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What is the Programs Department?

The purpose of the Programs Department is to assess and understand the economic and social factors which negatively impact Urban League constituents and to design, test and implement, through our affiliate network, innovative solutions to address these problems.

In February 2005, the National Urban League’s Board of Trustees created and launched the Strategic Planning Council to develop a strategic plan to guide the NUL through its centennial in 2010.

The NUL strategic plan focuses our work and directs our resources towards becoming – and assisting affiliates to become – recognized architects of change with regard to the economic conditions and educational attainment of African Americans. We will achieve this by, among other things, strengthening delivery of our current programs and developing innovative programs and policies that demonstrably enhance our constituents’ economic status.
Specifically, NUL will:

  1. Research, develop and pilot innovative programs and champion work we want to be known for in the area of economic empowerment;
  2. Support the affiliates’ work in targeted economic and education arenas.

The strategy also calls for NUL to improve execution in all aspects of its operations, by, among other things, increasing services and support to its affiliates and requiring annual plans for and evaluation of its own work.

The goal of the strategic plan is to better deliver on the Urban League Movement’s mission directly and through support of the affiliates by targeting and developing NUL’s resources for maximum impact.


How big is the Programs Department?

Overall, the National Urban League operates 25 national programs and re-grants approximately 25 million dollars a year to local Urban League affiliates.

The Programs Department has five divisions


  • Education and Youth Development
  • Entrepreneurship and Business Development
  • Health and Quality of Life
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Workforce Development

How does the Programs Department help communities?

The Programs Department designed Signature Programs that are scalable, evidence-based and demonstrably enhance our constituents’ economic or educational status.

Community Health Worker promotes healthy lifestyles among African Americans, improves their health outcomes and their access to healthcare and other community assets, and influences public policy in favor of community health worker models.

Entrepreneurship Centers provide management counseling, mentoring and training services geared toward the development of management skills enabling minority entrepreneurs to obtain financing and /or contracts that support job creation and preservation.

Financial Literacy: changing financial behavior (not just increasing financial knowledge) is essential for a person to reach financial goals and achieve financial well being. The goal is to bring low- to moderate-income families and individuals into the economic mainstream of the 21st century.

Foreclosure Prevention is the major pillar of Restore Our Homes, a wide-ranging multi-media campaign to raise awareness about foreclosure prevention and motivate homeowners to take advantage of free, intensive counseling by certified counselors.

Homeownership Preparation helps potential first-time homebuyers identify appropriate lenders, and, where applicable, down payment assistance and soft second mortgage programs.

Project Ready helps 8th - 12th grade students make academic progress, benefit from cultural enrichment opportunities and develop important skills, attitudes and aptitudes that will aid in their transition from high school and position them for post-secondary success.

Urban Youth Empowerment Program started as an innovative demonstration to provide work readiness preparation, internships and on-the-job training to youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and are seen as “at-risk.” The goal of UYEP is to reduce the risks that these young people face, such as long-term unemployment and incarceration.

Urban Seniors Jobs Program provides subsidized, service-based training for low-income, unemployed persons 55 or older. USJP provides workers with on-the-job training to help them develop the skills and confidence to find unsubsidized employment. 

Youth Development provides participants with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be successful in school, in their communities and in the world at large.

How does the Programs Department benefit funders?

As both public and private funders seek to build the capacity of the local service delivery sector, we function as a strategic partner in achieving these goals. Serving as an intermediary, the NUL provides the following benefits to funders:

  • National branding and marketing opportunities
  • Extend the reach of the funder into under-served and disinvested communities
  • Bridge the credibility gap
  • Build local capacity
  • Increase efficiency
  • Leverage experience and expertise
  • Increase effectiveness

The NUL takes specific actions that make us a particularly effective partner, such as:

  • Align with communities we serve – the Urban League, both at the national and local levels, is culturally competent and reflects the values of the community we serve.
  • Offer a variety of replicable services – our Signature Programs represent the packaging of best practices for replication. Additionally, the Urban League is widely viewed by the community as the trusted place to go for assistance.
  • Commit for the long haul – the Urban League movement has been committed to our mission to empower African Americans for over 100 years.
  • Attract the best – we attract high-quality staff with substantial subject matter expertise and experience in their fields.
  • Focus on outcomes – we collect, analyze and report outcome data, and use this data to improve services.
  • Maintain high standards – each Urban League affiliate is assessed based on a rigorous set of fiscal, governance and program delivery standards to ensure effective performance.
  • Manage effective re-granting – we have a rigorous and fair process for soliciting applications, selecting subgrantees, distributing and monitoring awards, and reporting on subgrant activities.
  • Sustaining new initiatives – we have a track record of starting and maintaining new initiatives.
  • Build powerful partnerships - the Urban League has a strong history and culture of collaboration and partnership.

How does the Programs Department help affiliates?

The NUL provides the following value-added benefits to our local affiliate network:

  • Connecting with resources – financial, in-kind, human resources.
  • Improving organizational sustainability and capacity – we provide essential skill-building, training, and technical assistance.
  • Enhancing service delivery – we help improve program design and both the quality and quantity of service delivery.
  • Distributing best practices – by serving as a Research and Development arm, we identify and disseminate relevant information, lessons learned, promising practices, replicable models, and innovations with our affiliate network.
  • Publicizing successes – we capture the impact and results of affiliate programs which may lead to new support or partnerships.

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