Skip to main content
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Full Article

Visit Apply Give

Strive to Thrive Lincoln Student Blog – Spring 2023

Strive to Thrive Lincoln Student Blog – Spring 2023
The Leading People and Projects (MNGT 411) course gives these College of Business students the opportunity to dive into philanthropy where, thanks to generous donors, they get to award $10,000 in grants to two local nonprofits at the end of the semester.

With the spring semester in session, a new class of College of Business students prepare to take on “Strive to Thrive Lincoln”. Leading People and Projects (MNGT 411), gives students the opportunity to collaborate and work alongside local nonprofit organizations in Lincoln and truly understand the meaning of philanthropy and community involvement. From an amazing partnership with Rhonda Seacrest, her generosity allows the class to donate two $5,000 grants to two local nonprofits. This course offers a hands-on experience as students learn to serve their communities.



5/15/2023 - Farewell to Strive to Thrive!

The class evaluation team.
The 2023 Strive to Thrive class celebrated its two grant recipients at an award ceremony this spring.

Sadly, our semester has come to an end. In the past two weeks, our class chose our grant recipients, prepared for our grant ceremony and celebrated our grant recipients. We again want to congratulate Belmont Community Center and The Bridge on winning the 2023 Strive to Thrive Grant! Both organizations positively impact the Lincoln community, and we can’t thank them enough. We would also like to thank all nonprofit organizations that were in the running along the way. Regardless of the grant, you still strive every day to make the Lincoln community a better place for everyone, and we wish you the absolute best in your future.

On behalf of the Strive to Thrive Public Relations group, I just want to say thank you to everyone who had a hand in making this class possible. Whether it was big or small we all made an impact on people’s lives and have learned so much about philanthropy. We hope that every member of this class will take something with them and remember this class for the rest of their lives. We will never forget the love, goodness and friendship we created along the way.

We look forward to passing on the torch to the next Strive to Thrive class and seeing their journey through blog and social media posts. This class is truly the experience of a lifetime and will hopefully live on for many years to come.

Thank you again to Professor Messersmith, our course liaisons, our classmates and their groups, and all the nonprofits we got to be a part of! Good luck to everyone in the future of Strive to Thrive!

Author: Derek Venner



5/1/2023 - Grant Recipients Have Been Selected!

The class evaluation team.
The Class Evaluation Team oversaw our deliberations and generated statistics for each candidate. The team included (pictured left to right) Logan Harter, Jaden Lewandowski, Jayme Soderbeck, Faith Hill and Logan Miller.

We are excited to announce that our class picked our two recipients on Monday! After a whole semester of presentations, interviews, site visits and deliberations, we are so happy with the decisions that were made and cannot wait to announce our two grant winners. We called our winners from class and that experience made everything from the class worth it and come full circle. It was emotional for both parties, those who put in the work to make their organization shine, and our class who got to see the impact our grant made.

We also completed our service projects this week with various organizations around Lincoln. Some of these included visits to our contenders, which helped solidify their mission with our classmates. Our class put in a minimum of three hours each at an organization of their choosing (from a list our Service Group provided) alongside a project we helped RISE with earlier in the semester.

Our winners will be announced to the public during our grant ceremony on May 3 at 12:30 in the Henrickson Family Atrium at Howard L. Hawks Hall. We are humbled to be a part of a class that can do something for the community on this scale and could not have asked for a better experiential opportunity with philanthropy.

Author: Sadie Richards



4/17/2023 - Site Visit Presentations Have Take Place!

The Grant Ceremony task group presenting their site visits to the class.
The Grant Ceremony task group presenting their site visits to the class.

Last week, our class separated into our task groups and went on site visits to each of our 12 finalists’ organizations. Many of us were given tours and additional information to compose a final presentation for the class before deliberations start next week. This week, we saw the presentations from each group and got a better look at the remaining organizations we have chosen. Each group was given 13-15 minutes to showcase their site visits and give a breakdown of the information they learned.

This far into the process, I think everyone can agree that it will be a hard deliberations week next week. Everyone has their own favorite organizations, and each organization represents our four focus areas well. Meeting the employees and seeing the facilities made it more meaningful for our groups.

We were also lucky to have Rhonda Seacrest, the donor for Strive to Thrive Lincoln, come talk to our class about philanthropy and the contributions she has made in time and treasure. We also got to hear from Justin Swanson and Corrie Loper from the University of Nebraska Foundation and toured the College of Business to learn about the history of philanthropy in Howard L. Hawks Hall.

