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52-year-old graduate student pursues non-profit ambitions

October 1st, 2009

This year, 52-year old graduate student Ann Albert will not only be finishing her Master’s degree in non-profit administration at John Carroll University, but she will also continue pursuing her other dream of starting her own non-profit organization.  

“It has always been a dream of mine to start a non-profit organization to support the arts. The organization would be called ‘Cleveland Rocks for the Arts’ and it would serve children in the Cleveland area who are interested in pursuing their dreams in areas of the arts including music, drawing and painting, drama and graphic design,” said Albert. 

Albert’s own son Michael was musically involved at a young age. He sang in four choirs during his time at school.

“I have always had a great appreciation for children who are interested in the arts, and I really wanted to give something back to a community that I’m proud to live in.” 

The organization would work to help children, like Michael, who would be identified by their teachers as having great potential in their field, but lacking the financial support required to fund their goals. 

“Teachers would nominate the children for a service such as lessons, art supplies or instruments and then receive permission from their parents or guardians for the child to receive this service,” said Albert. 

 “The non-profit administration department at Carroll is perfect for experienced people like Ann,” said Professor Duane Dukes who teaches Albert on the non-profit administration course. “I think her project is a wonderful idea and I wish her well with it after she graduates.” 

Cleveland is the second largest city in the United States for non-profit organizations. 

“There is great corporate and community support available and I found that out through entering the contest,” said Albert in reference to the Fit to Boom, Refresh Your Life contest that she was a finalist for this year. 

The competition, sponsored by Subway, Microsoft, MSN and MSNBC, gave contestants aged 45 or above an opportunity to improve their communities and lives with a $20,000 grant. Albert’s idea was so well received that she became one of only ten national finalists. Also due to the amount of support within the community Albert scored an interview on the “Fox Morning Show.”  

Although Albert didn’t win the competition her Fox interview and the publicity from JCU’s Web site have continued to propel her forward.  She is still determined and passionate about the project and she said that she will continue to search for funding for the organization.  

Her next goals include seeking program and operating funds as well as initial endowment funding through local and national foundations, corporations and the government programs that support education and the arts. 

“I will seek to establish a loyal donor base of private individuals in order to generate an endowment fund to make the organization self-sustaining,” said Albert.

 Albert is currently working as an E-commerce coordinator at Middleburg Heights’ AmeriMark Direct, LLC.  She said that studying at JCU has prepared her in many ways to take her idea to the next level, from taking an internship at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless to taking the grant-writing program provided by the non-profit administration course. 

 “Most people want to start a non-profit group out of the goodness of their hearts, but it takes more than that.  You need to educate yourself because it’s essentially a business,” she said.

Albert offered some advice to those who might want to follow her footsteps and get involved with non-profit administration in the future. 

“Never give up, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The support I received has been incredible.  We are all blessed to be part of this community,” she said.

The Web site for “Cleveland Rocks for the Arts” can still be viewed at www.rocksforthearts.org and it can be followed on Twitter (RocksForTheArts).