Free PD at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management

YNPN Chicago is always on the lookout for the latest in professional development and career advancement opportunities. Recently, we were notified by staff of the Kellogg School of Management of the creation of the Nonprofit Management Essentials. We reached out to Amy Stewart Smith to learn more, and tried some NME courses for ourselves.



As most of us have experienced at one point or another in our nonprofit careers, finding workable and affordable professional development feels nearly impossible. In a sector strapped for cash, where every dollar spent is scrutinized, allocating resources to develop emerging leaders often falls by the wayside. We’ve all gotten excited for that certificate program or conference only to find the price tag and close the window with a disappointed “maybe next year.”

Those experiences are why I’m so excited about the Nonprofit Management Essentials! The Nonprofit Management Essentials are a new free resource for young nonprofit leaders, offering flexible professional development that informs all aspects of leadership in the nonprofit world. Partnering with Allstate, this new program from Kellogg School of Management is closing the leadership development gap for free.

Learning at your own pace

With the amount of work that needs to get done at most nonprofits, time is often an even bigger constraint than money on most of our ability to pursue professional development. As a digital program with a comprehensive course catalog as well as on-demand offerings, there are no classes to get to or homework to squeeze into your limited free time. Learning takes place at your pace, wherever you are.

On-Demand learning enables you to pick and choose the topics you want to engage with, allowing for modular learning at your own speed. According to Amy Stewart Smith of Kellogg, nonprofits are already beginning to use On-Demand offerings as onboarding and in-house workforce development material. Having taken three On-Demand courses myself, I can certify that Essentials courses have the power to change your understanding of everything from fundraising to board governance.

If you’re more of a social learner, the Online Connection track allows you to join a cohort of peers for a paced and facilitated program across the full breadth of topics on offer. As a team, Online Connection learners receive and give feedback from their peers in the program itself, under the watchful eye of an academic director. The next Online Connection cohort starts January 22, 2019.

Kellogg and the Allstate Foundation saw a need for high quality professional development resources for emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector, and they funded the creation of this content that is now available for free! More information, course listing, and signup are available now at


What is it? Free online content, delivered by Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management faculty and practitioners, to provide emerging nonprofit leaders with essential, fundamental information across a broad range of nonprofit management topics.

Who is it for? Emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector, professionals who are new to the sector, as well as board members looking to deepen their knowledge of the sector.

Free? Really? Yes, generous funding from The Allstate Foundation makes this valuable content available at no cost for nonprofit professionals.

How does it work? Participants can access the modules as individuals and complete the exercises on their own; they can work in teams and discuss the content and apply the exercises to their organization; or they can engage with peers in a facilitated cohort.

Interested? Learn more here.

Thanks to Amy Stewart Smith for assisting in the development of this post!