CNN Heroes at Annenberg Alchemy
Nonprofit Leadership Development

Annenberg Alchemy

Annenberg Alchemy is a free capacity building and leadership development program designed to assist small to midsized Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations and their leaders.

Since 2006, the Annenberg Foundation has provided capacity building and leadership training programs for nonprofit leaders from small-to-midsized nonprofit organizations. Alchemy's focus is on the working relationship between the Executive Director and the Board Chair, which is why the presence of both parties at all training sessions is required.

Many donate to charities, but for extraordinary leaders, giving means more.

Alchemy Leadership Seminars and Leadership Labs

In response to continued demand by the Greater Los Angeles nonprofit community, the Foundation is pleased to announce that Alchemy Leadership Seminar will begin again in early 2017. The goal of Alchemy is to reach aspiring nonprofit leaders, align executive directors and board chairs, and connect them to resources that will support their readiness to lead organizations and produce results, which in turn will help them build healthy, resilient, and extraordinary communities. Among the central issues addressed in Alchemy Leadership Seminar are effective fundraising, board governance and effectiveness, and financial literacy. Alchemy’s capacity building and leadership development program is focused on serving nonprofit organizations and their leaders located in the five-county region of Greater Los Angeles with budgets up to $5 million.

In addition to the Leadership Seminar, we will also offer Alchemy Leadership Labs. The Leadership Lab program will be a free series of both entry-level and advanced half-day and full-day workshops covering a range of topics including governance, financial sustainability, social media and technology, social entrepreneurship, storytelling (developing a compelling case for support), succession planning, and advocacy and civic engagement. These interactive sessions will be led by some of the top experts in their respective fields and will give participants the skills and knowledge to build stronger nonprofits.

To ensure the relevance of the issues addressed in Alchemy Leadership Seminars and Leadership Labs, workshop topics are based on Alchemy alumni feedback and their needs and priorities. The sole cost of the full-day workshops is the full participation of an organization's executive director and board chair. The half-day sessions will be open to all levels of staff, particularly development and program staff. The 2017 calendar and application process will be announced in late 2016.


Alchemy+, the higher level course for graduates of Leadership Seminar who want to take their learning further, will be held during 2016-2017. Among the central issues addressed are fundraising, board governance and effectiveness, financial literacy, and developing a strong case for support. In addition to intensive learning sessions, participants are given implementation tools and an ongoing opportunity to share best practices and innovative strategies.

Successful completion qualifies an organization to apply for a capacity building grant up to $10,000. All alumni of past Alchemy's Leadership Seminars and Annenberg Nonprofit Leadership Seminars that meet the eligibility requirements listed below can apply for Alchemy+:

  • Alchemy+ is open to alumni of Alchemy's Leadership Seminar and Annenberg Nonprofit Leadership Seminar (held 2006-2009) at no cost to organizations.
  • Executive Director must have attended all three Alchemy Leadership Seminar sessions with the board chair, as well as completed and submitted all assignments required within the given deadline.
  • Attendance by the executive director and board chair is mandatory at all three Alchemy+ sessions.

 The application period for 2016-2017 Alchemy+ trainings is now closed. The dates for the required Alchemy+ trainings can be downloaded for your information only (PDF).

Alchemy Gold

Alchemy Gold reflects the Annenberg Foundation’s commitment to working with and enlisting other funders to make sustained investments in nonprofit capacity building. A network of regional grantmakers gather quarterly to learn, share and strategize about practices that strengthen the nonprofit sector of Los Angeles. Thirty-seven grantmakers have participated in Alchemy Gold since it began in 2010. Collectively, these funders have provided capacity-building grants to Alchemy+ graduates.

CNN Heroes

In 2012, the Annenberg Foundation announced a first-ever collaboration with CNN Heroes to provide free nonprofit leadership training for the Top 10 CNN Heroes and a select number of CNN Heroes from past years through a customized version of Annenberg Alchemy. We're pleased to announce that we are collaborating for a fifth year with CNN Heroes to provide free nonprofit leadership training for the 2016 Top 10 CNN Heroes.