MURRAY - Murray State University and the Community Foundation of West Kentucky (CFWK) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, establishing a shared commitment to develop a cooperative relationship on the basis of established shared program and service delivery initiatives and mutual understandings and especially to develop a strong partnership to increase the capacity of nonprofit organizations across west Kentucky. 

Both the university and CFWK make critical contributions across the region through missions that advance shared commitments to nearly every aspect of life. Each organization plays an essential role in education, civic engagement, community development and philanthropy. For many years, the two organizations have worked closely together to strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations and initiatives. Murray State’s Nonprofit Leadership Studies (NLS) program found a natural partner in the CFWK’s dedication to strengthening nonprofit and philanthropic efforts. 

During the past decade, the partnership has delivered a range of programs and services on strategic planning, board development and fundraising, among other important topics. The two organizations collaborated on a research project to demonstrate the power of the inter-generational transfer of wealth, the results of which guided the establishment of the Kentucky Tax Credit to promote the development of community foundation endowments. They have promoted cooperative efforts among area funders, educational organizations and community coalitions. Such activities include day-long and multi-day workshops, individual organization trainings, and consultancies with key leaders. These frequently lead to ongoing coaching exchanges as work unfolds. Coaching often creates mentoring relationships that connect the key resource persons to organizations over time. The topics include every aspect of the NLS leadership and management curriculum. It is upon these foundational efforts and relationships that a framework has been built to more formally and strategically respond to the growing needs of community-based organizations across the region. 

In February of 2020, the Murray State Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Nonprofit Resource Center to formalize the commitment within the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program and its academic home in the department of organizational communication and leadership, within the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business. A key resource championing the work across the region is the university’s Center for Adult and Regional Education, linking all activity through the six Murray State campuses and educational presences in Fort Campbell, Henderson, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, Murray and Paducah. This network is complemented by the affiliate funds of the CFWK located in Glasgow-Barren County, Henderson, Livingston County, Marshall County and Murray-Calloway County.

The past year has been focused on engaging regional nonprofit leaders to design new programs and services. New activities now being provided across the region include a Murray-based Philanthropy Week designed to celebrate successful community engagement and giving, the Hopkinsville Academy for Nonprofit Development & Leadership certificate program, and a Nonprofit Financial Sustainability Summit Series based out of the Paducah campus. The CFWK continues to inform the creative process and provide support where needed, which includes providing funding for the Summit Series.

During the signing event CFWK Board President Joe Framptom said, “It feels great today to be engaged in something positive that brings people together and lifts us all up as we collaborate in a common purpose that will improve the quality of life for all in our region. Creation of this partnership will enhance the success of nonprofit organizations, their leaders, and their volunteers. I am grateful to Dr. Bob Jackson for his personal involvement in bringing the significant resources of Murray State into this relationship and I thank and applaud all those from the university, including Michael Bokeno, Tim Todd, David Durr and David Eaton who bring their leadership and talents to this partnership. Speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff at the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, we have committed our resources to the success of this innovative and creative endeavor to support and enhance nonprofits throughout our region.”

Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson said, “I want to thank the key Murray State leaders who have committed to growing and enhancing our Nonprofit Leadership Studies program. The chair of our department of organizational communication and leadership, Dr. Michael Bokeno, has embraced the opportunity to integrate the NLS program and give it a new academic home. Dean David Eaton has been a champion of the move of the NLS program to the Bauernfeind College of Business, where the program of study has its foundations in leadership and management. Murray State University has a tremendous responsibility and duty to our region. We are the only public university in the Purchase and the Pennyrile areas, all the way to I-65. We have a very large footprint that includes a lot of nonprofit organizations serving their communities. This new Murray State Nonprofit Resource Center will allow us to reach out to help strengthen organizations in pursuit of their missions of service. I appreciate all that the Community Foundation of West Kentucky Board and staff have done for this region; I know this will be a wonderful partnership and I look forward to better days ahead.”

Murray State University and the Community Foundation of West Kentucky share a commitment to a very large region of the Commonwealth. It takes all the resources available to respond to the needs of the communities and its citizens. The combination of Murray State’s regional campuses and the Community Foundations Affiliates cover the region and have a long history of collaboration and cooperation. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is just one more step in a shared journey toward better serving the region.

It is upon these shared visions of a healthy, sustainable nonprofit sector that the quality of life across west Kentucky will continue to improve. Stronger community-based organizations have a powerful positive impact on every aspect of daily life. Such outcomes are more likely as a result of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Murray State University and the Community Foundation of West Kentucky.