Regional and National Capacity Building Programs

Since 2001, the DeVos Institute’s capacity building programs for managers and their boards have served more than 600 organizations in diverse communities throughout the United States and around the world.


The DeVos Institute’s senior leadership undertakes a rigorous exploratory phase when considering where to seek support and partners for a program. The Institute is primarily interested in “tipping-point” communities: areas where the environment is changing enough to encourage bold thinking, cross-sector collaboration, and organizational change.


For example, the Institute began work in Detroit in 2009, focusing on strategies to replace lost revenue when the “Big Three” auto manufacturers ceased their philanthropic efforts almost overnight. Not one of 52 participating organizations collapsed during that trying period: Several “right-sized” or merged, some re-focused their mission, and many flourished. Furthermore, the Institute’s work in Miami provided support during a period of unprecedented demographic change, the loss of several major corporate partners, and dramatic fluctuations in state-level spending on the arts.


No community is the same, but many share similar challenges. Therefore, the Institute’s approach blends universal best practices and rigorous localization.


For each program, the Institute combines core arts management training—principles that influence the sustainability of any arts organization worldwide—with subject-specific master-classes and one-on-one consultations tailored to the specific conditions faced by the local community. The DeVos Institute relies on extensive research and close collaboration with local partners to achieve this balance.


These two-year group intensives provide in-depth training and consultation to a cohort of arts organizations in a city or region. They combine in-person group training, web-based master classes, and one-on-one onsite consultation with each participating organization. These intensives address such critical topics as artistic planning, programmatic and institutional marketing, fundraising, board development, financial planning, strategic planning, technology management, and audience development.

Recent participants in the Institute's Arts Innovation and Management program, a two-year Capacity Building intensive in select cities across the U.S., were asked to share their feedback and results since beginning the sequence in 2015. These outcomes have been compiled into the video below, with submissions coming directly from participating organizations.

The DeVos Institute is currently leading Capacity Building Intensives in:

United States

  • Atlanta
    New Orleans
    St. Louis
    Washington, D.C.

The DeVos Institute has previously offered Capacity Building Intensives in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Greater San Jose, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Oregon, Orlando, and San Francisco as well as in Croatia, Vietnam, Trinidad & Tobago, and throughout England.

The DeVos Institute also led a six-year partnership with the Ford Foundation to provide intensive support to 27 organizations across the United States. These include four Native American communities, national service provider networks, and a wide array of community-based organizations working at the intersection of social justice and artistic practice.

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