Business Management students in the Davis College of Business & Technology at Jacksonville University are making a social impact on the First Coast through working with several nonprofit organizations and helping them improve and streamline their marketing efforts and processes.
The projects are part of Davis College’s pilot program, called “Business for Social Good,” sponsored by JU’s Center for Organizational Research and Executive Education (CORE), in conjunction with the Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida. The five nonprofits the students are working with this semester include the UF Health Child Protection Team (CPT), the Literacy Alliance of Northeast Florida, The Tributary, Barnabus and the Marie Barney Boston Scholarship Foundation.
“Our Davis College's Business for Social Good projects are part of our strategic initiative to pursue and deliver long-term social impact,” said Dr. Jim Simak, CORE director and an assistant professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at JU. “Our business management students work with selected non-profit organizations on their most urgent problems and opportunities.”
For UF’s Child Protection Team project, senior management students worked with computing students to establish a marketing strategy and build a new website for the Healing Hands (HH) charity that supports the Child Protection Team activities, including child abuse awareness and response, water safety programs and sleep safety for newborns. Additionally, JU students from the Zimmerman Scholars Program, the premier leadership development program for undergraduate students in the Davis College, supported the efforts and held a fundraiser to restock Jay’s Closet, which provides clothes and snacks for the children who are served by Helping Hands and the Child Protection Team.
JU business student Hannah Gagnon worked on the CPT team. She said she learned how you can use motivation through your work. “With this specific nonprofit, their motivation is the impact of saving a child, where everything they do directly correlates to children in their homes and those walking into their offices. Having this emotional investment translates into wanting to put the best work out possible.”
All of the clothing donations, matched by Dr. Barbara Ritter, dean of the Davis College of Business & Technology, are going straight to the children who are abused and neglected. “Having clothes donated allows each child to have a new pair of clothes to leave with in order to keep their dignity,” said Valerie Stanley, CPT associate director. “The students designed a website and logo for us and that’s going to keep us in the public eye, which will get us some much-needed visibility.”
Students working with the Literacy Alliance suggested creating a Mobility Bus, which would allow the company to grow geographically and help more people but keep the size intimate as well as provide internet to those who don’t have access. They also suggested updating the Alliance’s website to celebrate students. As a result, the student team developed several student success stories that could be used for the organization and also suggested hiring JU interns to help with certain needs of the company, such as marketing and technology.
Maxine String said the Alliance project was incredibly fulfilling for her. “They really do have strong hearts and I think they really do focus on the importance of adult literacy and how much it truly does impact their daily lives. It was really rewarding just to see how far these students have come and how it has impacted their lives.”
"The Literacy Alliance established a culture of creativity and problem solving that resulted in more than 100 percent growth in adult education over the last five years. The challenge became how to maintain that culture of innovation while managing the unprecedented growth,” said Literacy Alliance CEO Marcus Haile. “The JU Davis College of Business & Technology students used their insights on organizational development to provide new ideas for continued enrollment growth in community-based literacy skills building, workforce development training and high-school completion without compromising the organization's values. It has been an inspiring experience working with these future business leaders!"
JU’s CORE intends to establish Business for Social Good, a first-of-its-kind business capstone program focused on societal impact, as a regional or national initiative in 2024. The Center for Organizational Research and Executive Education is the outreach arm of the Davis College, providing consulting and executive education programs to the university’s industry partners. CORE supports the social impact strategy of the Davis College by inspiring positive change in organizations in Jacksonville and the surrounding regions. For more information about CORE, click here.