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Through collaboration and the development of formal and informal partnerships within the greater community, Heartwood House serves the residents of Ottawa who are marginalized, living in poverty, and/or in need of educational, mental health, emotional, physical, economic, employment, training or recreational support – Heartwood House provides an affordable, accessible workplace for small non-profit and charitable organizations to enable them to maximize their services through a mutually supportive hospitable and empowering environment for their clients and participants.

Our Member groups provide a wide range of services, information, networking and skill development opportunities to low income adults and families, new immigrants, people with differing abilities, people improving literacy or spoken English skills, people needing health and mental health supports, and people developing new employment, personal, or artistic skills.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

We strive to achieve positive community outcomes and earn revenues to support sustainability.
Heartwood House and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa enjoy a highly successful partnership in the ownership of the property at 400-412 McArthur Avenue. Heartwood owns 87.5% and the Unitarians 12.5% of the building.

Heartwood House is also home to two other successful partnerships: the OC Transpo Lost & Found and the Everybody Wins! Electronics Recycling Program. Income generated is used to help support the work of the Heartwood community.

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

Our greatest resource is our Member groups. We are constantly looking for opportunities to share knowledge and expertise between one another so that we can learn from experience while being invested in sharing ideas.

We have learned that it takes intentional effort to build trust and community and that it takes time. By investing the time and energy there seems to be greater levels of engagement to share these resources and expertise. We are better together!

Center Name: Heartwood House

Location: Ontario, Canada

Center Website:

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The Rose Andom Center opened the summer of 2016, as the first Family Justice Center in the Rocky Mountain region, with a mission to improve the lives of domestic violence victims by facilitating better access to the services and staff of community organizations and government agencies in a single, safe location. The Rose Andom Center is named in honor of successful Denver entrepreneur and former McDonald’s franchise owner, Rose Andom.

The innovative model of the Rose Andom Center brings together 7 city and 13 community-based organizations in one building, representing the forward-thinking, collaborative approach to provide ‘best practice’ services to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The staff of partner organizations provide a wide array of services, including domestic violence advocacy and counseling, crisis intervention, civil legal support, services for children, law enforcement services, information regarding the criminal justice system, assistance with public benefits, housing resources, and referrals for job readiness and job search assistance.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

In 2017, the Rose Andom Center was honored to receive a Downtown Denver Partnership Award, given to businesses that have made significant contributions toward creating a unique, vibrant, and diverse Downtown environment, and have left a lasting, positive impact on Downtown Denver. Since opening, we have had over 3,300 victims and 900 children come into the Rose Andom Center to access multiple services from our partner agencies. The building underwent a comprehensive renovation to provide a warm, welcoming, safe environment for the clients and to promote collaborative work among the partners. A centralized “nest” area provides comfortable interview rooms for private conversations with clients, as well as an open great room and kitchen for their use, and a playroom for the children to enjoy while their parent meets with service providers. The playroom includes a custom wall-sized Light Bright Wall, enjoyed by all who visit the Rose Andom Center!

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

Working with the Nonprofit Centers Network, Denver Shared Spaces and Oz Architects helped ensure we could think through our goals in developing the best shared space possible, that would meet our mission and be of benefit to our clients!

Center Name: Rose Andom Center

Location: Denver, CO

Center Website:

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It’s a new year! Time to get into shape! No, I’m not here to harass you on how well your New Year’s resolution towards good health is going, or if you’ve already given up on it. (You can do it!) I’m here to help your nonprofit get its plan about sharing space into shape, so you can present your best self to your community. This year, we're bringing you a different kind of Boot Camp, that's making it super easy and cost effective to learn about nonprofit shared space with Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp. You can get in shape on your own (in your pjs) over 2 months or with your colleagues (maybe not in your pjs) over 6 months, starting whenever you register. Make this year the year you dive into the idea that you, your board, or community has been thinking about: getting serious about shared space. Here are just a few ways Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp will get you and your team there:

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I’ve had several conversations with new NCN members just starting the process to see if a nonprofit center is the right thing for their community. People talking this project for the first time are some of my favorites to work with – the energy, the inspiration, the passion. Inevitably, at some point excitement transitions to overwhelmed, as leaders struggle to balance their vision with the growing workload. That’s where we come in! Because how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! We’ve helped so many people break down their shared space project into manageable chunks, making their dream a reality.  Here are my top tips for managing this process: Write down your why: Whether it’s an official statement of purpose or just the top three reasons you want to see a shared space in your community, this is your guiding principle as you go through this project. Form follows function throughout this process.

