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.
12/08/21 – Strive to Thrive: Grand Finale and Final Reflections
Last week, MNGT 411 saw our work come to fruition. On Monday, the Community Engagement task group took over class to lead us in a meaningful reflection about the service projects we completed across the semester. We discussed the purpose and impact our time had on these organizations, even if we did not see it ourselves. We learned that one hour of community service was equivalent to $28.54, so the collective value of 147 hours (three hours per student in the class) of service was $4,195.38. Simply through volunteering our time, we made a huge difference.
On Wednesday, the Grant Ceremony took place in the Howard L. Hawks Hall Henrickson Family Atrium. We had the opportunity to network with nonprofit and community leaders and to share with everyone in attendance the process that took us from 24 nonprofits to our final two winners. We are ecstatic to award CEDARS Youth Services and City Impact each with a $5,000 grant.
City Impact was chosen for the authentic impact they have on youth in the community through intentional mentoring and developmental programming. Our class believed in the long-lasting impact of their programs.
CEDARS Youth Services was selected as a leader in providing support to youth and their families in difficult circumstances. We saw the staff’s passion for the organization’s mission at every step of the process.
As this semester comes to a close, everyone in MNGT 411 realizes that this course is no ordinary course. Strive to Thrive Lincoln is an entirely experiential learning opportunity. Students in MNGT 411 do not have to worry about watching lectures, taking notes and completing exams. Instead, they are challenged to be self-reflective, servant leaders and engaged citizens. We learned about the Lincoln community, recognizing its most pressing needs, and after seeing those needs, we went and created change through volunteering our time and effectively carrying out the grant distribution process. MNGT 411 helped our entire class see all the ways in which we, as even students, can be difference makers.
Here are quotes from students and their takeaways from this semester:
Paxton Brittingham, Clifton Builders management and entrepreneurship major from Lawrence, Kansas: “I have loved getting to dive deeper into the Lincoln community and get a better understanding of the issues facing the people of Lincoln. It has been so special getting to learn about organizations that work to serve the Lincoln community and to hear their personal stories of how that nonprofit has impacted their life. I will never forget this experience and I encourage everyone to take it if they can!”
Tige Calleroz, management major from Arcadia, Nebraska: “One takeaway I have from MNGT 411 is that service is one of the most rewarding acts one can do. Just a couple hours can help more than you know. Through this experience, I feel that I have become more humble and thankful for the life that I’ve been blessed with. If you take MNGT 411, it will help you grow and create connections in our community. It also gives you the opportunity to change people’s lives.”
Tori Pedersen, agriculture leadership major from Omaha, Nebraska: “MNGT 411 helped me to recognize how impactful it can be when you put a high level of intention behind choosing where to donate your time or money. The idea of giving to charity always feels good, but when you really take the time to explore organizations and causes that align with your own values and interests, it can be such a transformational experience.”
Erika Casarin, management major from Lincoln, Nebraska: “I believe people should take MNGT 411 because it takes you outside yourself - you’re able to be a witness to the needs of our community and how you can make an impact alongside your peers.”
We are all grateful for the experience offered to us through MNGT 411 and encourage every student in the Nebraska College of Business to enroll in the course.
11/22/21 – Strive to Thrive: Approaching the End
As we have completed our site visits and site visit presentations, we are on our way to the end of our grant-distribution process.
Last Monday was our final presentation day, and the Publicity group had the opportunity to present our experience with the Malone Center and Nebraska Center for Families Learning. The purpose of site visits is to provide another glimpse into the nonprofit’s operations and results that could not otherwise be captured in online research. After listening to the presentations, the class had a better grasp of all the nonprofits as we entered the final round of deliberation to decide our two grant winners.
However, before our final deliberations, the class had a special opportunity to understand the financial health of our finalists through an analysis completed by the students in Nonprofit Financial Management (FINA 871). We greatly appreciate these analyses which provided us with an objective view our the nonprofits. Thank you FINA 871! Soffi Olson, junior management and business and law major from Lincoln, shared her perspective on the analyses.
