The senior-level class, Leading People and Projects (MGMT 411), provides a semester-long project for business students called Strive to Thrive Lincoln. The class helps students 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.
The fall Strive to Thrive weekly content on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and this student blog will be run by the social media team of the class. Our team includes six members; Caitlyn Black a senior business administration major from Frisco, Texas; Megan DeVries a junior business administration major from Aurora, Nebraska; Brenly Redlin a senior business management major from Colby, Kansas; Mike Todd a sophomore business administration major from Omaha, Nebraska; Eric Horn a senior marketing major from Weeping Water, Nebraska; and Zach Rotert a senior business management major from Omaha, Nebraska.
12/7/19 - Deliberations
I think that being able to individually visit each of the nonprofits that applied for our Strive To Thrive grant was a great opportunity for us to get a better idea of what each organization looks like and does on a normal given day. Being able to speak with the leaders of each organization allowed us to get a more thoughtful and personalized experience rather than simply reading their application responses online. Although we didn’t have the time for each student to visit each and every nonprofit, we were able to divide the class into teams and visit every applicant within a two-day window. Followed by the site visits, each group has had the opportunity to share presentations on their two site visits. This supplies the class with pictures and information that allows us to feel as if we were right there with them during the site visit.
Our next step as a class was the completion of deliberations. Through this process, each and every student is allowed the opportunity to voice any and all comments about the remaining 16 nonprofits. This allows us to carefully take into consideration every detail of each organization (application, site visit experiences, etc.). As a class, we were able to eventually narrow it down to the final four applicants while staying on track with our structured schedule. With the awards ceremony coming quickly, every second of class time was needed in order to make educated and well-thought decisions on who will receive the Strive to Thrive grant. Overall, I believe we had a great set of applicants and picking this semester’s winner(s) made for a tough week of deliberations.
Allowing students the ability to take a course like this is an incredible privilege and the information learned about the nonprofit sector is enough to make any student consider taking work with an organization that gives back to the community.
11/12/19 - Site Visits
On Monday and Wednesday of last week, the class got the opportunity to take part in site visits. The class was split into groups of roughly six students and each group was assigned two grant finalists to go to for a site visit, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. During these site visits we were able to go meet with the nonprofits, learn more about their mission and what they do, tour their facilities and ask questions. We will take the information we learned during these site visits and use them in our presentations to the class next week.
The site visits were a great experience! There is only so much you can take away from an application where the nonprofits just write answers to questions, but it is a whole different experience being able to see the programs they talked about in their applications in action and seeing the impact they have on the families and kids they serve. These site visits are very beneficial when it comes to the grant process. They allow members of the class to get a better feel for what each organization does by allowing us to see first-hand their day-to-day operations and what kind of an impact they make on the Lincoln community. It is important that we learn as much as we can about the organizations while we are there so we can give a great presentation to the class and give the nonprofits we toured the best opportunity to receive the grant. Since we all can’t tour every nonprofit finalist, the presentations are a way to allow those students who didn’t get the opportunity to tour that specific nonprofit an idea of what their day-to-day operations are like and how well they match with our mission statement.
10/23/19 - Site Time Visit
Strive to Thrive class is back from fall break and is more ready than ever to get back to work! Before fall break as a class, we went through all thirty-one applications and ranked them on how well they matched our mission statement. The elimination was a tough process because each organization is doing great things for the community. However, we deliberated as a class and found sixteen organizations we want to know more about by going on site visits. Therefore we get to dive deeper by going on site visits to each nonprofit. The class is excited to learn and be involved with each organization.
To prepare for site visits, we have been involved with service projects, learned from guest speakers and also have been able to conduct interviews of nonprofits. One of the most educational aspects of the past weeks was conducting interviews. The class split into pairs and each group interviewed an organization. Through this, we had to do research and come up with questions that would help us learn the behind the scenes processes of nonprofits. This assignment will help us each be able to know what questions to ask and what to look for as we go on the site visits. We are incredibly excited to be out in the community, so be on the lookout for the Strive to Thrive class!
10/18/19 - Service Project
SERVICE DAY!!! Strive to Thrive had the pleasure to canvas neighborhoods west of 27th and Vine Street for the Safe Quarters Campaign. Safe Quarters campaign through the Friendship home in Lincoln, raises money for domestic violence victims and their families. The Strive to Thrive Lincoln students had the pleasure to canvas neighborhoods west of 27th and Vine Street. We split into groups of two to cover the area, which allowed us to each have the opportunity to talk about the campaign. It was a humbling and learning experience to be the hands and feet of asking for donations. Another fantastic aspect of going door to door was meeting the people in Lincoln's community and seeing people give what they could to the Safe Quarters campaign. As a class, we love diving in and getting involved in causes that connect people to resources like Safe Quarters. We love being able to be part of amazing campaigns like this one!
10/13/19 - Guest Speaker Kyle Cartwright
Our class had the pleasure of listening to Kyle Cartwright on October 2. Mr. Cartwright currently serves as the Executive Director for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. He helps the organization reach its fundraising goals while working closely with Nebraska’s elected officials.
