College of Business collaborates with United Way

Leighann McGivern

The College of Business Administration, in conjunction with the United Way of Portage County, has created a new course for students to gain real-world experience working with local non-profit organizations.

The business consulting and community practicum will be a senior-level undergraduate course for business administration majors beginning in Fall 2011. In the class, students will work alongside non-profit organizations to plan business initiatives.

“The economy still is in a time of recovery, but still not much is happening,” said Pratim Datta, assistant professor in Management and Information Systems, who led the initiative for the program. “(Non-profits) have to manage with this very, very, very slim staff, and most of the time this staff doesn’t know much about the business aspects of anything in terms of managing, scheduling, fundraising — all of these things we do.”

Datta said students in the class will compete in teams of two to four students in order to come up with the best resolutions for various non-profit projects. The students will present their ideas to the organizations, who will then decide which solutions to pursue.

“Kent State is no longer a passive donor, but they’re an active participant,” Datta said. “Whenever they need money we give them money. After that, we have really never engaged.”

Yank Heisler, dean of the College of Business, said both parties will benefit from the collaboration.

Local non-profits working with the College of Business

Brimfield Hist. Soc. Kelso House Museum,

Townhall II,

Port. Co. Parks Foundation,

Port. Learning Center Head Start,

Port. Co. Literacy Coalition,

Senior Track,

Summit American Red Cross,

Randolph/Suffield/Atwater Food Shelf,

Port. Co. Parks Foundation,

Coleman Prof. Svcs,

Big Brothers & Sisters of Port.,

Community Action Council,

Community Legal Aid,

Habitat for Humanity,

Port. Co. Parks Foundation,

Robinson Memorial,

Children’s Advantage,

Children’s Advocacy,

Family & Community Services,

United Disability Services,

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanc.,

Even Start Family Literacy Comm. Action,

Streetsboro Community Pantry,

Mobile Meals,

Early Head Start

“The non-profits will gain energy; they’ll gain enthusiasm; they’ll gain lots of things from our students,” Heisler said. “If you’re a student walking away from that experience, you will have made a difference in the real world — you’re going to feel good about giving back.”

Steve Kleiber, CEO of United Way of Portage County, said United Way is working with the College of Business in order to recruit local non-profits in the community.

“Our role at United Way will be to provide support, to be a contact point for the nonprofits and to work with Kent State University to make sure that we can spread the word and outreach this program across the county to a non-profit who might have an interest,” Kleiber said.

According to its website, United Way is a “volunteer-led, non-profit organization located in a geographic community that seeks and addresses the root causes of key issues, is accountable for stewardship of resources and is accountable for short-term and long-term results.”

So far students in the course are set to work with 25 local non-profit organizations throughout Portage County, and Datta hopes the program will grow from there.

“Over time what we would really like is to use this as a platform and as a pamphlet for, firstly, the whole of the College of Business and then possibly the university,” Datta said. “No other school does anything close, even remotely similar to this.”

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected]