With the season of giving upon us, Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) program proved that it is all-in. The program found a way to integrate student knowledge into giving back to local communities through a program called the Social Impact Project. This initiative matches a group of five to six EMBA students with local non-profits who are seeking guidance on operational or management issues. The projects culminated on Saturday, November 19, after more than six months of research and analysis, with approximately 30 EMBA students presenting their strategic recommendations to seven non-profit organizations.

The current cohort is the third EMBA class to participate in the Social Impact Project, which was designed to enhance students’ learning and experiences while making an impact on meaningful causes. Nonprofit organizations included in the Social Impact Project were Hospitality House, Focus:Hope, and Alliance for Hope in Southeast Michigan; Lansing School District & Allen Marketplace, Peckham, and (YES!) The Youth Education and Support program in mid-Michigan; and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor on the west side of the state.

Students at social impact

The Broad College of Business Social Impact Projects allowed EMBA students to work hand-in-hand with nonprofit organizations. [MATTHEW DAE SMITH | for the Broad College of Business]

“Client organizations should be engaged in addressing social or economic problems such as homelessness, hunger, poverty, public health, or some other pressing social need,” said Greg Janicki, director of the EMBA’s Troy cohort.

With clients secured, the next step was taking strategic action. Students became the experts for their client and worked collaboratively to solve target issues. “Organizations identify a project that involves a significant managerial issue where an independent, outside perspective would be beneficial,” said Janicki. “This might involve operations, outreach and engagement, human resource management, process improvement, organizational design, and strategic planning.”

Broad’s EMBA program has a longstanding history of promoting and improving business acumen in the nonprofit sector. Earlier this year, EMBA announced that it launched a scholarship with the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

The program has proven to be beneficial for both students and the organizations they work with. “The EMBA program wanted to enhance the student experience with an applied learning, consulting-style engagement,” said Janicki. “A project that allowed students to apply their experience and MBA learning to advance the mission of Michigan non-profits aligns perfectly with MSU’s long history of social engagement.”