“I view the financial analyses as just another part of the process. We don’t want to discredit what we learned in site visits simply from what the financials say, but I learned a lot from them,” she said.
With these two perspectives in hand, the class was ready to enter deliberations on November 17.
To begin our first day of final deliberations, every member of the class voted on their top six nonprofits. This vote decided rankings for each of the finalists and allowed the Class Evaluation Group to create a bracket. Lower-seeded nonprofits faced higher-seeded nonprofits, with the hope of not eliminating one of the top nonprofits (objectively and subjectively). The first round of the bracket was decided by a majority vote. With efficient time-keeping, the class finalized our top six nonprofits, and with a little class time left, we were able to eliminate one of our top six.
On Monday, November 22, we will finish our final deliberations and have our two nonprofit grant-winners decided. We can’t wait to share this news with you, as it is truly a culmination of a semester’s worth of work. Stay tuned!
Fundraising update! As of today, we have hit our $1,500 fundraising goal! A huge thank you to everyone that donated and supported our fundraising drive. All the money will stay local and impact individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. MNGT 411 was proud to partner with Arc of Lincoln on this initiative.
11/15/21 – Strive to Thrive: Hitting the Ground Running
These past few weeks have been incredibly busy weeks for the students of Management 411: Leading People and Projects. Students have been working on their own group service projects, our class fundraiser began, engaged in site visits, and began to present on those visits. A lot of students in the class felt a similar perspective to Dr. Messersmith when she opened class last Wednesday by saying, “Can you believe that we are already midway through November?”. This semester has brought many challenges to our class, but we have taken on each opportunity and attacked it with our best efforts.
On Monday, November 8th, a two-week fundraiser opened, which will go towards The Arc of Lincoln and will close on November 22nd. The Art of Lincoln is a local nonprofit organization within the Lincoln community. The purpose of this fundraiser is to raise awareness and profits to benefit those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities while supporting human rights. The core values of this organization include human dignity, personhood, choice, rights, community, support, equity and diversity. Our class has a fundraising goal of $1500, and as of Thursday morning, we are at $502, about a third of the way there. Their vision for the future is “We live in a caring, inclusive community where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are embraced and offered encouragement, support, security, and opportunity.”
For those looking to donate, you may do so through their website: https://www.advocacypartnership.org/arcdonate, or through our fundraising site, at: www.go.unl.edu/ArcDonation, or through an alternative site: https://givebutter.com/jh9j3K/michellejohnson2.
Site Visits and Presentations
Dating back to Wednesday, November 3rd, students participated in their first site visit. There were a total of twelve site visits we, as a class, participated in. There were six groups, containing between six and eight members per group, visiting these sites. Each of the six groups attended different site visits on November 3rd, as well as on Monday, November 8th. In case you were curious how we ended up with 12 sites, I will walk you through the process. We began with 24 nonprofit organizations, then voted on which 12 to keep after interviews, presentations and class deliberations.
After finishing up both site visits, each group who visited will do a presentation in front of the class. We started this on Wednesday, and we went through the first six site visits. In these presentations, students reflect on why they think this nonprofit would be a good fit, mention any concerns with the nonprofits, as well as share their thoughts on if it would align with our class mission statement. The final 12 nonprofits we are exploring include Lincoln Literacy, Lighthouse, CEDARS, Community Action Partnership, City Impact, Northeast Family Impact, White Cane Foundation, Malone Center, HopeSpoke, Educare, Family Services Lincoln and NCFL.
