October 3, 2008

There is a common thread in the two awards to be given by the University of Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Initiative - service to the community.

The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development of Berea and Marian Guinn, chief executive of God's Pantry Food Bank of Lexington, will receive the 2008 Fifth Third Bank Innovative Nonprofit Award and the Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award, respectively. The awards will be presented at the Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum Oct. 16 at the Lexington Convention Center.

The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development's Common Cents Financial Initiative works to improve the quality of life in Kentucky and central Appalachia by creating economic opportunities, strengthening democracy and supporting the sustainable use of natural resources. Their Common Cents Financial Initiative was selected for the 2008 award because of its innovative approach to meeting the needs of lower income working families.

The program is the first in the state, and possibly the country, to work with employers to offer employees an affordable alternative to payday loans. Since the launch of the Common Cents Financial Initiative in 2007, the association has partnered with nine businesses to help 193 individuals by providing short-term, unsecured emergency credit, representing $29,000 in accumulated savings. The initiative increases the financial security of lower income consumers and helps them break out of the cycle of debt by offering access to much needed emergency funds at a reasonable interest rate, as well as other services including savings accounts and financial counseling.

The Innovative Nonprofit Award was created by the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative in partnership with Fifth Third Bank to recognize a nonprofit organization implementing inventive, nontraditional programs or methods that effectively and efficiently meet community needs. The selected organization was required to demonstrate creativity and vision in finding solutions to address community issues. Any registered 501(c)(3) organization located and operating in Kentucky was eligible for the award.

Marian Guinn is the recipient of the first Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award. Guinn has served as CEO of God's Pantry for 11 years and was previously the director of development at UK Chandler Hospital. Guinn was recognized as a member of the University of Kentucky Carol M. Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 2007 and was named America's Second Harvest Executive Director of the Year in April 2008. The UK Nonprofit Leadership Initiative chose her for the 2008 award based on her outstanding service and leadership in the nonprofit community.

The Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award was created to recognize achievement in the areas of strategic leadership, community building, ethical integrity, innovation and commitment to strengthening the nonprofit sector.

Both awards will be presented at the sixth annual Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum, the only statewide gathering for Kentucky's nonprofit leaders. The forum is hosted each year by the UK Nonprofit Leadership Initiative.

The UK Nonprofit Leadership Initiative is an outreach program of the UK College of Agriculture. It serves and strengthens Kentucky's nonprofit sector through educational opportunities, consulting services, and resources for organizations and their leaders. Registration for the Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum is open until Oct. 10, and tickets to the award luncheon are available. Additional information is available at www.kynonprofits.org or by calling 859-257-2542.

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