Fifty Nebraska Business students began the semester looking to make an impact in the local community through a philanthropic class project called Strive to Thrive Lincoln. Those aspirations became a reality, as local non-profits received a total of $10,000 through student work administering a grant application project from beginning to end, concluding with an awards ceremony at Howard L. Hawks Hall on April 18. The students chose Lincoln Literacy and Clinic with a Heart to split the funding, which is provided through the generosity of Lincoln philanthropist Rhonda Seacrest. The project provided a model for business students to better understand both the procedures and benefits of the grant application process.
Timothy Wright, a senior business administration and accounting major from Dallas, experienced a new avenue for making a difference. He had a special connection with Lincoln Literacy having sat in on one of their English learning classes.
“It opened my eyes to what a literacy classroom looks like, and how a teacher makes a difference helping everyone learn,” said Wright. “Once our class made our mission statement with words like ‘enrich, educate and empower families in need,’ I felt like Lincoln Literacy fit the bill perfectly.”
Clayton Naff, executive director of Lincoln Literacy, believes the class project demonstrates to students the amount of hard work, yet satisfaction that can be gained from working at a non-profit. He said the money will support additional class work in the community.
“We have 21 sites where mostly immigrants and refugees from families learn English,” said Naff. “We have a program for children to make sure they’re ready for school, and to support their education once in school. We help parents become fluent and literate in English. We also help homegrown Americans who struggle with reading and writing. We depend on volunteers but we need structure to operate effectively, and that’s what funds like this accomplish.”
Clinic with a Heart provides free health care services to the community. Angela Boule, development director of the organization, sees the grant money her organization received from Strive to Thrive Lincoln as critical to providing support for people living with diabetes in the Lincoln area.
“When you have a patient living in poverty who also has diabetes it’s a double whammy, because all those conditions of diabetes are accentuated. Being able to have the money to help patients get the education they need to manage their disease is life changing,” said Boule.
She regards the Strive to Thrive project as life changing for business students too. Whether the students make their careers in non-profits or in business, she believes they can make an impact.
“Clinic with a Heart doesn’t exist without support from businesses and professionals who donate their services and time. I think that’s what students are learning. I never had a class like this that delves into real-world crises. They’re leaving college with a much better understanding of what’s happening in their communities,” she said.
Dr. Amber Messersmith, lecturer of management, teaches the Leading People and Projects (MGMT 411) course which facilitates Strive to Thrive Lincoln. She divided the class into eight teams handling publicity, applicant communication, social media and online presence, site visit coordination, class evaluation, external engagement, service project coordination and awards ceremony group.
“People come first in our class name because people are most important,” said Messersmith. “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.”
The five non-profits students served included City Impact, Friendship Home, Habitat for Humanity, Lincoln Food Bank and People City Mission. Jace Bausch, a junior management major from Lincoln, Nebraska, worked on the service project coordination team.
“Serving the non-profits had an impact by making us more conscious of ourselves and how we can help. Being a full-time student it’s hard to stay committed to family and friends, and also volunteer. However, this project showed me it not only helps others but also energizes ourselves. Finding time to help others gives us a greater sense of purpose,” said Bausch.
To learn more about Strive to Thrive Lincoln, visit: http://business.unl.edu/strivetothrive