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Sanford Board Leadership Initiative

The Sanford Board Leadership Initiative (SBLI) places Duke Masters in Public Policy students as non-voting members on local nonprofit leadership boards for one calendar year. This partnership offers nonprofits strategic support from graduate students with policy-specific knowledge and the opportunity for students to learn about nonprofit governance.

Modeled after the business school’s Fuqua on Board Program out of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, the SBLI was launched in the fall of 2010 to better connect Sanford students with the nonprofit scene in Durham. The program places first-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) students on the boards of local nonprofits for a full calendar year as non-voting members, and generally requires about 8-12 hours a month. SBLI is a two-semester commitment that begins in January of an MPP’s first year and continues through the fall of their second year. This timeline is designed with the MPP academic schedule in mind, maximizing involvement and developmental opportunities.

Information sessions with details about the SBLI program take place at the start of the fall semester. Student applications are then emailed to the entire 1st year MPP cohort between mid-September to mid-October. Students who apply to the program are invited to an interview to learn more about their professional background and motivations to participate in the program. The SBLI leadership team, comprised of Stanford staff members and 2nd year students, match students to a non-profit board according to interest and skills. The program is competitive, with roughly twice the number of students applying to the program as there are spots available. Matches are confirmed by the end of the fall semester. Selected students start their position as a non-voting board member the following January and stay on the board for a full calendar year term. Non-profit organizations rotate each year with the student’s policy interest and organization’s project needs in mind.
For MPP students interested in applying to SBLI, please note, participating in SBLI does waive 3 credits towards the management and leadership requirement, but does not count towards the overall credits needed to complete the degree.
Both MPP students and non-profit organizations who are interested in participating in the SBLI program should contact Mackenzie (