With $100,000 from United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley to distribute to organizations of the Willamette MBA cohort’s choosing, the eight-member cohort spent initial weeks meeting with community members and leaders to learn the needs of the Mid-Willamette Valley. The cohort chose a funding area of Building Resilience in Children and Young Adults. After revising and releasing the Letter of Intent (LOI), the students systematically reviewed all 46 LOI applications. After a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, advisory board meetings, and a site visit stage, the students selected seven local not-for-profit organizations to receive funding for the 2019-2020 grant cycle. The students chose from a highly competitive field of applicants across Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties.
The 2019-2020 Willamette MBA Community Grant Program is funding the 7 following organizations and their projects/programs:
- Connections365, Improved Health & Educational Outcomes for High-Risk Youth Through Healthy Extracurricular Activities - $5,000
- Institute of Applied Ecology, Nature Behind Bars - $13,659
- Latinos Unidos Siempre, Pipeline to Liberation - $30,000
- Marion-Polk Food Share, Youth Farm Leadership Development & Hunger Relief - $10,000
- Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition, #OK2ASK: Starting Conversations with Elementary School Children & Parents About Suicide Prevention - $22,500
- REACH Northwest, Every Child/Recruitment & Retention Initiative - $12,000
- Francis Shelter, Getting to Graduation: Improving Computer Access for Homeless Youth - $5,000
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and continued social distancing, these recipients will celebrate and meet at an award event in Fall 2020, hosted by the 2020-2021 cohort. Each organization will be presented with their award between now and June 2020.
Experiential and consequential learning has been central to the Atkinson Graduate School of Management curriculum for more than twenty years.
Established in 2016 as a partnership between United Way, Mountain West Investment Corporation and Willamette University MBA, the Willamette MBA Community Grant Program has benefited 32 organizations through $550,000 in grants in its first four years. This program was created with the goal to cultivate leadership in the not-for-profit sector and create a significant impact in the Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties.
Giving these awards is the culmination of a year of hard work for the students enrolled in the Willamette MBA course, Philanthropic Investment for Community Impact, and the high interest of the not-for-profit community. At the beginning of the academic year, students crafted a shared mission of supporting a sustainable network of not-for-profits preemptively confronting root-cause issues that will have a continuous impact on our stakeholders and their communities. Together with our values, this mission helped us work towards our vision of an empathetic, equitable, environmentally-friendly community that is supported by a resilient network of not-for-profit organizations.
Students took advice and guidance from co-instructors Andrew Galen and Nicole Thibodeau to make informative and thoughtful decisions for this year’s grantees and funding area. They also relied upon advice from prominent leaders in the local not-for-profit community. Decisions throughout the year were made by assessing potential impact on the funding area and the overall alignment with the cohort’s mission, vision, and values.
Of the 46 organizations who submitted Letters of Intent to the program in November with requests totaling $889,852.00, the students received 11 submissions in response to a Request for Proposal, totaling $169,785.00. Through a diligent and systematic review process, the students narrowed down their list to a final group of 9 organizations selected for site visits that would provide students with a more complete picture of each organization.
An informed and transparent conversation amongst the members of the cohort lead to their tentative funding decisions. The students then reviewed their framework for decision making with the course’s Advisory Board. After a final determining discussion, the cohort decided on 7 organizations as grantees to fund for a total of $100,000. Once decisions were made, organizations were notified of their selection as a final grantee. As part of grant agreements, students in next year’s cohorts will follow up with these grantees over the following academic year to evaluate the impact of the selected initiatives.
Special thanks is given to past Chief Executive Officer of United Way, Ron Hays, for being one of the inaugural instructors of the course and United Way’s current CEO Rhonda Wolf for continuing this collaboration, our past funder Mount West Investment, and to all the organizations that applied to our grant program this grant cycle.
Our second Annual Report will be released soon! Please stay tuned for this exciting report!