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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

MBA students help non-profit agencies

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 22, 2006 – University of Rhode Island graduate students in business administration helped develop a comprehensive corporate training program this spring for the Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation’s Sloop Providence.

Cookie Place, a bakery and café in Providence that offers employment and training for individuals with psychological and developmental disabilities, awarded MBA student Minal Vora of Warwick an internship to implement another graduate student team’s business plan. The URI team developed a plan that calls for sales of “Breakfast Bags,” a concept for breakfast on the go that includes a beverage and a baked good.

For the second straight year, URI Business Professor Deborah Rosen has linked her students to non-profit agencies in Rhode Island through Social Venture Partners, a collaborative of professionals focused on advancing the non-profit sector and social change. The students recently made final presentations to Social Venture Partners and their respective agencies during a meeting in Providence. Several are taking action on the URI graduate students’ recommendations.

“The non-profit organizations were very appreciative,” said Deborah Schimberg, executive director of Social Venture Partners. “The students do a great deal of real work that the agencies can’t do or don’t have the expertise to do. The URI students bring skills, excitement and passion to the agencies. What URI is doing is unique in the state and in the country. The collaboration with URI has been very successful and I’d like to see it expanded.”

“All of the students did a great job coming up with business ideas to generate income that would advance the agencies’ social mission,” Rosen said. “Several students saw this a real chance to give back.”

Other candidates in the full-time URI master of business administration program provided business analysis and planning for:

• The Eight Women project at the Southside Community Land Trust in Providence;
• The RiverzEdge Arts Project in Woonsocket and;
• The Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corp.

The group that worked with the Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation’s Sloop Providence developed a corporate training program that would use the sloop, a replica of the original vessel that fought in the American Revolution.

According to the student team, which consists of Meganne Atkins of Newport, Jon Egan of West Kingston, Diane St. Laurent of North Kingstown and Patrick Thomsen of Narragansett and Germany, corporate training, which includes team building through obstacle course participation, is a $62.5 billion industry with a growth rate of 10 percent.

Unlike other programs based on physical challenges, the Providence offers training while the vessel is under way. In other words, the central part of the training and team building would be sailing the sloop.
The students proposed a full-day training program that would include a traditional classroom experience in the morning, and a shipboard experience in the afternoon.

“I was extremely pleased with the work and the caliber of the students,” said Rob Hofmann, executive director of the Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation. “This group had a beneficial mixture of age ranges, with young people possessing optimism and excitement and other more mature students bringing business and life experience to the project. Basically, I provided them with financials, some history of the organization and they ran with it.

“I was very impressed with the final business plan,” Hofmann said. “I have already informed Professor Rosen of our interest in participating next year.”

Ray DePasquale, executive director of Cookie Place, which operates a wholesale and retail bakery and café, was seeking to replace its state funding by doing business with private clients.

“All of the students were very hard working, and we brought Mina in as an intern to implement the plan. She is energetic and enthusiastic,” DePasquale said.

Other students in that team are: Yuyan Brady of Westerly, Matthew DeAngelis of Wakefield, Keith Elflein of Westerly, and Ronald Metcho Jr. of Newport.

MBA students Brett Bell of Cranston, Steffen Blasé of Narragansett, Alisha Krupski of Barrington, Kathleen O’Donnell of Middletown and Yonin Senouvo of Kingston proposed a membership initiative to boost revenues for RiverzEdge, an after-school and summer apprenticeship program led by successful artists. Student participants produce and exhibit works in a range of media and styles and they sell products and obtain commissions from commercial clients.

Another team, made up of Thomas Gardner Jr. of Warwick, Amanda Hanaway-Corrente of Warwick, Anne-Sophie Meyer of Paris, France and Robert Wodok of Narragansett, worked with the Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corp. The agency provides affordable housing and community development programs, such as homebuyers’ education programs.

The students who assisted Southside Community Land Trust, Eight Women project to sell organic fertilizer are: Marcus Bennett of Saunderstown, Suzanne Bade of Kingston, Hendrick Meyer of Germany and Jennifer Fitzgerald of Pawtucket.