To prepare for his visit, students watched videos about the overhead costs in a nonprofit. We learned that overhead costs are an important aspect of nonprofits, and their significance shouldn’t be diminished. Kyle provided our class with greater insight on this topic. He walked us through the Form 990 of two nonprofits within the Lincoln community, and we were able to analyze their actual statistics from previous years. The two companies we examined were of different sizes. We learned which lines of the form to pay special attention to so we could get a more accurate depiction of how each nonprofit manages its finances. However, we learned it’s also essential to look beyond the numbers. We need to consider the impact a nonprofit has within the community, and not base decisions strictly off the Form 990 as it only provides part of the picture.
Kyle Cartwright also taught our class how to become effective philanthropists. As students, we have many assets to bring to the table, including our skills, perspective, and connections. He encouraged us to serve on a nonprofit’s board of directors. Our class learned the importance of getting involved within the community and building trust with nonprofits. Thanks again for speaking to our class, Mr. Cartwright! We really appreciated your beneficial insight.
10/8/19 - Feedback from Previous Grant Winners
On Monday, September 30, we had two of our previous Strive to Thrive Lincoln winners come and talk to our class. The previous winners were from the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance, a program aimed at helping women who are victims of domestic assault/immigrants and Food Fort, a bus/meal service that provides meals primarily for needy children.
Both of the previous winners gave us a lot of insight to how they run their nonprofits, what to look for in a nonprofit, and how to go about selecting our winner. The first thing they talked about was the impact that this grant has. When they talked about selecting our winner, they advised us to really get to know the organizations, take visits and ask questions. In addition, they talked about the importance of the difference between a “band-aid” fix and something that has a lasting impact.
After listening to the previous winners, we want to ensure that the organization that we choose aligns with our mission statement and has a lasting impact on the Lincoln community! We will do this by making site visits and asking tough questions to our potential Strive to Thrive winners. We are excited to go through the applications!
10/3/19 - Our Mission
Our Strive to Thrive class has been diligently working on making this one of the best semesters yet! We can’t wait to share with you what we’ve been up to and unveil our mission statement for the semester. The mission statement serves as a focus in guiding which nonprofits are eligible to apply for the grant.
Bryan Seck and Lori Seibel provided our class valuable insight about nonprofits and the Lincoln community. The knowledge they each shared with us helped direct the focus of our funding priorities. As a result, the process of crafting the mission statement went smoother than anticipated. To get things started, all of us students posted our individual inputs in where we’d like our funding priorities to be in an online discussion board. Then in class, we worked together to develop a master list that encompassed the general, reoccurring themes and ideas. Our class respectfully discussed why we were passionate about what we were and we continued to narrow down the list. Once we were all confident in our ideas, we began tweaking and revising the statement until everyone was satisfied. Our class is ecstatic about this mission statement and we can’t wait to help play a role in positively impacting the grant recipient(s).
Ta-da! Here is the anticipated Fall 2019 Mission Statement: “Strive to Thrive Lincoln allows Nebraska Business students in the Management 411 class to grant funds to organizations that bring long-term stability and wellness to children and families in need through enrichment and educational opportunities within Lincoln/Lancaster County.” Feel free to share this with any nonprofit in the Lincoln/Lancaster Country area you believe fits our mission statement. Our class is looking forward to learning more about the surrounding nonprofits and digging into the application process.
10/1/19 - Starting the Semester
Strive to Thrive Lincoln is back in business! This Fall, MNGT 411 class, is excited to learn about nonprofit organizations and how to get involved in our community. The social media team will shine a light on behind the scenes details on what goes into this class and what makes it such a fun opportunity for the students and community. So, let's get started!
To start our semester, we had two guest speakers Lori Seibel, and Bryan Seck further educate us on what goes into helping the community thrive. Bryan Seck, the director of workforce development in Lancaster County, opened our eyes up to the reality of the homeless population and the immigrant population and connecting them to resources. The biggest takeaway from Bryan's lecture as it is essential to connect people to the resources that will help lead them to success. Our class was shocked by real-life stories of homeless families that Bryan shared with us; it opened our eyes to what is happening around us and how we can help. As a class, we want to help people in our community become more aware of the reality that many people face in Lincoln.
The second guest speaker Lori Seibel, the president at Community Health Endowment of Lincoln, introduced to the class what redlining was and the effects that it has in Lincoln today. She also showed our class what mapping the community looks like and the correlations it has with many other significant problems, such as health problems. The big takeaways from her lecture were the areas in Lincoln that were considered poverty-stricken correlate with other issues such as obesity and other health problems. As a class seeing the connections of these problems was very educational. She also talked about the programs in place to counteract and solve obesity and other health problems.
The management 411 class loves to learn from people in the community to connect what we are reading in the textbooks to real-life experiences. Having the guest speakers like Bryan Seck and Lori Seibel is genuinely a treat for us as we become aware of problems the community face, which makes us ultimately more connected. We are excited to keep learning more as the semester continues!