As we prepare to go into deliberations next week, we want to give an exciting notice about our Grant Ceremony coming up soon. The ceremony will be May 3 at 12:30 p.m. in the Henrickson Family Atrium at Howard L. Hawks Hall, where we will be awarding our recipients with their grants. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Author: Sadie Richards



4/3/2023 - Site Visits Have Begun!

The public relations task group got the chance to tour Mourning Hope's new building with Carly Woythaler-Runestad, executive director, for their first official site visit and see all they offer!
The public relations task group got the chance to tour Mourning Hope's new building with Carly Woythaler-Runestad, executive director, for their first official site visit and see all they offer!

After a tough process of narrowing down our selected nonprofits, our class reached a consensus on our top 12 voted organizations. After hearing about the final remaining organizations, our site visit task group quickly decided where each of the class’s other task groups would be making site visits. Here is the list of our top 12 selected nonprofit organizations:

  • Willard Community Center
  • BraveBe
  • Lincoln Literacy
  • HopeSpoke
  • Educare
  • Bridges to Hope
  • The Bridge
  • Belmont Community Center
  • Mourning Hope
  • Released and Restored
  • Good Life Community Development

Congratulations to those who were selected! With these organizations chosen, it was time to embark on our site visits to truly immerse ourselves in these nonprofits and see how they best represented the four focus areas of our class: early childhood education and care, immigrants and refugees, mental health and wellness, and reentry and formerly incarcerated.

Our task group was fortunate enough to be assigned two of these organizations, Mourning Hope and CEDARS. On Monday we visited Mourning Hope, a grief center for children and young adults who can gather in grief support groups with peers their own age who have experienced a similar loss. Carly Woythaler-Runestad, executive director, was kind enough to give us a tour of the facility and all its amazing amenities.

Wednesday, our task group was again fortunate enough to visit another wonderful organization, CEDARS. Their mission is to help children and youth achieve safety, stability and enduring family relationships. This was yet another beautiful organization helping those in our community.

Author: Derek Venner



3/20/2023 – Class Deliberations Have Begun!

Students voted for their top 12 nonprofit organizations in Wednesday class deliberations.
Students voted for their top 12 nonprofit organizations in Wednesday class deliberations.

After wrapping up presentations last week, our class got to start deliberations on Monday. We heard a final summary from the class representatives of each nonprofit we are considering, debated the pros and cons of each as a group, and ultimately narrowed down our list to our top 12. We will begin site visits to our finalists’ organizations soon.

Narrowing down our options was a tough task. Last week, we decided how we wanted to rank our nonprofits based on criteria we selected as a class. This included size, impact and our favorite of the four focus areas: early childhood education and care, immigrants and refugees, mental health and wellness, and reentry and formerly incarcerated. Each organization we are focusing on hits at least one of these targets. Some hit multiple of them and that is what makes it such a tough task when it comes to narrowing down.

On Monday, we saw how each nonprofit ranked alongside our favorite focus areas. Each nonprofit group was able to give a summary of their presentation and then we discussed as a class why or why not a nonprofit should move forward. We did this using a point system one of the groups created in class. They came up with points, as well as a green, yellow and red group. The green group was for the groups that got rated the highest, yellow was middle and red was for groups rated lowest. This was a low-stakes day. Monday was meant to see where each nonprofit organization stood with our class.

We began voting on Wednesday using bracket-style matchups with live voting thanks to our class evaluations team. We had about four minutes of deliberation time per round and two total rounds. By the end of the day, we had our top 12. The way our deliberation group came up with the bracket approach was good because the point system didn’t mean everything on Monday. At the end of class there were red groups that beat green groups, yellow groups that beat red groups and vice versa. It was important that we had multiple rounds of deliberation, so we knew we were making the right decision.

“It was a hard decision to make each round because every nonprofit has a unique appeal and a real purpose. There were no rounds where someone didn’t have something to say in defense of an organization. All the nonprofits under consideration should know they are leaving a lasting impact on our class,” said Sadie Richards, a senior in the course.

Author: Thomas Fidone II



3/6/2023 – Nonprofit Presentations Underway

Site Visits Team (Back row) Matt Pleiss, Nick Larson (front row) Lucia Golfis, Reagan Montross, Chloe Heller
Site Visits Team (back row, left to right) Matt Pleiss, Nick Larson (front row, left to right) Lucia Golfis, Reagan Montross, Chloe Heller. This group will be coordinating and leading the class on a group visit to the non-profits chosen to be grant finalists.

