During the economic downturn of 2008, University of Redlands Professor of Management Mara Winick found that local nonprofit organizations were turning to her for help.
“They were approaching me for student interns,” she says. “I thought, ‘We can do better than that!’”
Fast forward nine years, 70 organizations, and 130 student teams later, Winick’s Organizational Consulting course has completed projects ranging from assessing operations and designing marketing campaigns and materials to redesigning websites and preparing start-up materials for nonprofits.
This spring, Winick had a unique project to offer students. The client was the University of Redlands itself, and the challenge was redesigning and launching the senior gift campaign.
“Something just told me to go with it,” says Alanis Tziouvalas ’18, a recipient of the Taylor Community Service Endowed Scholarship. “I thought it could have a long-lasting effect on future students.”
Tziouvalas and three other seniors, Alexander Juarez ’18, Matthew Rigel ’18, and Jay Staudacher ’18, joined together to create Loyal and Engaged Alumni Pathway (LEAP). Through a series of events paired with the 2018 class gift campaign, LEAP welcomes the University’s newest graduates to the Bulldog alumni family. “This year’s campaign stands out because it really is students helping students,” says Rigel. The students conceptualized and executed their plans—all within two months. They wrote postcards to classmates, created a video, and promoted LEAP on social media.
Staudacher appreciated how they were given a real voice in the process: “Our thoughts were valued, we had the freedom to speak freely, and it was different than anything we had done before.”
Alison Roedl ’10 had just joined the University’s development team before she started working with the students in Winick’s class—the same one she took nearly a decade before. “It’s definitely like coming full circle,” she says. “The students’ thoughtful inquiry, peer-to-peer surveying, and honest feedback has made us rethink how we engage our youngest alumni.”
Forty seniors became first-time donors to the University, most supporting the Book Lending Program, a specific initiative within the Campus Diversity and Inclusion Department selected by the student team. Juarez, who worked at the library front desk, saw the growing need firsthand. “We thought it would be a great way for students to give back to each other,” he says.
Winick is proud of the ripple effect that her course has had, both at the University and beyond. “Working on a consulting team is a transformative experience,” she says. “Our students want real opportunities where they can apply their study, while gaining valuable experiences that actually make a difference.”
Tziouvalas agrees: “I think we made a difference and learned skills that we will take with us for the rest of our lives.”
For additional information on this year’s senior gift program, visit www.rfund.redlands.edu. To suggest an organizational consulting project, please contact Mara Winick at 909-748-8539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.