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Archive for Friday, May 3, 2013

Editorial: Great match

Pairing Kansas University students who need experience with nonprofits who need help is a winning combination.

May 3, 2013

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Nonprofit agencies in Kansas have a number of problems but not much money to hire consultants to help solve them. Students in Kansas University’s master of business administration program need experience solving problems, and they work for free.

It’s a match made in heaven.

During a recent gala event, five groups of MBA students reported on their work during the current school year with nonprofit agencies in Lawrence and elsewhere in the state. In each case, the agency came to the students with a problem or challenge; the students’ job was to study the issue and come up with possible solutions.

One group tried to figure out how Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center could reduce the number of no-shows for scheduled appointments. Two others studied issues related to creating a local “food hub” and how to measure the economic impact of local food production in the county. Two other groups went further afield: one to Kansas City to assess the business model of the Central Exchange, a women’s career development agency, and another to southwest Kansas to help the Ashland Healthcare Center figure out how to recruit and keep qualified nursing assistants to work in its long-term care facility.

These are real-world agencies with real-world problems. If students can come up with some real-world solutions, they can benefit not only the agencies with whom they are working but perhaps other agencies with similar challenges. Connecting KU students to Kansas non-profits is great experience and great public relations for the university, especially when students spread out across the state to help agencies in places like Ashland, a town of about 850 people south of Dodge City.

Such pairings may increase as the program expands. Officials in the KU School of Business say they already have eight nonprofits signed up to participate in the program next year and more on a waiting list.

What a great way to give KU students some concrete experience while providing some concrete benefit to nonprofit agencies across the state. This program seems like a winner for everyone involved.

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