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Strive to Thrive Student Blog - Fall 2018

Strive to Thrive Student Blog - Fall 2018
The senior-level class, Leading People and Projects (Management 411), provides a semester-long project for business students called Strive to Thrive Lincoln, helping them gain knowledge of philanthropy in the Lincoln community. Students receive hands-on experience focusing on what it takes to manage a grant proposal process which ultimately awards $10,000 to local non-profits made possible through a gift by Rhonda Seacrest and the Learning By Giving Foundation. Students also volunteer their service on outreach projects. As part of the class team structure, the social media team is updating the Strive to Thrive Lincoln student blog. Students will compose regular updates outlining their experiences from week-to-week as they go through the grant proposal process.

Members of the social media team include Tristen Metcalf, a management and marketing major from Lincoln, Nebraska; Mayte Corral, a business administration major from Los Gatos, California; Logan Larson, a finance major from Omaha, Nebraska; Jazzi Valdez, a management major from Grand Island, Nebraska; Caroline Buelt, a finance major from Ankeny, Iowa; and Ross Bartels, a marketing major from Bennet, Nebraska. Dr. Amber Messersmith helps guide students through a vast amount of material to better inform them on non-profit operation and leadership tactics.

11-9-18 - Site Visits Accomplished

The Strive to Thrive class had an eventful last week of October doing site visits to 16 different non-profits in Lincoln. Our class was divided up into 8 groups that each visited two different organizations over our normal class meeting time. The site visits were each different in the way they were run. Often times, the site visit was ran by the organizations, but other times our Strive to Thrive group leaders took the lead.
Dr. Messersmith prepared us for our site visits by providing us materials on how to conduct a visit. For example, articles as well as videos giving us suggestions and questions to ask a nonprofit. These materials helped us become more professional in our meetings as well as confidence to run a visit.
Following our site visits, each group will create a powerpoint presentation over what they learned from each nonprofit. We will present everything we learned on our site visit to understand the nonprofits on a deeper level. This will help during our final decision making process to find our grant winner(s).
Check back to learn how our site visit presentations impacted our class decision!

10-29-18 - Site Visit Prep

Strive to Thrive students identified and compared values.
Strive to Thrive students identified and compared values.
This week was all about planning for our class. Now that we have narrowed down our candidate list to 16, we have site visits! The class has been divided into eight groups and each group will be visiting two nonprofits next week; one on Monday and the second one on Tuesday.
On Monday, we got the chance to meet our groups and find out the nonprofit organizations each group will be visiting. The rest of our time was spent preparing ourselves for these site visits. For many of us, this will be our first site visit so we got a crash course over what to expect during these site visits and how to be prepared for them.
Wednesday was all about values and leadership. We spent the class time talking about what values are important to us and what values we hope to see in leaders. We got a list of values which we had to narrow down to our 16 most important values. From there we kept narrowing down even further until we got to our top four values. After much discussion within our groups we realized that we had some in common, but most were very different from each other. We had so much fun getting to know more about each group member and learning about ourselves as leaders.

10-24-18 - Upcoming Site Visits

This past week, our class was able to come back from fall break and finish our discussions on each of the applications of the nonprofits.  We talked about each of the organization’s positive impact on our Lincoln community.  We used our class time to discuss how all the projects would help the organizations and society all together.  It was a very difficult week for the class to decide how each nonprofit fits in our class’s mission statement.

Unfortunately with the short week, we did not have a significant amount of work to do for the class other than discussing the organizations.  We are looking forward for the upcoming weeks!  Site visits will be very fun and informative.  The class will all be in uniform and be ready to see the different aspects that each nonprofit will bring to the table.  This is going to be the most important part of the semester for the class.

