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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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December 3, 2018

Philanthropy Comes Alive for Business Students

Philanthropy Comes Alive for Business Students
Rhonda Seacrest, Strive to Thrive Lincoln supporter, poses with students at the awarding ceremony.
Nebraska Business students participating in the MNGT 411 class project known as Strive to Thrive Lincoln, experienced a transformation this semester in their understanding of nonprofit organizations and the needs of the local community. Their task involved going through all aspects of the grant funding application process to award $10,000 to deserving community organizations, as well as getting involved in service projects to directly impact groups in need.

Students began the semester by setting a class mission to focus their funding priorities on organizations that empower disadvantaged families to attain sustainable, positive change. Natasha Hindia, a junior management major from Chicago, worked on a team tasked with coordinating site visits to 16 nonprofits so students could get a firsthand look at how they impact Lincoln, Nebraska, and Lancaster County. For Hindia, the experience gave her insights she can take wherever she goes after college.

Natasha Hindia and Dr Amber Messersmith before the awarding ceremony.
Natasha Hindia and Dr. Amber Messersmith before the awarding ceremony.
“I took this class because I knew it would be eye-opening, but I didn’t really know exactly what I’d be getting into,” Hindia said. “I had minimal volunteering experience in high school, and so I learned a lot about what goes on in the nonprofit sector. I didn’t know what it took for a family to survive in Lincoln, or the line between poverty and survival. It was informative to meet with nonprofits, and learn behind the scenes what they do on a day-to-day basis to help families. It was so much more than donating money.”

Rhonda Seacrest provides ongoing funding for the class, along with additional money provided by the Learning Through Giving Foundation. Seacrest attended the awarding ceremony on November 28, and expressed her commitment to philanthropy, believing the class gives students an experience unique to any other.

“I’m a strong believer in leading by doing,” said Seacrest. “By funding the Strive to Thrive Lincoln program it shows students this is the way to get things accomplished in the non-profit sector. We all have a duty to share when we have the ability to share.”

Hindia’s experience provided an example of Seacrest’s vision for the class. Even though her career may ultimately land in the corporate world, Hindia saw how business professionals create positive change.

“I learned what people can do in the professional world to make an impact on nonprofits. These organizations often don’t have money to hire lawyers and financial analysts. Helping them doesn’t have to be your nine-to-five job. As a business person, you can fill a need working on an advisory board, helping do their taxes or financial planning,” she said.

Andrew Norman of Rabble Mill talks with Strive to Thrive Lincoln founder Dr. Colleen Jones, professor emeritus.
Andrew Norman of Rabble Mill talks with Strive to Thrive Lincoln founder Dr. Colleen Jones, professor emeritus.
With a mission to end generational poverty, one young person at a time, by enabling kids to discover their passion and build their talent, Rabble Mill was awarded $3,000. Andrew Norman, CEO and cofounder, accepted the award and shared how he was impressed with the business students being challenged to stretch themselves in new ways through Strive to Thrive Lincoln.

“It’s so easy to go through four years of college and never step foot in a nonprofit. It’s good to take them out of their comfort zone, and I suspect there are some students who didn’t know what nonprofit work looks like. There are tons of opportunities for business minded people to work for us and with us,” Norman said.

Dr. Amber Messersmith, lecturer of management, teaches the class. She emphasized both the diligence of students to deliberate carefully in determining which nonprofits would receive funding and the importance of the service work students provided to the Center for People in Need, Community Action and the People’s City Mission.

“This class refused to take the easy way out and every decision was meticulously scrutinized,” Messersmith said. “The students recognized their responsibility and the honor of their role in the process. It was also heartening to see some members of the class went back to apply to be a service volunteer themselves based on their service project experience.”

The three organizations awarded funds this semester included:
  • Child Advocacy Center - $5,000 to help train adults in the area of child sexual abuse, noting research suggesting for every adult trained 10 children will be protected from abuse.
  • Rabble Mill - $3,000 to fund children who are on free or reduced lunch programs, paying for meals and direct services for the outreach coordinator.
  • Lead Up - $2,000 to provide high school students tutoring, college planning and leadership development, that provides a ‘360 view’ of the range of opportunities available within various industry disciplines.
For more information about Strive to Thrive Lincoln, visit:
Strive to Thrive Lincoln class photo
Strive to Thrive Lincoln class photo