University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business students take on philanthropy firsthand in the Leading People and Projects (MNGT 411) course, commonly referred to as “Strive to Thrive Lincoln.” Students in the course spend the semester learning more about nonprofits and philanthropy while simultaneously working together to allocate two $5,000 grants for two local nonprofits – made possible due to the generous donations of Rhonda Seacrest and the Learning by Giving Foundation. The course not only provides a chance for students to serve their community, but also learn more about business and gain real-world experience in a unique learning opportunity.
10/25/2021 - Strive to Thrive: Taking the Next Steps
“Fast” is a good word to describe the speed of how this class has progressed over the past few weeks. From the nonprofit interviews, papers and individual group assignments, the students of Management 411 have been staying busy. As previously talked about in a previous post, students have begun reviewing all 24 of the potential nonprofit grant recipients last week. This was the main task for the students, and with fall break occurring last Monday and Tuesday, we were given off class Wednesday to ensure it would be completed in time.
How the Process of Selecting a Nonprofit Works:
Just to ensure you have all followed the process correctly thus far, let's go step-by-step to see how we got to where we are! Students started out the selection of a nonprofit by forming into groups of two to three individuals, with each group selecting their own nonprofit organization. Following that, students began to reach out to the selected organization to seek permission for rewarding them with our $5,000 grant. Following approval from the nonprofit, students then reached out and interviewed them in order to find out more information and to see if the fit aligned with our class mission. Last week, students submitted their final draft which leads us to where we are now: the evaluation of the selected nonprofits.
In case you are wondering “What’s Next?”, we have that covered as well. Following each individual’s evaluation of the nonprofit, the students will be having the first round of deliberations in class. After the first round, site visits of the finalists will get set in stone, which will be followed by presentations. After presentations, the students will have another day of deliberations before making final calls to the grant recipients and preparing for the Grant Ceremony, which will take place just over a month from now, on December 1st.
Perspective from student Nick Lamb:
Nick Lamb, a senior from Omaha, Nebraska, has really enjoyed his time thus far in Management 411. Before he was enrolled in this class Nick was not familiar with nonprofit organizations, but now he feels as if he has learned a lot about what nonprofits do and the importance of them.
“I think these nonprofits truly care about the community and are helping in a great way,” he said.
When asked about the process used for selecting nonprofit organizations, Nick responded supportively, saying, “I believe that the process we use to choose organizations is very diligent.” He further went on to say he enjoyed the opportunity to have a close look at organizations from multiple views. Nick Lamb is one of the many students who are excited for the next few weeks!
10/18/2021 - Strive to Thrive: Interviewing a Nonprofit Leader and Finalizing our Nonprofit White Paper
Fall break approaching made for a busy week for the MNGT 411 students. Although we never attended class in person due to COVID complications, there was still a lot of work to be done. Our main focus this week was to host an interview with one of our nonprofit organizations’ representatives. With this information, we worked on finalizing our NPO white papers and submitting them to be evaluated by the class.
Interviewing a Nonprofit Leader
Beginning last week, the student partnerships were asked to host a meeting with a representative from the nonprofit they had selected to research. Interviewing a leader from the nonprofit gave the students a chance to ask questions they had about the organization and also get some firsthand insight into the organization.
“I really appreciate learning about our chosen organization and all the great programs and resources that they offer to our community. It has been eye-opening to see all of the different resources offered to our community that we as privileged individuals aren’t even aware of. I am learning so much this semester about where our community needs our support as well as diversifying our knowledge on the nonprofit world and cannot wait to hear what my peers have discovered,” said Matea Spyhalski, a senior from Maple Grove, Minnesota.
Finalizing our Nonprofit White Paper
After completing the interview with the chosen nonprofit, the students turned their focus on finishing the nonprofit white paper. They then compiled all of their research as well as the knowledge and expertise from their organization's representative into a research paper that highlights the functions of the organization as well as what they offer to the community. The purpose of writing these papers is to provide thorough research to our peers so that we as a class can make the most well-informed decision on where we want our grants to go. These papers are then sent to the applicant communication committee where they are made public to everyone in the class to review and evaluate.
The Evaluation Process Begins
Now that the white papers have been submitted, our class will work on the evaluation process. During this process, we will read all of the information our peers have complied and then form opinions on whether we think they would be a good fit to give our grants to. The evaluation process is a long and difficult time as we each have to read 24 papers and submit evaluation forms on each nonprofit. We appreciate your continued support of our journey throughout the semester and look forward to seeing you back here next week!
