PaCE Program at Willamette Helps Area Non-Profits for 4th Year

What do Habitat for Humanity, coloring books, antennae balls and greeting cards have in common? For a brief time anyway, they were all the focus of the PaCE Project at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University.

PaCE stands for the Private, Public and Community Enterprise Project organized by teams of Atkinson graduate students who develop both a business plan and a plan for community service in cooperation with a local non-profit organization. The students create and market a product or service in cooperation with a non-profit agency and then donate the proceeds and substantial volunteer hours to their non-profit partner.

PaCE has a history of returning substantial profits to non-profit partners. In 1999-00, three enterprises contributed net revenues totaling more than $17,000 to the YMCA, the Garten Foundation and Shangri-La. In 2000-01, three enterprises contributed net revenues in excess of $5,800 and 1,100 hours of volunteer work to Habitat for Humanity, Easter Seals Children's Guild and the YMCA. Commercial ventures included an Oregon-based recipe book, a jazz music compact disc and a service that taught seniors to use the web.

The four teams all had to apply for capital start-up loans through Marion and Polk Schools Credit Union, which offer loans to the PaCE program of up to $6,000. PaCE students also enroll concurrently in year-long courses that cover those issues likely to surface during their PaCE partnerships like organization theory and behavior, human resource management, and negotiation, marketing, government-business relationships, and international management.

This year the teams were The Phoenix Group, which provided consulting services and volunteered hours to the Salem Area Habitat for Humanity; Mill Stream Publishing created a bilingual activity/coloring book and partnered with the Salem Outreach Shelter where they helped tutor, developed a business plan and provided manual labor at the shelter.

AB Promotions marketed antennae balls to organizations that displayed that organization's logo. They partnered with the YMCA and helped with Teen Center activities, fundraising, event planning and facilitation. Finally, Oregon Inspirations created greeting cards with photos of Oregon scenery. This team partnered with MedAssist and helped offices in Salem Hospital with brochure development and market analysis.

This year's final PaCE presentations are scheduled for April 1. During these 20-minute presentations, the graduate students will share the results of their respective projects and will present participating non-profit organizations with checks and a final count for the volunteer hours generated by the teams.

The theory behind PaCE is that direct experience is the best teacher. "Student understanding of management concepts improves because their projects show them how disciplinary skills fit together," said Alison Hohengarten, Atkinson assistant dean. "Trial-and-error problem solving improves their retention and the reality of the problems helps students see the applications of new ideas and approaches to other settings."

She added, "Students also develop better interpersonal and team skills because they must coordinate the efforts of up to 25 people. They gain confidence and insight into alternative career paths in management, and on occasion, continue their profitable enterprises."

For more information, contact Hohengarten at or visit the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.