by Michi LaCorte

Covid-19 has greatly affected every community, and it has definitely changed my plans for this summer, but I am so grateful to have work this summer – especially with a company that is helping organizations and communities to work through these difficult times. 

My first experience working with a nonprofit was in my sophomore year of high school, when I got a job as a lifeguard at the YWCA of Asheville. I was hired by my former swim coach, and when I started I didn’t know much about nonprofits, or even the YWCA itself. I remember on my first day, I walked into the pool area and saw the mission statement in bright orange letters on the wall: “Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women.” My initial thought was “how much can I really do, I’m just a lifeguard.”

Over time, I grew to see how impactful every part of the organization was. Even though I was lifeguarding, I was also helping to combat racial disparities in my community. It opened my eyes to the far reaching impacts of systemic racism and other institutionalized power structures. Spending time in my job at the YWCA made me realize that no matter what my specific role is, I can center it on a set of core values and make it meaningful and impactful.

Here’s a little bit more about me: My name is Michi LaCorte. I am a rising Junior at Davidson College, and I am double majoring in Philosophy and Gender and Sexuality Studies. I was born in New Hope, PA but I have lived in Weaverville, NC since 2007. At Davidson, I spend a lot of my time working with the Davidson Microaggressions Project, a research project that focuses on creating spaces to have difficult conversations about microaggressions that happen on campus, and in my free time I enjoy hanging out with my friends and my dog Elsker who lives with me on campus. I am the summer fellow at Next Stage with Davidson’s Nonprofit Leadership Fellows program, and I am really looking forward to learning more about the nonprofit sector. From my previous experience at the YWCA, I know how impactful the work of nonprofits can be – and now I want to know more about how they operate, and how to build one from the ground up.

Here are three goals I have set for my time with Next Stage this summer:

  • From In the Classroom to In the Field: I want to learn how to use what I have learned during my time at Davidson to give back. I love learning, especially studying the topics that I do, but I also think education is such a privilege and it comes with responsibility. I went to a small public high school, and I was lucky enough to have some amazing teachers, to be put on the right track, and to be able to attend Davidson. I want to learn more about how to take what I am learning in the classroom and use it to build strong communities that can change the status quo.
  • A Focus on Financial Aspects: I want to learn more about the financial aspects of nonprofits. I am very familiar with organizations with strong values, driven by a mission statement, but I don’t know much about how they function when it comes to financial aspects. This is one reason I am so grateful to be working with Next Stage – I get to see the nonprofit world through a new lens.
  • How to Build from the Ground Up: I want to learn the stories of some of those who run nonprofits in Mecklenburg County – what work they have done before and the path that has led them to running a nonprofit. I’m excited to get to work with the heads of the nonprofits in CULTIVATE‘s 2020 Cohort; I think they have valuable insight into what the day-to-day work of running a nonprofit is like.

Although joining the team in a remote role this summer is not what we expected, I’m really looking forward to working with Next Stage over the next two months. Especially during these unusual times, I look forward to learning how the Charlotte nonprofit community supports each other in times of crisis.