QENO plans student engagement component
February 12, 2013By Jenny Callison
The University of North Carolina Wilmington plans to add a new dimension in its outreach to area nonprofits.
UNCW's Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations (QENO) program, which currently works to make nonprofit organizations more effective, is launching a program to get students involved as well. The initiative will place specially trained UNCW undergraduates with organizations to carry out specific projects.
The Nonprofit Leadership Experience has three parts. First, participating students will learn skills in the classroom this summer. Then, each will be matched with an organization for a project that draws upon that student’s skills and experience.
At the conclusion of the projects, students and representatives from the nonprofit organizations involved will come back to campus for a day of reporting and sharing.
The students will get “genuine feedback” from the nonprofits, said Jeffrey Brudney, UNCW's Betty and Dan Cameron Family distinguished professor of innovation in the nonprofit sector and QENO's academic director.
“This is more than volunteering,” he said. “There will be an immediate impact from students doing such things as developing marketing plans, building websites and analyzing programs.”
Brudney pointed out that the experience students will gain during their semester of service is transferable across business sectors.
No other university division is offering this kind of class, said Natasha Davis, QENO’s program coordinator, adding that the class is in line with the university’s goal of helping give students experience that will help prepare them for a career.
“We’re helping nonprofits build capacity, and we’re giving students real-world experience at a time when they are having trouble finding internships,” Davis said. “We’ve taken the first step - we got feedback from organizations at our most recent workshop as to what kinds of things they need that students could do.”
“This will be a window on all sorts of employment,” Brudney said.
The first Nonprofit Leadership Experience class is designed for 30 students. As the program continues and more organizations take advantage of it, it will grow, Brudney said.
“Jeff and I both have been wanting QENO to involve students,” Davis said. “When nonprofit board members take our board training, they often go back to an organization that has too few staff members to get carry out the vision. Our students can provide an extra pair of hands to get things done.”