“We have to help each other.”
Suchitra Iyer, the Development Director at Sound Experience, sees partnerships as the future for nonprofits. Sound Experience has been operating for over 30 years, offering youth programs aboard the schooner Adventuress on the waters of the Salish Sea. A huge part of their mission is to motivate youth to care about the future of the waterways and to protect the health of the Salish Sea for the coming generations. They are experts at always looking to the future.
Their unique mission, combining the historic preservation of Adventuress (a 107-year-old National Historic Landmark), education, and environmental activism, all around youth development programs, can’t be easily categorized. Is it benefiting youth, the environment, maritime culture, local history? It can be difficult to explain to the curious observer, but for anyone who has participated in their programing over the past 30+ years, the importance of their work is clear.
The key to their success is combining their resources and environment with the right community and partners. They worked with other nonprofits to connect at-promise youth, who might not have other opportunities to be on the water or to learn how to sail, with programming aboard Adventuress. These can be transformative experiences, opening up new career possibilities to the youth who participate. They can visit various educational stations that help them envision careers in marine biology and maritime businesses. By investing in youth development through connections with history, environmentalism, and maritime culture, they create a hopeful future for not only those who participate, but for an entire region that is entwined with the Salish Sea.
Iyer knows how much their organization is strengthened by weaving together these different components into their mission. She also recognizes the value of being part of a diverse community and emphasizes that Sound Experience doesn’t work alone: “The way forward for us and other nonprofits is partnerships.” Nonprofits and community groups are critical to our communities and rarely fully resourced. Working in partnership with each other not only opens up new opportunities for nonprofits, it also opens up a new future for the nonprofit sector. Collaboration creates new ideas, leads to new pathways to success, and strengthens the sustainability our communities.
Sound Experience sails the historic schooner Adventuress to educate, inspire, and empower an inclusive community that works to improve our marine environment and celebrates our maritime heritage. They have been a Washington Nonprofits member since 2013.