Midland Shared Spaces is the most recent example of an effort to respond to the needs of our nonprofit sector.
In 2011, a group of community volunteers gathered to ask what more can be done to serve our nonprofits and collectively advance their work. That early conversation resulted in an invitation to the Nonprofit Centers Network (NCN) to learn more about the concept of shared space and shared services. Attended by funders and nonprofits alike, it became apparent that there was an appetite to learn more. Later that year, Abell-Hanger hired Mark Palmer, then the Special Projects Manager, to pursue the establishment of a shared space facility for Midland County.
We were still unsure that if we built it they would come. So, once again, we engaged with the NCN to run a feasibility study to determine the level of interest that existed among nonprofits as well as the amenities they would like to have available in a shared space.
In December of 2011 our hope was confirmed. The recommendation came back for a 30,000-40,000 sq. ft. facility. Work began in earnest to make this happen. We filed for our charitable status and created an independent nonprofit that would own and manage the facility, Midland Shared Spaces. A board of directors was assembled from the advisory committee, fundraising efforts started and we were on our way.
In May of 2012, the old Hillcrest School building was purchased. This 42,000 sq. ft. facility offered ample space to house numerous organizations, shared meeting space, shared work space, training rooms, a community room and a kitchen.
This period in Midland also saw the advent of several new foundations and trusts. Collaborations that had never been possible before were now conceivable. The Scharbauer Foundation, the Henry Foundation, Greathouse and Rea Charitable Trusts, the Wayne and Jo Ann Moore Foundation and many more joined the initiative.
In January of 2014 the facility opened over 80% occupied. By the end of the year it was over 95% occupied and has remained so since then.
There have been two unexpected outcomes of this initiative. First, Midland Shared Spaces has become the hub of nonprofit life in Midland, TX. With 16 nonprofits housed under one roof and the availability for any organization to use the meeting space for training, board meetings and programming, it has become a central nonprofit resource.
The second unexpected outcome is the collaborations that have emerged. They range from the informal discussions that take place in the hallways and breakrooms among colleagues to memorandums of understanding signed by collaborative partners to utilize another agencies services to increase the quality of their own. In one case, an affinity group has emerged that now shares a common website to direct their unique clientele to the help they need.
Visit the Midland Shared Spaces website.
"We are proud of the continuing good work of Midland Shared Spaces and are always available to share our piece of the story for fellow funders or anyone interested in replicating this model." Mark Palmer, Executive Director Abell-Hanger Foundation.