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. Students also volunteer their service on outreach projects. As part of the class team structure, the social media team is initiating a Strive to Thrive Lincoln student blog. Students 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 Jordan Hames, a marketing major from Des Moines, Iowa; Jared Larsen, a management major from Gretna, Nebraska; Nick Raymond, a marketing major from Overland Park, Kansas; Brandon Roarty, a management major from Elkhorn, Nebraska; Mackenzie Roeder, a management major from Plano, Texas; and Xin Yin, a management major from XiangTan, Hunan, China. Amber Messersmith, lecturer of management, teaches the class.
3/12/18 - Site Visit Week is Here
In addition to preparing for site visits, last week's classes included discussion of an article from the Minnesota Council on Foundations on proper ways for nonprofit organizations to conduct these visits. It seemed a number of students were surprised by some of the author's tips: most notably by the idea that organizations should not try to dazzle and entertain their visitors too much. Such performances can distract from important questions your visitors may have and pull focus from the operations of your organization.
Our first round of site visits were conducted yesterday, with the second round being held on Wednesday of this week. This blogger had the opportunity to visit the Clyde Malone Community Center near 20th and U Street. What an inspiring experience it was! We had questions answered by Kimberly Goins, executive director, who did an excellent job of outlining how Malone Center is impacting the surrounding community and the Lego League project they would like to soon implement for their youth members.
Our visit concluded with a tour of the facility, where we were able to observe some of the youth activities held daily at the center that included music lessons and games held in the gymnasium. We are excited for Wednesday's site visit to the Lincoln Boy's and Girl's Club and to begin preparing an in-class presentation each group will give regarding the visits they conducted.
3/5/18 - The Applications Are In!
Applications are in! With applications trickling in during the weeks leading up to the deadline, we were thrilled to see that many non-profit organizations were able to submit their documents in time, resulting in a total of 45 Lincoln-area organizations eligible for the Strive to Thrive Lincoln grant.
During the week of February 26, the Strive to Thrive students reviewed the application documents submitted by each organization and rated them based on the following factors: how closely the organization's mission statement aligns with our own, their past success and levels of fiscal responsibility, and the scope and reach of their proposed projects. This week, we have held in-class deliberations of each organization, where students had the opportunity to provide input on the pros and cons of funding each project vs another, as well as provide personal insight individuals may have gained from their own experiences working and volunteering with the organizations.
Our class was prepared for impassioned speeches and the possibility of tense conflicts concerning the merits or lack thereof for each non-profit, based on stories about deliberations from past semesters. However, both deliberation days remained very civil and respectful. In addition to narrowing down finalists, these evaluations and deliberations of the various non-profit organizations provided students with in-depth education about the mission and functions of each of the 45 groups that submitted applications. The students of Strive to Thrive are much more familiar with the many groups of impoverished or disenfranchised people in Lincoln and the passionate people who volunteer their time and energy to serve them.
Today, the 16 finalists we reached during class deliberations will be notified of this announcement. Later this week, we will receive a presentation from the Site Visit Group that will clarify the details of arranging the various visits.
2/18/18 - Outreach to the Lincoln Community
The deadline for non-profit organizations (NPOs) to submit their application is fast-approaching. While we had some concern that fewer NPOs had begun or completed applications by this time in past semesters, we found out many organizations are busy completing United Way paperwork. We expect and hope for an influx of applications before the February 23 deadline.
Over the past two weeks, students engaged in a variety of volunteer events at NPOs in the Lincoln area to gain a better understanding of what these organizations do and who they serve. For example, students who visited the Lincoln Food Bank put together structured bags of essential foods for delivery to needy families in the area. It was amazing to see the passion the full-time employees at these NPOs have for their organization's mission.
In other class news, we had a guest panel of representatives from past Strive to Thrive grant winners come to class and discuss their organizations and how they plan to use the funds they were awarded. We received some great feedback on how the entire process operates and got a few tips for improvement. With applications due by the end of this week, we will soon begin looking deeper into the NPOs that submitted and begin the process of debating potential winners.
2/10/18 - Full of Excitement
The initial stages of this semester's Strive to Thrive project have been full of excitement. Our group (Social Media) quickly developed a good rapport and we seem to be enjoying each others' company and project input. Each member of our group has been accountable for their share of work and we are beginning to churn out social media content at a faster rate.
Early on, we met with representatives of the College of Business social media directors who provided some much-needed tips and expertise regarding making our social media posts as effective as possible. We will focus on daily Facebook
posts, and with posts on other platforms being less frequent but no less substantial.
Strive to Thrive got up and running before we knew it. Over the past week, we refined the class mission statement for what NPO's we are targeting for the grant and the application is now available
for organizations to submit. We are excited to have all applications submitted by February 23 and to begin narrowing down potential winners.