UofL students log countless volunteer hours working at non-profits. They do it as part of their education, but the benefits are teaching them lessons for a lifetime.
“I really believe it is incumbent on any metropolitan school to be active in their own community,” said College of Business Acting Dean Alan Attaway. “It’s part of that laboratory that we live in. I don’t know how you can be a metropolitan university and not participate in community outreach.”
The College of Business this year created a Head of Diversity and Community Initiatives position and tapped supply chain management professor Beth Davis-Sramek for the role.
Davis-Sramek championed the successful Elevate Portland Elementary Initiative, in which the college is focusing volunteer efforts on the struggling Portland Elementary School in Louisville’s West side. The initiative, now in its second year, has involved dozens of students, faculty and staff from the college and brought new hope to hundreds of Portland students, many of whom live in low-income, single-parent homes.
Tablet PCs, warm clothing, snacks and most of all, encouragement … these are the things that faculty, staff and students from the College of Business are bringing to one of Louisville’s most disadvantaged elementary schools. Launched in 2015, the Elevate Portland Elementary Initiative has quickly become a popular outreach project.
The college first provided new sweatshirts – that included each student’s high school graduation date on the back – to Portland’s 300 children. The shirts were ordered through the COB student-run CardShirt business. T-shirts were also provided for the children for a “Professional Signing Day”
career fair hosted by the college.
The College has provided many basic needs for the children like hats, mittens and socks, and boxes of snacks. An anonymous donation allowed tablet PCs to be supplied for every fifth grader.
Portland Principal Angela Hosch gets emotional when she talks about the UofL effort.
“They kept coming back,” she said. “I’m humbled that we’ve been embraced that way.”
A group of students from a COB honors class organized a UofL field trip for the Portland fifth-graders this spring.
“Before that, they thought UofL was just a football or a basketball team,” she said. “Because of the College of Business, they have
a real image of college – of where they could go, where they could be.”
Professor Ryan Quinn’s MBA class created a two-hour business venture and raised $594 for Elevate.
Elizabeth Liebschutz Roettger, Director of International Programs, has integrated Elevate Portland into her COB Campus Culture course.
“It teaches the students the value of corporate social responsibility. By understanding that being a leader also means giving their time, treasures, and talents back to the community, they are creating stronger pillars on which to develop their professional selves.”
Through a broader student outreach effort that started this fall, more than 170 UofL students have signed up to volunteer at Portland Elementary, and in the first week, the students provided 50 hours of volunteer time. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and Chi Omega sorority have completely embraced the Elevate Initiative, with a significant number of their members enrolling in the volunteer process.
“This is what business does,” Davis-Sramek said. “We create a process that provides the desired outcome, overlay it with technology to provide efficiency, and then scale it. We have the potential to align hundreds of UofL students who want to fully experience what ‘giving back to the community’ means.”
The Portland neighborhood is one of the poorest in Louisville and the majority of the children in this school live below the poverty line. The initiative is designed to provide the students with basic needs that support a higher quality learning environment and to nurture aspirational goals that will encourage a path out of poverty. This is a series of initiatives to help students there, so they can see beyond their basic needs to recognize the importance of and to take joy in education. See More
Every fall, thousands people visit Louisville to attend IdeaFestival. Like TED conferences, IdeaFestival presents speakers who give compelling talks about their research and discoveries with an eye toward the future.
In 2010, IdeaFestival added a program geared toward high school students called “Thrivals.” The brainchild of Nat Irvin II. “Thrivals” came from groundbreaking research he published in 2004. Irvin coined the term “thrivals” to describe a new demographic of forward-thinking African American youth with a global viewpoint.
This year’s theme was “Future of Human Imagination,” and one speaker was Margot Lee Shetterly, author of “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of black female NASA mathematicians (the movie is to be released in January 2017). Five hundred copies of the book were distributed to students attending Thrivals. Another speaker was Yari Rodriguez, an MIT researcher who is a finalist for a spot with a group that will settle on Mars beginning in 2025.
Students from several regional high schools attend Thrivals each year for free, but they have to earn their spot.
“Thrivals is a way for young people to be able to have these kinds of experiences now not later, not when they’re 25. They need to be informed, to be exposed to some of the best thinkers in the world. That’s what an institution like ours, the COB, UofL is about,” Irvin said.
Instructor Christy Burge’s leadership class for honors students is one of the most popular classes in the College of Business. And for good reason. For more than 10 years, Burge has assigned her students to find a cause and make a difference by coming up with a project, then raising the needed funds and making that project a reality. Her students have done countless projects. Among them: They have donated food and blankets to the homeless, raised funds and purchased art supplies for an art therapy program at Portland Elementary, put together care boxes for soldiers headed to Iraq from Fort Knox, adopted a refugee family, and organized a spa day for mothers housed in a local shelter. “I give them the reins,” Burge said. “It’s just amazing what these kids can do with a little guidance and a little knowledge and a little push.”
