There was certainly a sense of accomplishment at the ChangeTheWorld.org Symposium and Reception hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC). After a semester-long consulting engagement with nonprofits across the country, student consultants were eager to discuss the impressive outcomes of their work. In the beginning of the fall semester, students were grouped in teams and then paired with nonprofits through ChangeTheWorld.org, a program run in partnership between CSVC and Grassroots.org.
Project ideas had already been pre-vetted for appropriate scope and depth, but student teams worked collaboratively with their nonprofit clients to further define the project specifics and goals. Projects included comprehensive marketing plans, five-year strategic plans, financial models for sustainable revenue generation, and programmatic outcome measurement. By the symposium, students certainly had good reason to feel accomplished. Despite having to work with nonprofits that were often in another part of the country and having to balance school and other extracurricular commitments, many student teams met and even exceeded the expectations of their partner nonprofits.
This isn’t entirely surprising. ChangeTheWorld.org, a social venture consulting program, has partnered with the University of Maryland and seven other universities since 2006 to match talented undergraduate and graduate students with nonprofit organizations in noncredit, project-based consulting partnerships. The result has been over 350 students engaged in successful projects with more than 145 organizations.
This track record of success came through in a brief presentation by the COO of the Incentive Mentoring Program, Tong Zhang, who kicked off the evening. Over the last two years, Zhang has worked with both an undergraduate and Executive MBA team and each has had a dramatic impact on her organization.
Following a glimpse into previous successes, seven of this year’s twenty-one student teams showcased their work in a project gallery. Teams shared their journeys and outcomes with nonprofit partners, interested staff and faculty, and ChangeTheWorld.org alumni. A few alumni were even doubling as recruiters, knowing first-hand how well these experiences translate to a full-time job.
Students also had the opportunity to listen and learn about other teams. Two student teams in particular both worked on developing a revenue generation strategy for equestrian therapeutic centers, Dream Power and the Saddle Light Center. During the reception, they were able to compare solutions and share experiences.
It’s remarkable how much students can accomplish in a non-credit extracurricular consulting engagement such as ChangeTheWorld.org. They show passion and excitement for, not only hands-on experience, but also working with mission-driven organizations. They have a lot to be proud of, and hopefully this is just the beginning of their social impact careers.