Nonprofit Tech Readiness for Civic Engagement and Social Justice


Even before COVID-19, technology was changing the way that every nonprofit pursued its mission. For many, the global pandemic has forced an acceleration of those changes. The Ford Foundation and NTEN have seen the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit sector, with organizations making technology decisions amidst significant uncertainty. NTEN and the Ford Foundation have partnered to provide the Nonprofit Tech Readiness (NTR) cohorts for grantees funded through the Civic Engagement and Government program to directly support and increase their technology capacity and leadership.

Whether organizations are looking to integrate their disparate systems, increase their security, or create an inclusive IT roadmap for the coming year, this is a unique opportunity that combines training, coaching, and direct support to help staff and their nonprofit increase its capacity for digital success.

NTR is a six-month cohort program for nonprofit professionals interested in boosting technology management and planning in their organizations. Our goal is to significantly elevate nonprofits’ technology capacity by strengthening participants’ knowledge of best practices for technology planning, budgeting, and decision-making while supporting them in advancing a technology project specific to their organization.

Applications for the Fall 2021 cohort are open from August 16 to September 10, 2021.

Community Call

Watch a recording of the August 20 Community Call NTEN hosted for grantees to learn more about the program.

How does it work?

NTR combines online educational sessions and leadership development. Participants learn from nonprofit technology experts and receive guidance and training to support technology projects at their organizations. The educational sessions reflect the major departmental areas across an organization. This comprehensive training provides every participant, regardless of their current job, a full view of best practices, strategic decision-making processes, and knowledge for managing technologies in all areas of an organization.

NTR Orientation — October 2021
Program orientation via web conference to answer questions, check everyone’s online access and account settings and provide detailed information about the 6-month calendar.

Cohort Sessions — October 2021–March 2022
During the six-month cohort, participants engage in a variety of learning and coaching activities. NTR includes:

  • Live Event Educational Series (months 1–5): a series of training sessions that cover the core competencies of technology planning, budgeting, implementation, and evaluation across an organization.
  • Self-Paced Training Series (months 3–6): a series of self-paced sessions that cover additional competencies related to the topical focus of the cohort and best-practices.
  • Workshops (months 4–6): dedicated working sessions to provide skill-building and networking while helping you advance your technology project planning.
  • Leadership Development(months 3–6): facilitated process to coach you in providing project feedback, practicing, and modeling experiences you can replicate in your organizations.
  • Technology Projects (months 1–6): coaching and support for your unique project that will make a critical and lasting impact on your programs, including direct support on project planning, culture change, and a successful path for implementation.
  • Open Office Hours (months 1–6): Drop-in opportunities to get direct support.
A timeline showing the phases of the six-month cohort as listed in the bulleted list above.

Nonprofit Technology Conference — March 23–25, 2022
All cohort participants are provided with free full registration to NTEN’s 22NTC virtual conference. There are no required sessions, but participants find the NTC’s energy and the many opportunities for jump-starting their learning to be of high value.

Culmination Celebration — April 2022
Participants are invited to celebrate all that they have learned and worked on during the cohort, along with colleagues, board members, program contributors and coaches, and more. This virtual celebration includes inspiring guest speakers as well as time for participants to share their achievements.


The following are general topics covered during NTR. The final list varies as it’s tailored to each cohort’s needs. Additionally, new courses will be woven into the curriculum as they become available.

  • Emerging Tech Trends and Their Impact on Social Good.
  • Using Tech to Streamline Operations.
  • Digital Success for Nonprofits.
  • Design Tools for Non-designers.
  • Basics of Equitable Program Design.
  • Campaign Planning.
  • IT Planning and Assessment.
  • Leading with Technology Roadmaps.
  • Technology Project Planning & Design.
  • Personas & Journey Mapping

Time commitment

NTR is a six-month program. Participants should anticipate 8-10 hours per month of program-related work.


NTR is provided to participants free of charge. The largest investment comes from participants of their time and their organizations in supporting staff with the time to participate fully. We are grateful for the support from Ford Foundation for providing the resources to bring this program to grantees. 

Who should apply

Nonprofit staff in grantee organizations funded by the Ford Foundation’s Civic Engagement and Government program interested in practical and tangible technology training are encouraged to apply. Participants should be staff responsible for the advancement and implementation of a technology project at their organization. This may include staff from anywhere within an organization, but we do not include board members or volunteers.

Additional Resources

In addition to the coaching, training, and support provided as part of the NTR cohort, participants receive access to all courses required to earn NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate for free if they choose to pursue a certificate. Participants also receive continued access to all materials after the program is complete and continued access to the dedicated online community space.

Thanks to Ford Foundation’s commitment to participants’ success, all cohort participants who complete the included course materials, workshops, and coaching are eligible for additional cash awards to advance their technology project.


Applications for the 2021 Fall cohort closed on September 10. Applications for the 2022 Spring cohort open in March 2022.