For the last two weeks, we have been researching nonprofits for our Nonprofit Organization White Paper project and presentation. The white papers serve as a background on our nonprofits, what the grant would help them achieve, and why we think the grant should go to them. We presented our findings to the class this week.

One of the unique and great parts of this class is that each person has a different view on what makes a nonprofit the best recipient for our grant. With the help of the evaluations team, we were able to narrow down a little bit of what we wanted to find out before we interviewed our nonprofits. A few indicators we decided were important were size, impact, age, and which focus area(s) were the most important to us. As a reminder, our focus areas for the semester include Early Childhood Education & Care, Mental Health & Wellness, Re-Entry & Formerly Incarcerated, and Refugees & Immigrants.

Personally, the thing I have enjoyed so far about the class is the freedom. It feels more like we are part of a foundation than a class. When we interview, we're given loose guidelines on what to ask, but ultimately, we take the reins. We schedule, create questions, and interview participants on our time. When we're done, we choose what parts of the nonprofit get highlighted to the class. I have never been part of a class where the structure is removed and you're in the real world as much as this class. It's a perfect stepstone into a business career. If you fall, you can lean on the professors and course liaisons and get back up and keep moving!

Reflecting over the last two weeks on the project over BraveBe Child Advocacy Center, Strive to Thrive Lincoln student Reagan Montross says, “I had a great experience. Connecting with BraveBe was very eye-opening. I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to learn about a program that truly changes lives.”

Author: Sadie Richards



2/20/2023 – Strive to Thrive Lincoln: Class Is Back In Session!

Public Relations team (back row, left to right) Hunter Olson, Isabelle Clemens, Derek Venner, Thomas Fidone (front row, left to right) Kate Trader, Sadie Richards, Emily Harris
Public Relations team (back row, left to right) Hunter Olson, Isabelle Clemens, Derek Venner, Thomas Fidone (front row, left to right) Kate Trader, Sadie Richards, Emily Harris.

After a long winter break, Strive to Thrive Lincoln is back in action and ready to serve. This spring, the MNGT 411 class is eager to learn about local nonprofit organizations and truly see what it takes to be involved in our community. Over the semester, we will focus our attention on four areas of nonprofits:

  1. Re-entry/Formerly Incarcerated
  2. Mental Health & Wellness
  3. Refugees and Immigrants
  4. Early Childhood Education/Care

During the first two weeks of class, Strive to Thrive Lincoln students were introduced to philanthropy and what it means. We also learned the differences between the words serving, helping and fixing. Throughout the course, we will continue to learn what it means to “serve” the community, and the resources that go into it. The class also got the chance to hear two great guest speakers from local nonprofits to kick things off.

To help us learn about the re-entry/formerly incarcerated population, the Strive to Thrive Lincoln class welcomed Chantal Wentz to learn more about the RISE program. Being formerly incarcerated herself and actually going through the program, Chantal was able to give an impactful lesson on what it takes to truly turn things around and what RISE is all about. We learned about how those in the program go through a class to learn things such as crafting resumes, gaining outside connections before release and also lining up potential interviews when released. Not only did we learn about RISE, but we also got the chance to take part in their first service project by being mentors for current RISE members incarcerated. Those who took part got the chance to help revise resumes, give tips and revisions and also words of motivation to their mentee.

Next, we looked into the area of mental health and wellness with Katie McLeese Stephenson, the executive director of HopeSpoke. In addition to learning about this nonprofit, Strive to Thrive Lincoln students learned about mental health issues faced by children and their families, and the services offered through HopeSpoke to help those be healthy and hopeful in their futures.

Additionally, students were divided into individual task groups for the semester. Task groups include the administration, class evaluation, fundraising, grant ceremony, public relations, service projects, and site visit teams.

The start of the semester has passed by fast as the class eagerly begins work on assessing and learning all the local nonprofits. Within the next following weeks, we will pair up and research nonprofits in the community, and then present our findings.

The class is looking forward to being a part of another exciting Strive to Thrive Lincoln project. We look forward to learning what it truly takes to lead people and projects while serving the community.

Follow along with the students of MNGT 411 and the public relations team as we share bi-weekly blogs with updates, photos and class activities throughout the semester.

Author: Hunter Olson

Published: May 15, 2023