"Where do you want to go?
What do you want to do?
We can make it happen."
MENTOR: Methods, Experiences, Networking & Training, Organizing & Research
We are proud to announce a very special and unique new program that provides individualized mentorship for people wanting to learn how to conduct their own project(s). We help you to gain funding, and provide skills training along with the contacts and tools to actualize your plans. In some instances, undergraduate and graduate credits are able to also be provided.
Training and Doing
The Center also offers various training opportunities. The newest is MENTOR. This is a unique, new program that provides individualized mentorship for people wanting to learn to conduct their own project(s). Upon acceptance into the MENTOR Program, we help awardees gain project funding; we provide skills training along with the contacts and tools to actualize their plans. In some instances, undergraduate and graduate credits or Continuing Education Units for some licensed healthcare professionals may also be provided. Our motto for this is "Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? We can make it happen."
University Model and Fear and Loathing with the IRS
If you have ever worked at a university and won a grant, you quickly learned that the University received 25% to 55% of the funds. The reason is that there is a mutual need between faculty and research universities. Professors need a non-profit setting to receive funding. Grantors do NOT fund individuals; they fund institutions that have been properly vetted and deemed legitimate entities capable of managing funds for the work to be done by the professor. So faculty need not only this safety mechanism provided by an institution, but the University also provides support services that help the professor in her/his work as well. CGI has adopted a similar model.
I now understand why there are not more 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organizations—I never realized how time consuming and expensive the process is. In Illinois, we first had to become incorporated. This process took about three months, cost $750 in fees to the State of Illinois, plus legal fees. Then, we had to complete a daunting IRS application form called the Form 1023 (look it up online, it's a doozie). In it we had to forecast three years forward of budgets, provide a myriad of spreadsheets, and other various portions of the application. That took a massive amount of my time and our attorneys. Afterwards, we had to apply for tax-exempt status in the State. Fortunately, we were successful, but in total it took about 14 months, almost $1000 is application fees, and almost $6000 in attorneys' fees. Then, we had to file our state and federal tax returns on Form 990 form (and all of its supporting forms and documents) and Form AG 990-IL (note "AG" stands for Attorney General, so it maximizes one's anxieties in completing it as well). The federal form notes that it takes about 24 person-hours to complete, and I can attest that it did. And that was for our first year with non-complex financial activities, and not a great deal of money. I do not look forward to next year's tax time...
But the point is, after going through all this, I fully understand why more people interested in doing their own projects do not follow through. These hurdles prevent many from putting their plans into action. While I do fully understand why they exist to serve as very rigorous protections and assurances, they nevertheless are difficult, costly, and time consuming.
As it has always been CGI's philosophy to not "own" projects but to support, augment, and incubate them, its sensible to meld with the University Model. For example, a colleague may have the desire to retire early and in some of his free time, create music education projects for needy children in developing countries. However, the problem is, he does not have the time or money to build his own 501(c)(3), non-profit organization; he just wants to do the work. An additional problem is that while he already has donors who want to contribute both funds and instruments to support his work, they also want to be able to gain a tax-deduction for their contribution. Yet, they cannot donate AND gain the tax deduction as my colleague is "just" an individual. So, no donations, no project, no children being given instruments and educated on how to use them, and thus no music, and no benefit to these children.
But, the CGI (University) Model allows my colleague to develop his project within the structure of CGI, a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization as one of its projects. We also provide him with the tools and infrastructure he needs for organizing his project. We connect him with contacts in the geographic regions he plans on working in. We conduct research for him in order to operationalize the project. CGI helps structure a budget, purchase airfare and hotel stay for his site scouting in South America, and help design his fund-raising and awareness efforts. We also provide him with a website for his project along with the ability to process credit card donations or mailed in checks. The purchases he needs to make will be tax-free, and all donations will be tax-deductible for the contributors. We even do the year end tax reporting, filing, and auditing. Our business model then is like that of a University—25% of the donations go to support these projects and the Center. It costs him nothing—financially, time-wise, or hassle-wise. The Center can be involved and support more projects, as talented individuals get to accomplish their dream project(s)— much sooner than if they built their own 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization.