.
Launched in 2009, The Leadership Connection places corporate executives on non-profit boards in order to expand leadership skills and professional networks, as well as enable executives to make powerful and rewarding contributions to non-profit governance, and to the quality of life in underserved communities.
This Leadership Connection was launched in response to a survey of nonprofit staff and board members in Lowell and Lawrence, MA. Of the 85 nonprofit leaders surveyed, 86 % reported they had difficulty recruiting new board members, and less than half rated their boards effective or highly effective. .
The Leadership Connection, currently serves the cities of Lowell and Worcester MA. The program addresses nonprofit board needs by training executives in board governance, fiscal and legal oversight, and fundraising, and then by placing trainees on nonprofit boards through a customized matching process. The service also benefits participating corporate executives by developing their leadership and influencing skills as well as through impactful community engagement. During the past three years, Jericho Road has trained and placed scores of executives from companies such as NetScout Systems Inc., Hologic Inc., NewBalance, and Raytheon IDS on nonprofit boards in Lowell, Lawrence and Worcester, MA.
The Foundation for MetroWest and The Jericho Road Project have partnered with Bentley University to launch the Metro West Leadership Connection in 2013. Early results of a “leadership needs” survey of nonprofits in 33 MetroWest communities showed that more than 70% of respondents:
needed new board members this year
board make-up doesn't reflect their constituencies
find it “somewhat” or “extremely” difficult to recruit new board member
believe gaining new talents and skills is the most important goal in recruiting new board members
MetroWest Boston communities and area corporations can participate in the program starting in April 2013. For more information on the program and upcoming trainings, go to The Leadership Connection