• New Management Course Develops Leadership Skills

10/23/2008

Jumpstart is a national organization that pairs college students with preschool students in an effort to enhance the toddlers' reading skills. Good cause, sure. But just like anything else, it costs money. Each child needs $54 worth of books each year—books that go home with the kids after they complete the program, so they can continue to practice their new skills. That's a lot of loot for a non-profit. And that's one of the challenges that Professor Laurie Levesque presented to the students in her MGT 200 course, Leadership and Social Responsibility. She then charged her students with figuring out a way to make that money through a fundraiser that Jumpstart could implement with limited resources and a handful of volunteers. "The course gives them a chance to step up as leaders," says Levesque, the new assistant dean for undergraduate programs. Her students' solution? Fundraising events ranged from a polar plunge, to a dodge ball tournament, to a family fair with fun reading-based activities. One group contracted with a local Starbucks to host a six-week reading event, which would be accompanied by the sale of t-shirts (sponsored by a local law firm) and karaoke CDs aimed at developing preschoolers’ reading (sponsored by Stellar Records).

The Jumpstart teams weren't the only ones in the management course to do some good. Levesque asked six teams to develop a marketing plan to recruit tutors for ABCD - Action for Boston Community Development, Inc., a local organization that runs a high school for students who need to earn their last credits or have aged out of the Boston's public school system. Professor Thomas Kenworthy, another MGT 200 instructor, challenged students in his class to convince a team of 10 to participate in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk in October and to raise funds for it. Suffolk ranked fifth in Boston for corporate support of the event, in part due to their efforts. The other half of Kenworthy’s students worked in teams to find a local organization to sponsor the Bread & Milk program, an initiative he thought up to get bread and milk to families in need.

MGT 200, Leadership and Social Responsibility, is a new sophomore requirement in the Business School and the faculty have a few simple goals for students: 1) understand the partnerships between for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations, 2) acknowledge the leadership needs and resource challenges the latter face, and 3) engage in a socially responsible project for the benefit of the Boston community, and maybe, just maybe, consider the non-profit a viable career route. Facing the organizational, staffing, and marketing challenges in a non-profit "takes a higher level of thinking," Levesque says. And she wants to show her students that they can play a role in business and the community.

 

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