Another program, Project BUILD (Business United in Leadership Development), was started 30 years ago by Jay T. Brandi, finance professor and chair of the finance department.
This four-week summer program held at the college is for high school juniors and seniors. It introduces them to the world of business and business-related careers through classes in accounting, economics, finance, management and marketing.
Partners in the BUILD program include UofL, Lincoln Foundation, PNC Bank, Humana, UPS, WellCare, Old National Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Center for Nonprofit Innovation
The College of Business houses the Center for Nonprofit Innovation, which opened in 2007. Center Executive Director Robert Barker said all students in the Computer Information Systems program have done volunteer work with local nonprofits through the center.
“Every student graduates having worked with an actual client to design, develop and implement an actual system so they have work experience,” Barker said. The nonprofits get professional help they would otherwise not be able to afford.
The client list includes organizations like the Family Scholar House, The Healing Place, Coalition for the Homeless, Louisville Youth Choir, Animal Care Society, Catholic Charities, Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Visual Arts Association.
“The activities of the center have been a ‘win/win’ for both the students in the CIS major and the clients we serve,” Barker said.
Bruce Kemelgor, associate management professor, teaches courses for undergrads and MBA students that are 100 percent community engagement. “No tests, no exams,” he said.
In his Small Business Consulting class, undergraduate students work in teams to help nonprofits and other small businesses reach a goal. The businesses receive a report that shows what needs to be done and how, including cost estimates. Hundreds of businesses and nonprofits have benefited.
Kemelgor’s MBA students help nonprofits and other businesses achieve strategic initiatives through the “Access MBA” program. Among the nonprofits helped are the Kentucky Center for Accessible Living, Seven Counties Services and Necole’s Place.
Back to nature
Steve Kendra, Executive-in-Residence in Computer Information Systems, regularly takes College of Business students to Jefferson Memorial Forest for community outreach projects.
Kendra, a volunteer naturalist at the forest, invites students to help with trail maintenance, land stewardship, campground cleanup, facilities and landscape enhancement, and educational opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students.
The COB students help on Saturday mornings, and more than 100 students have participated in this outreach, which Kendra started five years ago.
The heart of community engagement
In his Community Engagement and Consulting class, management professor Frank Kuzmits has his students doing volunteer work every week, then posting their experiences on a Facebook page. He then offers encouraging comments on what they’ve experienced.
This semester, you can find the students at places like The Salvation Army, Kentucky Humane Society, Uspiritus, Legal Aid Society, Jewish Family and Career Services and Dream Factory of Louisville.
Dr. David Faulds’ social media class takes learnings from the classroom to help small businesses and non-profits develop social media marketing strategies, web design, and e-newletters. Students in Jenna Haugen’s Business Communications class do a final project that involves bringing a new business to the area. They consider all the relevant areas of business then pitch their ideas to community leaders.
Central High School students earn college credit
College of Business professors voluntarily teach introductory courses to high school students to help expose them to the world of business.
In one program, COB partners with Louisville Central High School to offer a dual credit course in business management. Classes are taught by 10 volunteer UofL professors.
Introduction to Business Management was created by COB management professor Nat Irvin II and CHS teacher Joseph P. Gutmann, a UofL graduate and adjunct professor, and head of the Law & Government Magnet Academy at CHS.
Students take classes in economics, organiza-tional behavior and leadership, business law, communications, finance, accounting, computer information systems, project management, decision making and management. The course counts as three hours of college credit.
Economic Development and Business Support Programs Include:
- Family Business Center – UofLFBC.com
Great Families. Exceptional Family Businesses. Thriving Communities.
What impact do family businesses have on our community?
- They comprise 80 to 90 percent of all business enterprises in North America.
- They account for 60 percent of total U.S. employment, 78 percent of all new jobs, and 5 percent of wages paid.
- But, only 40 percent of family-owned businesses survive to the second generation, 12 percent to the third, and 3 percent to the fourth.
The Family Business Center (FBC) at the University of Louisville’s College of Business is committed to improving these statistics by offering resources designed to inform, strengthen and celebrate family-owned businesses. Family-owned businesses have unique issues and challenges that require a different awareness and a different approach. The FBC is a community where business owning families can exchange strategies and experiences, safely explore challenging issues, and learn from leading experts in areas that are unique to family businesses.
With more than 85 members, the FBC represents many of the region’s strongest and most reputable family businesses. The FBC has helped many businesses build a strong foundation for family business governance, continuity, strategic planning, leadership transition, and growth. The FBC’s interactive workshops, roundtables, consulting services, and educational forums provide members access to best practice knowledge and information in ways that help improve succession and survival rates for family-owned businesses.
The impact of family-owned companies on our community is nothing less than profound. Should we take it for granted that they will always be here? Absolutely not.