Adaptive Design Association Community Resource Exchange
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CRE Co-Director

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Our Services: Case Studies: Adaptive Design Association

Adaptive Design Association

Services Provided:  Board Development, Planning, Fundraising, Record Keeping

Our Successes:

  • Provided Board Development Training for Passionate but Inexperienced board at the Adaptive Design Association (ADA)
  • Educated board member about their roles and responsibilities of governance during regular meetings over several months
  • Result is that ADA’s board is even more engaged and involved in the organization and the sense of commitment is at an all-time high, according to executive director.

When the Adaptive Design Association (ADA) became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2001, the people who served on the initial board of directors were passionate about the organization’s mission of providing custom-made assistive devices for children with disabilities to enhance their participation in home, school and community life.

But few of the directors had previous board experience.  So, ADA turned to the Community Resource Exchange (CRE) for guidance.

“For the most part, we had first-time board members in 2001 and that’s why the board development that CRE provided was so important,” said Alex Truesdell, ADA’s executive director. “Educating board members about the roles and responsibilities of governance was absolutely essential.”

Truesdell said a CRE consultant met over several months with different board committees and taught them everything--from what are the “objective standards” for boards to what are the “common practices” to what are the “best practices.”

With CRE’s help, the board discussed its responsibilities, studied the bylaws, and talked about ways of bettering its relationship with ADA’s staff.   These exercises “galvanized the board not only to be enthusiastic about the mission but also to talk about it better,” which in turn helped with the key board functions of raising awareness about ADA and fundraising. The CRE training helped an already engaged board become even more involved, Truesdell said.

“In our agency, we’re very interested in having a very engaged board and not one that just gets reports,” Truesdell said. “We really like board members to visit often, call often, drop in often. That way they really get to know the staff, the mission, and the stories.  Then they can talk concretely about ADA and support the mission.  The CRE training raised the participation of the board members. The sense of commitment is higher now and the interaction (with the ADA staff) is even stronger.”

CRE first helped ADA, which provides assistive devices constructed out of lightweight but very strong three-ply cardboard like a slip-on cafeteria bench adaptation that allows a child to get out of her wheelchair and sit with classmates at the table, transfer steps that provide a way for the child to join other kids the floor or a push cart for independent walking, establish itself as a successful pilot project back in 1998, by helping with fundraising and record-keeping procedures.  Currently, CRE is assisting ADA to strategize on the organization’s growth and expansion of services.

Truesdall’s summed up the services CRE provided to her organization over the years in a word. “Spectacular!” she said.  “CRE is extremely knowledgeable and always absolutely concerned about our mission.  We have never had a contact that’s been disappointing.  Our relationship has been very beneficial, and we’re very grateful for CRE’s support to us.”

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