10-16-18 - Reviewing Applications
Students work through the process of reviewing the grant applications.
Students work through the process of reviewing the grant applications.
This past Wednesday, our class met for the first round of deliberations for the Strive to Thrive applications. We were thrilled to have received a total of 32 applications this semester! Our class evaluation group did an excellent job assembling the evaluation process by using surveys for each application and then reviewing our ratings for each organization. 
The evaluation group led the class discussion about our overall thoughts and opinions about some of the organizations. We had the opportunity to either nominate a non-profit to the site visit round, or to eliminate the non-profit from the process. The decision is made by taking a class vote on whether the organization is eliminated. If the class is undecided we will discuss it further once we have gone through the remaining applications. 
Our class took every opinion, thought, and statement made by our peers seriously because every student knows the importance of this grant and the lives it can make a direct impact on. We were not able to make a final decision of who made it to the site-visit round and we will continue our class discussion this coming Wednesday, where we will finalize the 16 organizations who made it through the first round of applications. Thank you to each non-profits that took the time to thoroughly complete the application and for allowing us the opportunity to learn the amazing things you are doing to serve our community.

10-11-18 - Service Work and Meeting Dr. Colleen Jones, the Founder of Strive to Thrive

Community Action was just one of the non-profit organizations students visited during the week.
Community Action was just one of the non-profit organizations students visited during the week.
Strive to Thrive had a busy and eventful week. To begin the week, we reflected on our service projects that took place at the People’s City Mission, Community Action Partnership and the Center for People in Need.  The People’s City Mission assists more than one million men, women and children suffering from homelessness poverty and other life crises. The Community Action Partnership empowers people living in poverty to reach economic stability by providing care. Finally, the Center for People in Need is an organization with a single-minded purpose: defeat poverty.
These organizations support such great causes and directly influence the community of Lincoln. Furthermore, all three organizations left lasting impacts on students and some so immense that many have signed up to become volunteers for the remainder of the semester. 
Strive to Thrive’s grant application deadline was also this week on October 5.  Our evaluation group worked very hard to look over all the applications that were submitted and created surveys that asked questions related to demographic goals, mission statement, project proposals, vision of the grant, application aptitude and whether the organization is serving interests important to each student. We are looking forward to feedback that can assist our class discussion to narrow our final applicants. 
Dr. Colleen Jones shares her experiences with MNGT 411 students.
Dr. Colleen Jones shares her experiences with MNGT 411 students.
To finish up the week, our social media team had the pleasure of interviewing the prestigious Dr. Colleen Jones, professor emeritus of the College of Business. We began the interview with some simple questions about her background in education and finished with what inspired her to create the MNGT 411 course. Jones completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa, her graduate degree at the University of Southern California and finally her doctorate at George Washington University. Interestingly enough, she began as an accounting major and later selected finance and management with a second concentration in public administration. When she arrived at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln she wanted to focus on nonprofit because management is more than just corporate. She sat on many boards and was part of the nonprofit community herself with her own foundation. The impetus that led to her launching this 411 course was the fact that nonprofits are vast economic engines, they contribute to the community and they are an equalizer force, which means most corporations have an initiative for keeping their communities healthy and therefore the citizens get the help they need. The course was meant to instill leadership and project management skills and for the most part, (with the addition of a few committees) runs the same way today as it was originally designed.  

10-2-18 - Application Deadline Approaching

One service project took students to help organize merchandise at the People City Mission Help Center.
One service project took students to help organize merchandise at the People City Mission Help Center.
These past weeks have been a blur to us Strive to Thrive students!  With visits to non-profits and service projects, we have been able to see how they work inside and out. We are also in the thick of application review!  Check out the application to apply for the grant! The deadline for the application is October 5, and until then, Strive to Thrive and our project groups have been hard at work to make this process as seamless as possible.
When our class meets, a few groups have taken hold of this section of the grant process. Application communications have helped continue the legacy of previous classes by keeping this application relevant and focused on our class mission statement. During these weeks, we have also reached out to many nonprofits in Lincoln to help serve our community and increase our knowledge of those nonprofits and how their on-the-ground operations impact people in need. This step in our class journey was aided by the Service Project Coordination group, making sure students were ready to go and help give back, as well as keeping the culture of the nonprofits at hand alive and well.
As a class, we created group contracts to hold each member accountable for the rest of the semester. Each group outlined the future processes that they will go through in the coming weeks and months. In the contracts, students outlined the importance of participation and preparedness for each week of the semester.  Creating contracts is a large step for Strive to Thrive to be on the same page for selecting the organization that best resembles our mission statement.

Check in next week when we go over a bit of history about the class and where we are with evaluations!
Published: November 12, 2018