11/8/2021 - Strive to Thrive: First Week of Site Visits
Welcome back! Thanks for continuing along with us as we proceed with figuring out who should receive our grant money. While all the NPOs have been amazing thus far, and ideally we could give every organization grant money, we may only allot $5,000 each to two organizations. To help us find the organization that best fits our mission statement, our class went on site visits to the twelve organizations that we chose. These organizations include the following: Lincoln Literacy, Lighthouse, City Impact, HopeSpoke, Northeast Family Center, Educare, White Cane Foundation, Family Services Lincoln, Malone Community Center, Family Learning Community Nebraska, Community Action Partnership and CEDARS. Last Wednesday, we visited the first six and today we will visit the next. We split each site visit up by our tasks groups. For example, we, the publicity group visited the Malone Center last Monday. Below is a little about what we learned there:
The Malone Community Center is a nonprofit set on improving Lincoln's economic and social conditions and is determined to grow the understanding between all races. At our site visit Wednesday, we spoke to the executive director, John Goodwin, and community health and outreach director, Christiana Vermeline. When asked what set them apart from other nonprofits in Lincoln, they both answered the same: passion. You truly can see the passion and love that the Malone Center has for changing the lives of those living in poverty.
Goodwin compared combating poverty to playing a football game, specifically the Green Bay Packers. He said, “I think of it as gearing up a game plan for reaching unity and prosperity throughout Lincoln. What are we up against, and how are we going to fix it?”
Each little change in our society is like winning a down in football. Once you win a down, you can win quarters, quarters win halves, and halves win games. Clearly, Goodwin also coached the youth football team for the Malone Center. Football is one of the many programs offered at the youth center.
There is also basketball and other youth athletics, which are played in the gym, support and outreach, youth leadership, and education programs. If you would like to see a complete list of these programs, please visit their website https://malonecenter.org/programs/. Our group feels fortunate to have been able to visit the Malone Center. Their mission and vision are seen clearly throughout their work. If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to them. Keep posted for more updates; we'll see you next week!
11/04/2021 - Strive to Thrive: Deliberating for the 12 Site Visit NPOs
Welcome back! Thanks for following along so far on our process of choosing two nonprofits to receive a $5,000 grant. This past week was a fast-paced, busy last week as each student finished reviewing 24 white papers, and as a class, we moved into and finished the two rounds of deliberations.
The Deliberation Process
The deliberation process began last Monday, led by the Class Evaluation task group. To kick it off, the Class Evaluation task group presented the averages of each student’s evaluation of the chosen nonprofits’ fit to our class mission statement. Using these statistics, they created a list that ranked each nonprofit. Now that we had the objective aspect of decision-making, it was time to add the subjective aspect by beginning deliberations. Partners had two minutes to explain how their nonprofit fit the mission statement. After two minutes, the class deliberated for four minutes where students had the opportunity to give opinions and ask questions to clarify any information. Following the four minutes of class deliberation, each class member voted whether to keep or eliminate the nonprofit. The Class Evaluation task group utilized the two-thirds rule to guide which nonprofits moved onto the site visit finalist list.
Last Monday, we began deliberating the 12 lowest-ranked nonprofits. The conversations were positive, honest and overall went great! While some nonprofits were eliminated, a second look at some nonprofits led to adding them to our site visit finalist list. We appreciated the opportunity to converse with our classmates, have a healthy debate and understand the passionate nonprofits in the Lincoln community.
Last Wednesday, we finished the deliberations by deliberating the 12 highest ranked nonprofits. We followed the same process from Monday, and we ended up eliminating some of our highest ranked nonprofits showing the importance of a balance between objective and subjective evaluation. At the end of the class, we were debating a list of four nonprofits to fill the final two site visit spots. It was a difficult decision, but we were able to solidify our 12 nonprofit finalists.
Congratulations to the Site Visit Finalists
After a fantastic two days of deliberations, we would like to give a big congratulations to the following nonprofits: Lincoln Literacy, Lighthouse, City Impact, HopeSpoke, Northeast Family Center, Educare, White Cane Foundation, Family Services Lincoln, Malone Center, Family Learning Community Nebraska, Community Action Partnership, and CEDARS. We look forward to learning more about your mission and visiting your site.
Thanks for following along this week. Stay tuned for next week to learn more about the site visit process!
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!
Published: December 8, 2021