FSU Business Students Step Up to Help Non-Profits

FSU Business Students Step Up to Help Non-Profits

Aug 1, 2018

Anyone who has ever worked for a small or medium-sized nonprofit can tell you that expenses are tight, and items such as web sites and other technology can easily fall by the wayside.

"Many non-profits have specific, targeted needs, but often lack the resources to keep up with those needs," says Anna Cross, Executive Director of the MetroWest Nonprofit Network (MWNN), which serves as a resource for nonprofits in the MetroWest region.

Framingham State students in Professor Karen Druffel's Information Systems Management class are stepping up to help local nonprofits, while also getting the chance to refine their skills and network with local community leaders. The effort is part of a larger formal partnership between FSU and MWNN to develop and train the next generation of non-profit leaders.

It all began this past fall, when Druffel assigned her students a project to connect with a local business or nonprofit. Evan Jensen '18, Dylan Schofield ‘18 and Adam Offenstine '18 were able to connect with Cross, who happened to need assistance refreshing and rebuilding the organization's web site.

"The outreach came at a great time for us, because we were just looking at our web site and how to make it more user friendly," Cross says. "The students had a level of skill and expertise that I did not have."

Jensen, a Computer Science major who graduated in the spring, enjoyed the experience so much that Cross has connected him with other non-profits in need of similar services over the summer, including A Place to Turn, an emergency food pantry in Natick. The group needed a refreshed donation page on their web site.

"Evan was fantastic," says Nancy Miskowiec, a volunteer and former board member for A Place to Turn. "He explained exactly how he could help and other areas where he could provide assistance. We ended up signing a maintenance agreement with him to keep the web site up to date."

Jensen says he's enjoyed being able to help out local organizations who are serving the community.

"It's nice to be able to help these groups, who can't afford to be bogged down by big agency fees," says Jensen.

Druffel has been connecting her students with businesses for the past five years and says Cross is the ideal client, because she understands what students will be able to accomplish in the amount of time they have and provides excellent evaluations.

"She was not only happy with the work, but was able to express to students what they are doing well so they are able to repeat that in a job interview setting," says Druffel.

Similar collaborations among other professors and departments at FSU are expected, as the University and MWNN expand their partnership.

"Evan's commitment to serving nonprofits is so important and I think it's such a great example of the power of collaboration," says Cross. "It's really a win-win situation for the students and the nonprofits."

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.