As one of the NCBP’s recent Capacity Building Champions, the Steam Railroading Institute serves as a great example of what can happen when an organization is committed to change. And they are a prime example that change doesn’t come fast and it doesn’t come easy.
One of SRI’s primary challenges during the capacity building process was moving the organization from a “club of like-minded enthusiasts” to a fully functioning nonprofit business enterprise. This required key changes to staffing, governance and the general thinking about SRI and its future. SRI worked with consultants in the area of human resources and financial management during its two-year process. There were many tough conversations and many difficult decisions, but SRI has come out stronger on the other side.
As part of its Completion Grant process, SRI has undertaken a capital campaign to the tune of $700,000. The bulk of this campaign is focused on the required rebuild and ongoing maintenance of the beloved 1225, the steam engine that served as the model for The Polar Express. The Capital Campaign will help SRI leverage $346,000 in grant funding from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program, administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, and a grant of $30,000 from the North American Railway Foundation. In addition to enhancing its relationship with foundations and individual donors, a key component of SRI’s success is its partnership with the Baker College campuses in Owosso and Burton.
SRI’s programming helps tell the story of Michigan’s industrial history, provides entertainment and education for visiting families from around the globe, and adds to the economic base of Shiawassee County as a tourist destination. For more on the great work being done by SRI, click here.