Nourish Announces New Mission & Vision

Nourish Has a New Mission & Vision


We believe one thing is clear: we need to build stronger leaders. We – households, neighborhoods, cities, institutions, and nations – need leaders who prioritize community, compassion, and conscientiousness.

That’s why we’re here with a new mission: Nourish exists to nurture the skills, self-awareness, and confidence of students to become social impact leaders.

Read about our recent transition below.

A Note on Our Transformation from Board Chair, Tommy Thekkekandam.

Happy autumn! As the weather changes and leaves put on new colors, Nourish International is looking forward to a new season of its own. As Nourish’s new Board Chair, I’m writing to update you on exciting changes to the Nourish mission and model.

Nearly 15 years ago, as a college sophomore at UNC, I became a founding member of Nourish. I was excited about the opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills and to dig deeper into the world of social activism. Nourish was just a small student club on a single campus back then. Over the years, Nourish has helped thousands of students gain leadership skills, have life-changing formative experiences, and make a lasting impact on communities at home and abroad.

Late last year, Nourish faced an important challenge to our sustainability. Our organization’s focus had grown so broad that National Office staff were spread thin trying to execute a wide ranging set of programs. This in turn had driven expenses too high to sustain. Nourish needed to take a step back and re-imagine our focus and model in order to drastically reduce costs. This was an opportunity to have a genuine conversation about our future.

First we took immediate steps to reduce our overhead by shrinking our National Office staff, moving to a virtual office model, and recruiting more volunteer support.

Then early this year, the Board launched a task-force comprised of Nourish students, alumni, board, and staff members, with the goal of re-imagining our mission and model. For five months during the spring and summer, this team met weekly to review every piece of the Nourish Model. The task-force conducted one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and detailed surveys with over 80 of our stakeholders, especially students, to test and refine potential changes to the Nourish model.

Through this process, we gained a few key insights:

  • Our students prioritize two values in particular, community and autonomy.
  • Our primary positive impact on the world is developing students into leaders who are equipped and inspired to make a positive difference.

I am proud to announce the outcomes of this work:

  • A refined, singular focus on student leadership development.
  • A sharpened missionTo nurture the skills, self-awareness, and confidence of students to become social impact leaders.
  • A new structure focused on keeping the national office lean, relying on a highly organized volunteer force, building a largely student and alumni Board of Directors, and providing greater autonomy for student chapters to determine their impact model (we give students the opportunity to choose local partnerships as opposed to mandating international grants).

“Nourish helped me see the world through a new lens. Growing up in small town, I felt that I was trapped in a bubble. Nourish helped me break that bubble and realize how interconnected we all are. Without Nourish I don’t think I would have been willing to take risks and feel comfortable exploring new ideas, cultures, and worlds.”

-Jared Staley, Nourish-OSU ‘15

The Nourish National Office is now a connector, facilitating a robust community and connecting students to relevant and inspiring resources, opportunities, and ideas. We train future leaders to change the world by providing a personal leadership development curriculum, combined with support to identify and tackle problems of significance in their local, national, and global communities. Nourish programming aims to help students understand themselves and become empowered to bring their passions and visions to life in support of social impact and positive change for communities. So instead of leveraging students and communities as a means for impacting the world, we are focusing on impacting students who are here to impact the world.

At 26 active chapters across the US and Canada, we still offer one of the most innovative student-led internship experiences available by providing opportunities to gain practical experience in business, responsible development, leadership, and more.

And finally, for those of you who haven’t met him, I want to introduce our “new” Executive Director, JD Van Alstyne (he’s been doing the job admirably since January 2017). In 2014, while still a student, JD started a Nourish chapter at the University of Oregon. He was passionate about Nourish and wanted to deliver the same transformational opportunity to other students. So in the summer of 2015, after graduation, he took a job as a Nourish Program Associate and moved to North Carolina. In that role, JD helped students across the country generate more revenue than they had ever raised through their on-campus Ventures ($200,000 in FY 16). JD was soon promoted to Ventures Coordinator. In early 2017, JD was named Executive Director and has worked tirelessly to shepherd Nourish through our current transformation.

I am thrilled about the progress we have made in the last 12 months. Nourish is on solid financial footing, we have a core of strong chapters, and students are excited about our new mission and programmatic focus.

If you have questions, suggestions, or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at tommy@tomandjennys.com.

Tommy Thekkekandam

Chair, Board of Directors

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