10/11/2021 - Strive to Thrive: Learning How to Be Successful and Researching NonProfits Welcome back to the journey of MNGT 411: Leading People and Projects!
Continuing on our Strive to Thrive journey, we spent last week hearing from the two grant recipients of the spring class, Visionary Youth and South of Downtown Development Organization. In addition to learning from the past winners, each partnership researched their chosen nonprofit organizations to write their white paper on.
Advice from Visionary Youth
In class on Monday, October 4th, we heard from Visionary Youth. KB Mensah, founder, and Kris Whisenhunt, vice president, were able to sit down with our class to give us advice on how to move smoothly through our decision process and shared how they used their grant.
With the $5,000 grant they received, they started to remodel and began to get their Community Hub ready to be used by the community they serve. In class, they showed us pictures of the space so far, and it looks great!
To learn more about Visionary Youth, visit their website: https://visionaryouth.org/.
Encouragement from South of Downtown Community Development Organization (SDCDO)
In class on Wednesday, October 6th, we were fortunate to learn from the South of Downtown Community Development Organization about their impact on the City of Lincoln and how they used their $5,000 grant.
Shawn Ryba, executive director, Allie Christianson, community organizer and Kat Wiese, community arts director, shared some advice and encouragement on how to best go about site visits, having enough research about the organization and communicating with the different nonprofits to make this process smoother. Ryba said, “I felt like the students knew more about our website than I did,” referring to how well researched the students were.
South of Downtown Community Development Organization used their grant to continue painting murals in their district and getting ready to bring back their neighborhood farmer’s market next summer. After personally talking to their neighbors, these were two great things that they wanted to see!
To learn more about SDCDO, visit their website: https://lincolnsouthdowntown.org/.
Research, Research, Research
After working hard to develop a strong mission statement and working with partners to find a nonprofit organization that fits our mission, an exciting research period commenced. Partners have been working hard to find out as much information as possible about the organization on which they are writing their white paper. Students have utilized nonprofit reports, websites, social media platforms and more to find as much information as possible regarding their chosen organization.
All partners submitted their rough drafts to the applicant committee and will continue their research by interviewing a committee or staff member of their organization throughout the following week.
Thanks for all the support and tuning in this week; we hope to see you back next week!
9/27/21 – Strive to Thrive: Defining our Mission Statement, Serving in the Community and Researching Nonprofits
Our Mission Statement
At last! The students of MNGT 411 have crafted a mission statement. It became evident that students of our class hail from all different cultures, experiences and environments. We began the long trek of crafting a mission statement last week under the direction of Dr. Amber Messersmith, lecturer of management. Each student had the opportunity to express their own opinions and interests as we met in our designated committees. After collaborating with our committee for almost an entire class period, we finalized our mission statement to be:
"Strive to Thrive Lincoln provides Nebraska Business students in the Management 411 class with the opportunity to grant funds to organizations that uplift underreached youth and their families living below the poverty line through sustainable educational programs and community-building resources, in order to equip them with skillsets for long-term success and holistic well-being."
As a cohesive unit, we utilized the information we received through our guest speakers this semester, our passions and our collective understanding of philanthropy to come to this finished mission statement. As we continue serving in the community and classroom, we hope to understand our mission further and see that it is shared with the chosen nonprofits.
Serving Our Roots
Not only were students busy in the classroom but also out in the community! This week there were two service groups in the Lincoln community. One group of students spent their time assisting the Morrill Hall museum in organizing educational kits for virtual field trips. Another group of students volunteered with The Children's Museum to assemble "Spooky Houses" for Halloween. These experiences provided a more in-depth outlook on how meaningful service touches the hearts and lives of our community.
During class on Wednesday, our efforts in partnering with a nonprofit advanced as students partnered up to research and select a Lincoln nonprofit that fits our mission statement. Groups pitched their nonprofit of interest to the class while students analyzed if the nonprofit coincided with our mission statement. Once each partnership had selected a nonprofit, they were encouraged to begin drafting their nonprofit white paper so that our applicant communication committee could delegate reviewing the chosen nonprofits.
This week brought an air of business and excitement within the students' hearts as we eagerly commence our pursuit of helping out the community.
Keep posted for more updates; we'll see you next week!
9/27/21 – Strive to Thrive: Starting Service Volunteering Off Right
This week was eventful for the students of MNGT 411: Leading People and Projects. We ended last week with guest speaker Barbara Bartle, president of the Lincoln Community Foundation, and started this week with another guest speaker Lori Seibel, president of Community Health Endowment (CHE). We also started the service projects that were mentioned last week, and to wrap this week up the class as a whole also started our mission statement.
