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New Student Group to Help Nonprofit Organizations

For University of Iowa junior Jostten Sackitey, business school isn’t just about crunching numbers on a spreadsheet; it’s also about exploring opportunities and applying those classroom tactics to solve real-world challenges.

Sackitey is president of a group called Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations (SCNO) that hopes to provide business, marketing, and management strategies for nonprofit organizations around the UI campus. SCNO is a 10-year-old, nationwide network that supports local communities through itsservices. The Tippie College of Business chapter’s first project was the Eastern Iowa 10,000 Hours show last spring.

“The UI has been promoting the Iowa Challenge, and part of that is serving your community and getting involved,” said Sackitey, a finance and economics major. “SCNO provides an outlet for business students to get involved on campus and in the community.”

The group of seven volunteers operates and manages its own projects. After an application and selection process, SCNO awards one nonprofit organization a lending hand for the semester. This semester, SCNO chose a business operated by the School of Social Work called Wild Bill’s Coffeeshop.

Wild Bill’s is a 35-year-old coffeeshop located in North Hall. It began as a modest business with Bill Sackter, a man with a developmental disability, who sold cups of coffee for 25 cents from a closet. That modest business has since developed into a shop that continues to foster the memory of Bill, as well as break even financially. In efforts to keep the business strong, business coordinators looked toward other resources for help and launched a partnership with SCNO.

“My goal is to get a fresh perspective and since I don’t have a degree in business, I’m hoping this group will bring us some new ideas,” said Jefri Palermo, the development coordinator for the School of Social Work and supervisor of Wild Bill’s. “We will benefit from some fresh eyes looking at ways we can make the coffeeshop more sustainable.”

In the past, when Wild Bill’s was unable to break even, financial reserves maintained the business. But now, with tighter budgets, the coffeeshop needed to develop new strategies.

Wild Bill’s business embodied the kind of groups SCNO desired to work with. Wild Bill’s is considered a learning lab for social work students in a relaxed, nonthreatening environment where people with a physical or mental disability have a voice, Palermo said.

The consulting group will use the entire semester to come up with methods for marketing, inventory, and more. These methods will be presented to Wild Bill’s by the end of the semester. Although members of SCNO do not implement the strategies themselves, they provide informed and professional suggestions that the business may adjust and then apply.

“It’s not just about having a place where you can buy a great cup of coffee, but it’s also a very special place where there’s an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and have a conversation with someone who may look at the world differently,” Palermo said. “That’s what I’m passionate about—continuing just that.”

Other Tippie College of Business students on the team include Hemali Batra, Yu Guan, Ben Lockin, Alex Osborne, Stephanie Roesnau, and Matt Schlinz.


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