There are numerous case studies to draw upon for micro practice coursework that enhance quality classroom discussions and provide MSW students an opportunity to consider diagnoses, treatments, or interventions, for individuals or families, yet, parallel case studies of those in the macro practice track are limited. This paper provides a teaching case study of a nonprofit community-based organization (CBO) designed for classroom use. This case study describes challenges and opportunities encountered of a small CBO in a high-poverty, high-minority neighborhood. Through a framework of analysis and open-ended questions for classroom discussion, this study aids in increasing the understanding and realities of community-based macro practice work in the nonprofit sector through problem-centered learning to help inform the practice of future leaders in the field.
The selected organization was chosen due to its physical location (neighborhood of concentrated disadvantage), its financial state (small organization with an annual budget of $200,000), and its history in the community (founded 25 years ago). The lead author conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with the founder and current executive director, Mr. Gonzales, five times over a period of two years, recording and transcribing each interview, which averaged approximately an hour in length. Interview topics included neighborhood context, the services and target population of the organization, issues of collaboration and competition, and a discussion surrounding funding concerns, both strategies and challenges encountered. The authors used Atlas.ti 7.0 to code and create this case study based upon the interview transcripts.
The selected organization, Latino Partners for Change (LPC), located in the community of East Bayside, is a rapidly changing community from historically African American residents to a majority Latino population. Created in the spirit of multiculturalism and community unity, the soul of the organization has always been to build bridges among African Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups residing in the nearby communities. Current services include an afterschool program for local youth, free adult English-language courses, immigration services and immigrant leadership development courses. The founder’s chosen style of service delivery, program philosophy, and service provisions to meet the core needs of the community, are discussed. Additionally, the continual struggle for funding, strategies for acquiring resources, and difficulties in collaboration with other CBOs are included in the dialogue surrounding best practices and ways for improvement. This case study provides a framework for discussion about what service provisions look like at a community-led organization, the challenges faced, strategies utilized, and lessons learned.
While the majority of MSW students are micro focused, most will find employment within the private nonprofit sector. Even for those students whose aims are to work in the local community, through organizing, management, policy settings, or program planning and design, often have few real-world examples to learn from regarding the struggles and opportunities that CBOs encounter. By incorporating case studies of CBOs in the curriculum of macro-based courses, students can increase their awareness and knowledge of CBOs, macro practice, as well as how community context matters, policies affecting such organizations, and program planning and design.