BENNINGTON -- Students aspiring to enter the nonprofit sector and nonprofit professionals hoping to improve their management skills now have the opportunity to enroll in a localized nonprofit certificate program being offered through Marlboro College's Graduate School.

The classes will be held at the Meals on Wheels Café at 124 Pleasant St., Bennington, Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 20 and ending on Dec. 6.

According to Kate Jellema, the director of Marlboro College's Nonprofit Management programs, the course will build expertise in the 10 core competencies needed by nonprofit staff, including fundraising, strategic planning, budgeting, and conflict resolution, and is designed for current and aspiring executive directors and other people seeking a comprehensive set of skills for nonprofit management.

"We try to focus on knowledge that is very practical," Jellema said. "Students will learn tools on Friday that they will be able to apply in their own organization on Monday."

Marlboro's Nonprofit Management Certificate is now in its fifth year in Vermont. This fall marks the first time it has been offered in Bennington County.

Jellema said that the downtown location in Bennington is ideal for students who may not be able to travel a long distance for continuing education. She is also passionate about the school's partnership with the Meals on Wheels Café.

"The Meals on Wheels Café is a success story and a model for the rest of the state," Jellema said. "We're very pleased to partner with such a dynamic local organization to bring our Certificate program to Bennington."

Jellema explained that each Friday class is set to be taught by a different instructor, nine to be exact, all of whom, according to Jellema, are experts in their fields, including Andy Robinson, national consultant and author, Dr. Elaine Young, professor of marketing at Champlain College and Jeff Bercuvitz, the founding director of SPARKS Center for Leadership, Innovation and Community.

"This course was an incredible resource for me," said program alumnus Kate Anderson. "The lecturers were in-the-trenches thinkers and active practitioners of their subjects. I came away with a clearer recognition of my own specific abilities and strengths and was encouraged to venture into those fields and envision more boldly."

Susan Fox, executive director of the Meals on Wheels program in Bennington, completed the program herself in 2010 and said she is happy to be hosting the next round of nonprofit professionals in Bennington.

"Marlboro does a great job of giving the students the skills they need to be successful in this field and be a nonprofit leader," she said. "When I began taking the program, I was the board chair of Meals on Wheels and then transitioned into being the executive director. While I felt capable, I didn't feel that I had all of the skills to run an organization like you would run a business. This program helped me feel more prepared."

Fox also noted the program's convenient location, which she feels of the many students will find helpful.

"There are lots of things people may want to take advantage of, but aren't able to commit because they just can't travel 50 or 60 miles for a class," she said. "It will be a real benefit to have this opportunity locally for people."

In addition to the nonprofit certificate program, Marlboro College's Graduate School is partnering with Watershed Coaching to offer a leadership program for women executives in Bennington County known as the Women's Leadership Circle.

The six-month program will run from October to March, beginning on Oct. 17.

"We come together for an intense period to develop leadership skills, create a network, learn more about ourselves, and to have an impact," said program founder Kerry Secrest.

According to Jellema, the program is geared towards women leaders in business, the state sector, private practices, and the nonprofit sector, who wish to grow into their roles more fully.

An informational webinar regarding information for both programs was held on Thursday. Jellema described program content, outcomes and faculty, and shared options for financial aid. The informational session will be repeated in a face-to-face format at the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce in Manchester on Sept. 10 at 12:30 p.m.

To learn more about Marlboro Graduate School's nonprofit certificate program, visit www.nonprofit.marlboro.edu or call Jellema at 802-451-7510.

Those interested in becoming involved in the Women's Leadership Circle may visit www.watershedcoachingllc.com/circles.