Robin Gordon, Director of Administration at HANDS, Inc.
Gathering people together face-to-face is a major part of Robin Gordon’s work, so when the pandemic forced community development nonprofits like Gordon’s to switch to operating virtually, she and her coworkers faced the formidable challenge of engaging residents and local businesses in an online-only format.
Robin Gordon is the director of administration and resource development for Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Inc. (HANDS), a NeighborWorks organization based in Orange, New Jersey, adjacent to Newark in the New York metropolitan area. “We have eight employees, so I always call us small, but mighty,” she says. “Part of being mighty is being armed with the right tools, and NeighborWorks training has been a key to our success.”
Just as affordable housing and community development professionals have made the pivot to operating virtually, NeighborWorks America continued to diversify and expand its online training offerings in 2021. In particular, the number and frequency of webinar trainings was greatly increased, with many focusing on content areas that were new or previously unavailable in a digital format.
NeighborWorks America continued to diversify and expand its online training offerings in 2021.
Building upon the success of the first Virtual Training Institute in 2020, NeighborWorks held two successful Virtual Training Institutes in 2021. The NeighborWorks Executive Symposium, traditionally an in-person event, was held virtually in an accessible online format for the first time.
In addition, NeighborWorks held the first HUD P.A.S.S. (Preparation and Study Skills) intensive trainings. These week-long online training sessions helped thousands of housing counselors study and prepare for taking the HUD Counseling Certification exam ahead of the deadline to achieve HUD certification.
“We quickly pivoted to offering a more robust set of online offerings to meet the community’s needs, especially amid the pandemic,” says Cristi Ford, senior vice president of training for NeighborWorks America. “Our online trainings are designed to address the latest challenges and opportunities in a wide array of topics, providing professionals in the community development and affordable housing fields with tangible skills, tools, and resources they can immediately implement in their communities.”
In all, NeighborWorks awarded more than 23,000 certificates of course completion in FY 2021.
While NeighborWorks trainings still were not face-to-face in 2021, they continued to offer the same spirit of collaboration and shared ideas that Gordon enjoys. She recalls the unique opportunity that training offers in bringing together professionals from diverse areas and communities across the country—from cities, rural areas and Indian reservations. “It’s so incredibly broadening and refreshing to lift yourself up out of the weeds of your organization and to get the perspective of how other organizations approach something,” Gordon says. “You come back to your work with a new perspective and new motivation.”
In all, NeighborWorks awarded more than 23,000 certificates of course completion in FY 2021. Through increased online training opportunities, NeighborWorks is providing thousands of housing counselors, affordable housing and community development professionals like Gordon the opportunity to increase their capacity, learn new skills and enhance their community impact.