Wednesday, September 15th, our class had guest speaker Barbara Bartle who provided an in-depth understanding of the nonprofit community in Lincoln. Barbara has been with the Lincoln Foundation since 2010 and served as President in recent years. However, she has announced her retirement at the end of this year. Even with the short time she spent with us, we were able to witness her passion and leadership. We wish her the best in retirement!
Monday, September 20th, we had our first in-person guest speaker, Lori Seibel. Lori is the president of Community Health Endowment (CHE) of Lincoln, and she gave an inspiring lecture on the most pressing needs in the Lincoln community. Needs that nonprofits and people alike must focus on. CHE has developed maps of Lincoln that show the percentages of people living in poverty, childhood fitness, healthy food access and much more. From the late 1900’s to the current year, you can see the numbers rapidly increasing, and the trend will continue. If we do not do something now, there will be significant negative impacts we can only imagine in the future.
Last week, we completed our first service project. Tuesday, September 14th, a group from class worked alongside City Impact to help kids in need set their foot on the right track. This week on Tuesday, September 21st, two students, Jordan Kelber and Jayna Ghose, volunteered at Educare of Lincoln. They provided food and bottles of water to kids and families in need.
To finish off the week, we began the process of crafting our mission statement. This mission statement will guide our selection of two non-profits to receive a $5,000 grant at the end of the semester. We will finish the process next week, so check back next week!
Thank you for following along! Lookout for next week’s blog post from the Publicity Group.
9/20/21 – Strive to Thrive: Engaging in our Community Through Service Projects
We, the students of MNGT 411: Leading People and Projects, are back another week. This week, we are introducing the community engagement group. As a group, they have organized 10 service projects through different nonprofits for us to get involved in throughout the semester. Below we have highlighted two of these organizations:
Friendship Home is an organization that supports, shelters, and advocates for victims of domestic violence and their children. They offer crisis services, emergency housing and transitional housing for the victims. Friendship Home has been aiding the lives of these survivors for more than 40 years now. Our class is honored to be working with an organization such as Friendship home.
Clinic With a Heart (CWH) is a faith-inspired organization, that serves people who are uninsured and underinsured through a ministry of healthcare. The organization has been helping people with their healthcare since 2003. Their volunteers provide free healthcare with hospitality, dignity and grace. Our volunteers will be interviewing patients to share on CWH brochures, testimonials and website.
If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about these organizations, you can contact them through their websites or reach out to the Strive to Thrive Lincoln class. According to Merriam-Webster, a philanthropist is simply “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.” We can all be philanthropists in our own way, and we encourage you to participate.
Connect with us via social media if you would like to follow our class’s philanthropic journey:
To learn more about the two nonprofits featured in this blog, please visit their websites below.
Friendship Home: https://friendshiphome.org/
Clinic With a Heart: https://www.clinicwithaheart.org/
9/13/21 – Strive to Thrive: 49 Huskers Ready to Become Philanthropists
Hello, Nebraska Business world!
We are the students of MNGT 411: Leading People and Projects. This course focuses on empowering us to become philanthropists, educating us on how to lead teams and manage projects and engaging us in how to be involved in community organizations and initiatives.
In the first week, we read a Times article written by Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, that stated, “while many of our efforts are good and righteous, the supply of charitable giving cannot possibly keep pace with the demand for it.”
Philanthropy and charitable-giving are powerful tools, yet our world’s system is what causes them to be required. How would the world look if we all became philanthropists, worked to meet the needs of those less privileged, and focused on creating systematic change that leads to sustainable solutions? That’s what we’re about to learn, and we hope you’ll learn something too.
Ethan Carlson, senior management major from Norfolk, Nebraska, says a takeaway for him so far was when guest speaker Dr. Jim Croft, ’04, a principal consultant at JW Croft Consulting Group, asserted that NPO’s (nonprofit organizations) exist for society, and in a way, are owned by society. Croft visited class on 9/8 via Zoom to provide an overview of NPO’s.
“That’s a new way of viewing nonprofits to me. When viewed as owned by society, it puts a new level of responsibility and accountability on nonprofits I had not realized,” said Carlson.
Throughout this year, we will visit NPO’s in-person to learn about their mission and services, conduct community service projects with a variety of NPO’s across Lincoln, execute a fundraising drive for a Lincoln NPO, and finally distribute $10,000 in funds to two Lincoln NPO’s.
Follow along as we, the Publicity Group, post updates each week on the class’s journey to become philanthropists. See you next week!