Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management

BootCamp for New Nonprofit CEOs

Covid-19 Update:

Thank you for your interest in the Axelson Center’s 2020 BootCamp for New Nonprofit Executive Directors. Due to Covid-19, BootCamp 2020 has been rescheduled to January 6 – 8, 2021. BootCamp is best offered as a face-to-face program where participants can benefit fully from interaction with faculty and colleagues in the room. During the 14 years that we have hosted BootCamp on the North Park campus, evaluations have been consistent—participants learn as much from colleagues in the room as they do from our dedicated and experienced faculty.

As you know, due to the pandemic, things can change quickly. Please sign up for our mailing list so that you receive up-to-date information about BootCamp.

Why BootCamp?

Leading an organization, engaging stakeholders, raising funds, and managing staff can be challenging. BootCamp allows you to invest in yourself as a leader for three eye-opening days of professional growth.

Hear from expert speakers on a range of topics including:

  • Fundraising
  • Board governance
  • Strategic planning
  • Human resources management
  • Project management

Connect with other nonprofit executive directors from across a variety of subsectors for support and collaborative solutions to the challenges you wrestle with in your leadership role.

In order to be considered for this program, an applicant must:

  • Serve as the CEO/Executive Director (the highest position in the organization) or begin serving in this role by the first day of BootCamp
  • Have been in the CEO/Executive Director position for 3 years or less
  • Be willing to participate in all three full-day sessions

If you have a question about your eligibility, please contact us before submitting an application.

  • The BootCamp program fee will remain at $895 for this year’s cohort. (Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we have canceled a planned increase to the BootCamp fee for this year).
  • Breakfast, lunch, and program materials are included.
  • Applicants from organizations with an annual budget under $1 million are eligible for a $200 scholarship. (Note: this scholarship will automatically be applied to the fee if accepted into the program.)
  • Applicants are required to pay a $50 deposit when submitting their application. If accepted, this deposit is subtracted from the overall program cost.
  • Participants will be invoiced for the remaining balance prior to the start of BootCamp.
  • Payment is due in full by the first day of BootCamp.

We use an online application. Applicants are not able to save work and return later to complete this form. Please make sure you have the items in the checklist below ready before beginning the application process. Allow at least 30 minutes to complete. After completing the application, please follow the Paypal link provided to pay the required $50 deposit. If you would like to pay by check, please contact us.

  1. Short answer responses
    • What are your organization’s mission, vision, and values statements?
    • Why do you want to attend BootCamp? What are your learning objectives?
    • At present, what is your most significant leadership challenge(s)?
  2. Current, detailed resume outlining your work and educational background
  3. One brief letter of reference in support of your application (e.g. from board member)*

*An applicant’s letter of support can be submitted directly to us via email.

All BootCamp sessions will take place at North Park University. Free parking is available and the campus is easily accessible via public transit. Also, there is a Divvy bike station at the northeast end of campus at the intersection of Foster and Kedzie Avenues.

The Axelson Center does not offer overnight accommodations for this program, however, there are many nearby lodging options.

What Past Participants Tell Us About BootCamp

  • “Because of BootCamp, I feel empowered and focused in my executive director role.”
  • “I learned how to effectively wield the influence of my leadership for the benefit of the organization.”
  • “Great, easy to implement suggestions for leading and thinking strategically. Very engaging.”
  • “Excellent practical information, knowledgeable speakers.”
  • “Outstanding resource for future use—essential content.”
  • “What sets BootCamp apart is the time and opportunity to process and reflect, and walk away with a plan. Invaluable and amazing!”

If you are not selected to participate in BootCamp, you will receive a refund of your application deposit by check. Any accepted applicant choosing to cancel their registration or withdraw from BootCamp will receive a refund of their program fee minus a $25 administrative fee. Notice of cancellation must be received by the Axelson Center three weeks before the first day of BootCamp in order to be eligible for a refund. No refunds can be made after that date.


Please contact us.

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