The Professional Standard

The Certificate in Education Foundation Leadership, CEFL, is the professional standard and is the only certification program designed exclusively for education foundation leaders and executives. This program provides foundation leaders with specific skills and knowledge required to lead and manage an education foundation, regardless of size.

Across the country, education foundations and their leaders need to operate more efficiently to impact the education community they serve, more effectively. The CEFL Certification Program strengthens an education foundation to succeed now and into the future with proven standards of excellence for the administration and management of an education foundation regardless of foundation size,  geographic location, or education community served [IE: Public, Private, Charter, Magnet, and College].

Based on the Guiding Principles for Education Foundations, the CEFL Certification Program provides critical insights from subject matter experts in six domains. Specifically: Leadership & Planning, Marketing, Legal & Finance, Resource Development, Board Development, and Collaboration.

The Program 

The next cohort will begin in May 2023

The CEFL Certification Program is an asynchronous online platform which allows for both the integration of self-paced coursework with networking with peers from across the country.

This six-course, six-month program is ideal for education foundation leaders, foundation staff, and board members who are passionate about the advancement of the industry, their foundation, and their professional growth.

Potential Training Grants

Some States offer grants to cover training for nonprofit professionals.

See available funding in your State

Registration Fees

For access to the online learning platform, we must receive payment in advance of the course's start date.

The cost for the six-course program is $3,000 and we provide two payment options:

  • Pay in full and receive a 10% or $300 discount. Payment of $2,700 must be received on or before the start of CEFL 101.
  • Pay by the course at $500/each. We must receive payment before the start of each course.

For additional information about the CEFL Certification Program, please contact our Program Director, Sara Bender, CEFL.

Contact Sara
CEFL 101: Leadership & Planning

The Leadership & Planning course will provide an understanding of education foundation leadership and organizational development, strategic planning & implementation, program evaluation, volunteer management, liaison and support of the school district, constituent alliance, balancing the four entities of programs, administration, development, and marketing/public relations.

CEFL 102: Marketing

The Marketing course provides students with an opportunity to learn the basics of marketing while simultaneously applying and testing knowledge through the development of a social media marketing plan. It will include a mix of theoretical and practical learning assets that will enhance student's understanding of marketing, (infra)structure, market research, target markets, goals, strategies, and budgeting. Students will use Facebook (or an alternative platform) to test their marketing plan in real time. This will include using analytical data to make marketing decisions. The process followed will serve as a template for the Capstone project of this course and can be adapted for future marketing efforts.

CEFL 103: Legal & Finance

The Legal & Finance course will provide an understanding of the legal aspects and financial management of education foundations.  This will be accomplished via addressing key legal issues pertaining to non-profit organizations, both in set-up and in operation such as governing documents, legal & IRS requirements, donor responsibilities, gift restrictions, and ethical considerations on the legal side.  Financial management components of the course will include analyzing and reporting on financial statements, management’s responsibilities related to external audits, and budgeting for the organization. 

CEFL 104: Resource Development

The Resource Development course will provide an understanding of basic concepts, terminology, structure, revenue streams, and donor engagement demonstrated by a case for support. Students will be able to set and accomplish development goals in line with overall vision and mission of an education foundation.

CEFL 105: Board Development

The Board Development course will provide an understanding of non-profit board governance and fiduciary responsibilities.  It will include a review of the roles of boards, typical committee structures, on-boarding of new board members, and expectations.  Students will learn techniques to effectively engage board members in furthering the mission of their education foundation.  This will include various evaluation techniques for boards, developing board leadership and succession planning, helping the board to effectively engage a broad network in the community, and assisting the board with organizational planning.

CEFL 106: Collaboration

Education Foundation Collaboration will provide an understanding of appropriate educational and community engagement as it relates to improving the foundation’s performance. It will include a deep dive into school district structure, responsibilities of superintendents and school boards, and the district planning and budgeting process. Students will learn the most effective ways to work with their local district recognizing the similarities and differences between a school district and a nonprofit.


The information provided in the courses of the Certificate in Education Foundation Leadership Program [“CEFL Program”] is governed by our Program Terms of Use  and Privacy Policy. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute professional advice. Instead, information, content, and materials provided as part of the CEFL Program are considered best practices. Information within the CEFL Program contains links to third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the student or user; the NAEF and its members do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

No student or foundation should rely on the information in the CEFL Program in determining whether to act or refrain from acting. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of the CEFL Program are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is free of errors, inaccuracies, or misleading information.

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