- By Jon Reidel
Tim Andreasen knew his team’s final project in their “Entrepreneurial Leadership” class needed to be innovative, sustainable, involve strategic partnerships, and above all else, make a difference in the lives of a specific community. Based on attendance and donations generated from his team’s “Art on Board” fundraiser on April 19 at Burlington City Arts, the senior business major and his classmates made an immediate impact that appears to be sustainable.
The evening of “art, music and drinks” was attended by more than 300 people and showcased the partnerships established with local artists, non-profits and businesses by Andreasen and his fellow students Todd Kinneston, Ben Weigher, Michael Massa and Eric Laine. On hand were seven local artists who painted or created graphic imagery on snowboards that were auctioned off for charity; Zachary Nigro, brand coordinator for Burton who agreed to donate the snowboards; senior Brandon Sauer, who works in marketing at The Sticky Brand, a local printshop and vinyl die cuttery that prepared the surfaces of the snowboards for artists to work on; Hot Wax who played music; and members of the UVM Snowboard Team, which donated funds to print promotional flyers for the event.
“We have a lot of friends who are artists and musicians, and we wanted to showcase their work for a good cause,” says Andreasen, who along with his father constructed wooden-stained stands to display the snowboards from a fallen tree in his parents’ back yard. “It started out as just an idea, but turned into a really cool collaborative project that involved a lot of people at UVM and in the local community.”
By the end of night, the event raised more than $500 for the BCA Scholarship Fund and Burton Chill Program, a youth development program that uses snowboarding to teach life skills and increase self-esteem in at-risk and underserved youth. Pre-event promotions such as posters, flyers, word of mouth and a Facebook page helped draw attention to the fundraiser.
Entrepreneurial efforts with a community focus
The eleven teams that completed “Make a Difference” projects for the “Entrepreneurial Leadership” course created by Pramodita Sharma, Sanders Professor for Family Business, will present them on Friday, April 26 in the main lobby of Kalkin Hall from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Projects focus on topics students have a passion for such as music, sports and art, but also include fundraising elements to support causes they care about, such as mentoring local youth, supporting the local emergency food shelf and the Ronald McDonald House.
For Kane Tobin and Sarah Gardner, creating UVMentors, a student-run organization committed to promoting the importance of education through one-on-one relationships between college students and local youth, is a personal passion. “I had a mentor when I was growing up, and she provided me with a stable role model and positive reinforcement, so I wanted to do something similar with this project,” says Gardner. Tobin, who spent seven years in the military, including tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, before coming to UVM, says he could have used a mentor as a teenager and believes proper training of UVMentors is critical to successfully mentoring youth at the Boys & Girls Club in Burlington. “Education is the key to ending the cycle of poverty that exists today,” says Tobin, who asks UVMentors to commit one hour per week in a one-on-one setting with their mentees. “A UVM student could really make a difference in the life of a child by being a role model and showing them how to achieve their dreams. They could turn an at-risk youth into a future UVM student who could later give back to the community.”
Another team used a marketing strategy to collect 620 pounds of groceries for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf that involved daily postings around campus with cryptic messages like “have you heard about it?” to create intrigue leading to later posters with Quick Response Codes (QR bar codes) linking to their Facebook page. For each food item donated, they offered raffle tickets for a Webbook, SpringFest tickets and other items. “We really wanted to help families in need, so we worked hard to understand what it would take organizationally to make something monumental happen in a short amount of time that would really have an impact,” said Ryan Little, a former U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan and is president of UVM’s Student Veteran Organization.
Every dog has its day
Some of the projects focused more on helping UVM students. The “Every Dog Has its Day” club brought six teams of dogs from Therapy Dogs of Vermont to Marsh Lounge in Billings to help students relive stress before final exams. 802unes creates mini-documentary style videos with rented library equipment to promote aspiring UVM and other local musicians like the Heisenbuells and Suz Friedman. “Vermont is all about the local scene, and we really wanted to support local musicians who needed an opportunity to have their voice heard,” said Stephanie Siegart.
Other groups organized a basketball tournament and barbecue to raise money for Boys & Girls Club; partnered with University Chemistry Cats to collect beverage can tabs to sell the aluminum to recycling centers to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and Vermont Children’s Hospital; and raised money to help the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and other local non-profits.
“Students were asked to clearly define their selected community, understand its needs, envision and deliver a project that addresses those needs, and have a legacy plan so that the project can continue after the course,” says Sharma, whose course enrollment increased from 15 last year to 50 this spring. “The fundamentals of ideation, CreAction (action-oriented creation) and cognitive ambidexterity that balances analytical-based prediction and creation are put to test in these projects. I am very pleased with the outcome. They are diverse indicating the diversity of interests in our student body, and yet, each makes a difference in our community, while enriching their experiences at UVM.”