February 24, 2017, BY Matthew Beltz

Management students at Heiter Center
Management 101 students volunteer at a local children's center. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Children at Lewisburg's Donald L. Heiter Community Center now have a bright, inviting library, thanks to a group of Bucknell University management majors. Last fall, they transformed the space, held a grand reopening and set up a reading rewards program for the youngsters.

This was just the latest Heiter Center project students in Management 101 classes have completed. In fact, that group was the 14th MGMT 101 company that has worked with the center on a variety of service projects since 2000. Service is the centerpiece of the course, and numerous organizations have benefitted since MGMT 101 debuted 37 years ago.

A requirement for all management majors, MGMT 101 is a collaborative and experiential class in which groups of students — four per semester — create and manage companies that sell products such as clothing, accessories or novelties. The proceeds fund the service projects, and many companies donate excess profits to their client partners.

"The idea is for students to have a very complex experience in organizing and managing, and throughout it to stop, reflect and think about various theories that might allow them to better understand and improve," said Professor Tammy Hiller, management, who teaches the course with departmental colleagues Neil Boyd, Jamie Hendry and Eric Martin. "Managing the service projects gives students a rich experience in working collaboratively with community partners to create value for stakeholders who are different from themselves, which makes all involved quite happy."

Through the 2016 fall semester, 295 MGMT 101 companies had provided more than $469,500 in services and donations and worked about 94,800 hours for their client partners.

"Management 101 companies are responsible for a lot of our growth. Every time we grow, it's because of them," said Andrea Tufo, the Heiter Center's executive director. "If it weren't for them, a lot of things that they have done would not have been done - at least not in the same time frame. We save a lot of money through volunteers, and Bucknell students are a big part of that."

Tufo also believes there is an even greater benefit for both students and nonprofit organizations over time.

"A lot of students have come back and volunteered after the course ended, and they're able to see the importance of their contributions," she said. "Hopefully, once they graduate, they might consider helping a nonprofit in their local community either as a volunteer or board member. Today's students are tomorrow's board members."

One such student is Nir Aish '19, an undeclared School of Management student and a member of the company that worked on the library last fall. After seeing the impact her group made, she now plans to return and volunteer this semester.

"Something I took away from this experience was that if the children see the same people continuing to come back and volunteer, even if only for a few hours a month, then they see that there are a lot of good people in the world," she said. "It was really rewarding to make a connection with the children. You can see their potential, and having mentors can really change their lives."

Local and Global Impact
In the spring of 2015, the nearby Milton YMCA benefitted from another MGMT 101 company, DiversiTees for the YMCA's Needs, which donated nearly $3,000 toward renovation of the facility's community room. This followed the company's service project, which consisted of painting a mural in the YMCA's teen center and running a series of weekly programs that taught young participants about diversity and inclusivity. Some of those activities have remained in the YMCA's weekly teen programming. For its efforts, the company received the branch's 2015 Harman Teen Center Award.

"I can't say enough about how great the students were," said Rob Moyer, aquatics and program director. "They were very well organized and had great ideas, and the company followed through so well. The donation toward the community room was a major selling point to our board and was the catalyst to get that project started."

Another past MGMT 101 service project continues to help numerous people from around the world. In spring 2007, Buck'n Great Shirts established an account with Kiva, a microlending company founded by Jessica Jackley '00. After attending a talk that Jackley gave on campus, some of the students saw Kiva as a way to extend their impact far beyond the course. When the last students from the company graduated in 2010, Hiller pledged to continue managing the Kiva account. To date, portions of the initial $1,600 have been lent out a total of 428 times, distributing $16,525 to individuals in 60 countries.

"It was a great learning experience for those students, and their level of commitment was remarkable," said Hiller. "Service projects, not business projects, are at the heart of Management 101 companies. If you have at the heart of an organization something that contributes to the world in a way that matters, in addition to why the product or service is being produced or offered, that makes for stronger, healthier and more powerful communities."