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May 3rd, 2022

Supporting Grassroots Causes in North Carolina

We provide a community of volunteers to lean on.


Alanna Markowitz

Meet Precious McKoy, Founder of the SHIELD Mentor Program, a Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-led grassroots organization that’s entirely volunteer-run. Back in 2008, she quit her job as a web developer to found SHIELD and dedicated herself full-time to providing leadership development and educational resources to minority youth. Since their founding, SHIELD has served over 750 youth in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Precious has had access to Catchafire since 2019. This support has enabled her to weather the challenges of running a small nonprofit while keeping the youth and families she serves at the heart of her work.

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“We’ve been around for a while, but we’re still grassroots. We’re on the ground everyday, and we’re people who have had lived experiences and have a heart for young people, but we’re not wealthy or anything like that. We’re powered by the generosity of Catchafire and its partners.”



Like many nonprofits, SHIELD was hit hard by COVID-19. Precious’ regular volunteers were displaced, and as the leader of a volunteer-run organization, that meant the loss of her workforce. At the same time, SHIELD was forced to pivot to a fully virtual mentorship model. Catchafire offered Precious the solution she needed: access to high-quality talent who could support SHIELD from the comfort of their homes.


“Honestly we were just in a crunch and I’m one person. I legitimately needed help. I needed qualified individuals who could take immediate action in order for us to pivot into a virtual environment.”



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Running an entire organization alone is a tough job, and sometimes a lonely one. For Precious, access to Catchafire means more than just access to high-quality volunteers – it represents a community that she can lean on.


“I spent most of my career in an office with coworkers, and once I stepped away from my full-time job to do this work…it gets a little bit lonely not knowing who to reach out to. To be able to connect with people and just to know that there’s a community out there that I can reach out to if I need an extra push of motivation or support, or just fresh ideas – it makes me feel like I’m not alone in doing this work.”



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SHIELD has completed 6 projects through Catchafire. Volunteers have helped Precious revamp her marketing and fundraising strategies, create a new onboarding plan, and develop high-quality multimedia assets. Catchafire has saved SHIELD $28,584 of critical funds and 159 hours of staff time. That’s 159 hours that Precious was able to put towards doing what she does best: developing the next generation of BIPOC leaders.


“Catchafire has provided us with the professionalism and tools we need to handle the administrative tasks that are required to keep us going so that we can focus on the programming.”



But the impact these volunteers make reach well beyond the numbers. For example, Precious posted a simple email marketing project, but what she received in return was much more than that.



"The volunteer we had was just so incredible with his words, and it was almost like he’d brought to life the work we’d been doing all along. It was just magical to see it put into words like that.”



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By donating their skills and expertise, Catchafire volunteers can directly support grassroots leaders like Precious. Through capacity-building projects, our volunteers ultimately enable organizations like SHIELD to serve more youth on the ground.


“I’m incredibly thankful to have this as a resource…I’m really grateful that Catchafire has committed to helping nonprofits like ours. I know that it will go a long way, and that we’ll be able to serve more youth and families.”



There’s many ways to get involved with Catchafire:

  • Sign up to volunteer and support critical programming for nonprofits.
  • If you’re a grantmaker and would like to learn more about equipping nonprofits in your community with responsive, high-quality operational support, let’s connect. Email us here.