Q&A with Jessica R. Dreistadt, Founding Director

Why did you start The Fruition Coalition?

After completing my first master’s degree in nonprofit management in 2000, I felt like a container of knowledge. I wanted to open up the container and share its contents with others, particularly those who would otherwise not have access to such information. In the beginning, I primarily worked with grassroots nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia. I also organized and taught workshops at the A-Space, Nonprofit Technology Resources, and Community Education Center. Since that time, the Fruition Coalition has evolved to become an organization that provokes collaboration and dialogue rather than just transfer of knowledge.

What organizations have you served?

I have had the great honor of working with many organizations over the years. In the early days, these included Nonprofit Technology Resources, the Association of Child Daycare Providers, Pennsylvanians United for Mammal Advocacy, The Enterprise Center, Philly Reuses, Independent Arts Group, South Philadelphia Rainbow Committee, Momma Sandi Tales, Hosanna Ministries, Heavenly Hall, Entourage Community Development Corporation, Living Life Ministries, and Christian Entertainment Fellowship Network. More recently, I have worked with Helping Hands – Healing Hearts, the Fund for Southern Communities, and the Center for Humanistic Change. Many additional organizations have participated in Fruition Coalition workshops.

How is The Fruition Coalition different today than in 2001?

I now know that I can be of better service by developing and sharing and discussing exciting ideas rather than by regurgitating information. Ideas have unlimited generative potential whereas information is reductionist and stagnant. I no longer see myself as an expert that has access to special information; I know that every day my learning is just starting and I want to learn along with you. Basically, I have grown up.

Why is the Fruition Academy virtual?

By offering webinars rather than traditional in-person meetings and conferences, students can save time and travel costs, participate in real time or whenever it is convenient, share proceedings with coworkers, connect with other students around the globe, and indefinitely participate in a learning community and idea incubator (Le Salon Utopique) to discuss concepts and put ideas into action. We certainly value traditional professional development and see the Fruition Academy as complementary to the many other wonderful learning opportunities that are available. We may offer occasional in-person training (like a summer camp for grown-up activists – wouldn’t that be fun?) and can develop customized professional development events for your organization or association.

How are class topics selected for the Fruition Academy?

To develop the initial class list, I reflected upon my work in executive leadership, administration, organizing, advocacy, fundraising, public relations, and program development to intuitively imagine what would have helped me to be more effective in my work throughout my career. I also wanted to fill in the gaps of the existing professional development offered to social change and community benefit organizations. Each class evaluation asks students to suggest future topics. You can also send a suggestion via email.

Are your classes sales pitches for expensive consulting services?

Absolutely not! We value the process of education and do not ever use it as a means to an end.

Is The Fruition Coalition a nonprofit organization?

No. We are a social enterprise that has chosen to eschew the bureaucratic complexities of obtaining and maintaining a nonprofit status so that we can focus on programming and service delivery. Because we can be self-sufficient through program service fees, there is no need for us to seek grant funding or reduce our tax liability. We reserve those privileges for those who truly need them. Being a for-profit also offers us greater flexibility in being a voice for social change.

Who is in the “Coalition?”

You are a member of this metaphorical coalition (if you want), as are all people who are working toward progressive social change.

How can I get more involved?

We offer a limited number of unpaid internships each fall and spring; send a cover letter and resume to apply. You can also participate in Le Salon Utopique and connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Where are you located?

We are located in the beautiful Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Planet Earth.

Our organization is located in on the other side of the world. Literally. Can you help us?

Sure, why not? Send us an email and we can talk.

Do I need to speak French to participate in Le Salon Utopique?

Mais, non! I mean, no. The title just sounds much better en Francais, don’t you think?

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