Asheley Lovell, Ph. D.

Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing they share in common is a desire to scale up their impact on the world. Collaboration has long been touted as the best way for nonprofits to scale up, but the actual practice of collaboration is often messy, making it hard to measure the impacts of these efforts. At The Alliance Center in Denver, CO (home to the headquarters for The Nonprofit Centers Network), over 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations work under one roof. We are a mission-driven nonprofit with an event and collaborative working space which is dedicated to bringing people together to create a sustainable and inclusive future. As the operator of a collaborative working space, we strive to create a work environment that is inspiring, inviting, and that promotes constructive interactions between tenants. The Alliance Center recently underwent a brand realignment process to reconnect with our mission. As part of this process we changed the name of the organization from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to The Alliance Center. For many years, the building that houses the collaborative working spaces was named The Alliance Center while the nonprofit organization that managed the building and created programming was called the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. This caused considerable confusion. While we are excited to have one name for all aspects of our work, changing our name to The Alliance Center is about a lot more than simplifying our moniker.

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An Evaluation! Those two little words strike fear into leaders’ hearts. I hear “It’s too expensive!” or “We don’t have time!”  or “No one ever fills out surveys anyway!”  Earlier this year, we set out to help shared space managers tackle this question with the support of Laura Sundstrom and Elena Harmon of Vantage Evaluation.  Through a combination of structured learning webinars, peer learning and hands on homework, we worked with approximately ten different shared spaces to see what methods we could test. While we are still crunching the quantitative and qualitative data, here are my preliminary take aways. Have a clear goal for your collaborative work. What are you trying to accomplish through shared space? Break it down as simply as possible and unpack common jargon-filled phrases. Trying to show the impact of collaboration? Make sure you know what that looks like in your community?

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When you provide shared space or back office services for nonprofits it can be a challenge to explain what exactly it is that you do. This was the focus of NCN’s virtual Community of Practice last week. Honing our message is a continual work in progress. For many years, we’ve included Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk in our Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp Curriculum. While providing affordable space for nonprofits is a noble endeavor, most of us are in this field for a greater purpose. Sinek argues that if you can articulate the “Why” behind the “What” that you do, you will be more success and convincing people to support your cause. Another tool that I have found to be incredibly useful is Mission Minded’s Minute Messaging Model, which was recently featured on their blog. Mission Minded asks people to develop a series of timed stories about their mission:

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I was recently traveling for my Summer vacation. When I would come across new people and tell them about my work at The Nonprofit Centers Network, I got the typical mix of responses that I’ve come to expect. They range from, “Wow! Sharing space and resources makes so much sense for the nonprofit sector,” to the confused “That’s nice, but what do you really do?” Then there was a conversation with a woman that caught me by surprise.   From the way she reacted, I knew immediately that she was one of those who “got it” right away. Towards the end of our conversation, she asked me, “What can I do to support this idea? I don’t run a nonprofit organization, and I’m not a philanthropist.”  Here are some of the tips I shared (and some I wish I had thought of at the time!):

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I’ve been reflecting on the biggest lessons I’ve learned about mission-driven shared spaces. Here’s what I would tell someone new to the field. #1 – Find the Bullseye – Nonprofit centers that have a very clear goal that resonates with the community tend to be more successful. A clear goal allows the center to brand itself and communicates the value of locating there. They can build a quicker buzz than a center with a more generic focus. Tenants understand the benefits of co-locating and clients and community members know where to access resources. NCN’s survey data has shown that centers tend to be more financially sustainable when they are organized around a specific theme or goal. #2 – Get a Backbone – Start-up nonprofit centers are more successful when there is a project manager to shepherd the project through development. Many groups try to build their centers by committee, which can seem more financially responsible, but in my experience, hiring someone to champion the project, schedule meetings, follow up on to-do lists and monitor the budget is the better option.

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