2020 Curriculum

The Board Academy three-month curriculum consists of interactive classes, readings, experiential learning, and network building within the Charlottesville community.

Opening and closing sessions are a full day each with two-hour workshops meeting approximately every two weeks for three months. Sessions require advanced reading and outside class work including a group project that spans the entire four-month program. Important dates and content covered in the Academy are detailed below. Full participation in both Opening Day (01/31/2019) and Closing Day (05/08/2019) are required for graduation. In all but the most exceptional circumstance, participants who miss more than one of the regular evening sessions will be disqualified from graduating.

We’re making some exciting changes to Board Academy in 2020. To ensure that Board Academy and board service, in general, become more welcoming and accessible, we’re offering the following:

  • Orientation to Board Service Session. Designed specifically for those with little or no board experience, this optional session provides an overview of board members’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Difficult Conversations. This series of three 2-hour workshops will help participants hone the skills needed to engage fruitfully on tough topics, especially in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Childcare subsidies. Scholarship recipients can now apply for an additional $200 to help offset the cost of childcare related to attending Board Academy’s evening sessions.

Schedule of Dates

Welcome Breakfast (optional)

Friday, January 10 | 8:00–9:00 am

  • Meet your classmates
  • Pick up your books
  • Eat a bagel!

Orientation to Board Service (optional)

Thursday, January 23 | 6:00–8:00 pm

Specifically designed for participants with little or no board experience

  • Fundamental roles and responsibilities of the board

Opening Day

Friday, January 31 | 9:00 am–4:00 pm

  • A brief history of nonprofits and why nonprofit governance matters
  • Review of roles and responsibilities
  • Common board challenges
  • Identification of personal strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth


Thursday, February 6 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Basic strategic differences between for-profit and nonprofit organizations
  • How the board role adds value in determining and delivering strategic objectives for the organization

Resource Development

Thursday, February 13 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • The board’s integral role in the development of a fundraising strategy and in fundraising for the organization relative to its size
  • The key role boards play in relationship-building for an organization

Introduction to Nonprofit Finance (optional)

Thursday, February 20 | 6:00–8:00 pm

Specifically designed for participants with little or no experience with finances.

  • Basic financial terminology relevant to nonprofit governance
  • Understanding how financial statements can tell you

Fiscal Responsibility

Thursday, February 27 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Key role of the board in promoting best business practices within a nonprofit
  • Risk and revenue strategies for sound board decision-making
  • Basics of nonprofit financial statements

Difficult Conversations I

Thursday, March 5 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Practice skills necessary for navigating tough topics
  • Participants will work in pairs or small groups

The Board Building Cycle

Thursday, March 19 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Board recruitment and retention strategies for recruiting and maintaining a diverse and balanced board
  • Concepts of age and racial/ethnic diversity and why they matter to board service


Thursday, March 26 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Understanding group dynamics and development
  • Facilitating discussions and decision making
  • Considering questions to guide decisions around collaborations and partnerships

Difficult Conversations II

Thursday, April 9 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Practice skills necessary for navigating tough topics
  • Participants will work in groups

Difficult Conversations III

Thursday, April 23 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Practice skills necessary for navigating tough topics
  • All participants will join in a facilitated conversation

Group Project Work Session

Thursday, April 30 | 6:00–8:00 pm

  • Please hold this date and time on your calendar to work on your group project
  • No dinner will be served

Closing Day

Friday, May 8 | 9:00 am–4:00 pm

  • Group project reporting
  • Change management
  • Characteristics of high-performing boards
  • Academy review
  • Questions to ask before you consider board service

Academy Graduation

Friday, May 8 | 5:00–7:00 pm

New City Arts, 114 3rd St NE, Charlottesville, VA

  • Celebrate your success with your fellow graduates and Academy alumni