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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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Students Strive to Change Lives

November 12, 2018
Students Strive to Change Lives
Senior business students present a check to a past grant recipient.
Nebraska Business seniors enrolled in the Leading People and Projects (MNGT 411) class graduate with more than knowledge of what it takes to give back to their community – they are empowered to lead each stage of the grant application process, concluding with the distribution of up to $10,000 per semester to local nonprofits. The class project, known as Strive to Thrive Lincoln, receives funding from the combined efforts of Rhonda Seacrest, a long-time community volunteer with a passion for education, and Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation.

“Teaching others to support nonprofits and be philanthropists is something my late husband, Jim, believed in and shared with others by leading through example," said Seacrest, who gave the program an undisclosed amount to assure its continuity and expand participation in the program. "This course allows students to learn about the mission and goals of area nonprofits, to visit them to get a better understanding about what they do and who they serve and to award funds that directly impact the community.”

Dean Kathy Farrell and Rhonda Seacrest.
Dean Kathy Farrell and Rhonda Seacrest
Organizations receiving a combined $20,000 during the 2017-18 academic year included Bright Lights, City Impact, Child Advocacy Center, Lincoln Literacy and Clinic with a Heart. In addition to granting money, students also provide their time to various nonprofits such as Friendship Home, Habitat for Humanity, Lincoln Food Bank, People City Mission and others.

“People come first in our class name because people are most important,” said Dr. Amber Messersmith, lecturer of management, who teaches the course. “We went above donating money in the grant process and also donated our time. We coordinated five service projects earlier in the semester, and participated in activities in class to reflect on our service experiences.”

Although some students plan on spending their careers working at nonprofits, Angela Boule, development director of Clinic with a Heart, noted the power all business students possess to change lives regardless of their career path.

“We asked in the site visits if students were thinking about going into nonprofits and a couple hands went up, but it hit us later that it’s also about all those people in the business world. Clinic with a Heart doesn’t exist without support from businesses and professionals who donate their services and time,” said Boule.

Student teams handle publicity, applicant communication, social media and online presence, site visit coordination, class evaluation, external engagement, service project coordination and the awarding ceremony. The students outline each detail of the process including the grant mission, which changes each semester.