Net Impact gives members many opportunities to get involved within the community. Whether serving on a non-profit board or doing a project in sustainability for a few weeks, our members have the chance to build their resume and gain valuable hands-on experience. Find more information about our two main initiatives, Board Fellows and Service Corps, below.
The purpose of the Service Corps is two-fold: 1) to provide local businesses and organizations with needed resources to assist them with sustainability challenges and opportunities, and 2) to provide members with the opportunity to bring their education into practice, while giving them relevant work experience. Volunteers consult on projects related to finance, marketing, business planning, fundraising, strategic planning or new program development.
During winter break 2012, thirteen MBA and MPP/MPPA students participated in the Net Impact Consulting Challenge. Five different teams were each paired with a local organization and tasked with finding a solution for a real problem faced by the client. Participating organizations included Amherst Media, Celia Grace, Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics, PV Local First, and WooFood. Teams worked during the winter break meeting with their client, conducting research and generating recommendations. On January 19th teams met at Isenberg to present their findings to a panel of judges, and each team's final score was based on their Executive Summary, Presentation, and Client Satisfaction. Nick Russo and Kyle Lunt won the Consulting Challenge with the work they did for Amherst Media. Our thanks go out to Steve Gross, Fran Hutchins, Kristin Leutz, Angela Lussier, Cynthia McHale, Alan Wolf, and the 2012 Net Impact Board for making this event a success!
In 2011, Service Corps took the form of the first Sustainability Consulting Challenge! Teams of two from Isenberg and the Center for Public Policy and Administration were given problems or challenges faced by businesses in the Pioneer Valley and worked to provide a solution based on the company's needs. The teams had six weeks over winter break to work with their businesses before coming together to present their solutions in a case-competition style presentation. Local business professionals and UMass professors judged the competition and gave teams feedback on their work. Through this competition, students were able to practice their consulting skills by working directly with clients, put classroom skills to use by coming up with creative and sustainable business solutions, and gave a pitch to a group of knowledgeable judges.
In 2010, several members of Net Impact took advantage of the winter break to work on a Service Corps project with a focus on the institution of a Green Revolving Loan Fund. Throughout the semester, they worked conjunction with the Sustainability Coordinator on campus and the Student Government's Association Environment Committee. They were thrilled that the University's Climate Action Plan was been approved as of January 14, 2010!
A revolving fund addresses a major roadblock in campus greening: high initial costs make many sustainability measures difficult for the university to finance, despite the fact that these projects often have long-term cost savings. This fund also capitalizes on the long-term profitability of sustainability projects by covering these initial costs while securing the return they produce for future initiatives, making such projects much more feasible.
The benefits of such a fund are threefold: it reduces the negative
environmental impact of the university, it saves the university money,
and it educates and empowers students. With bold foresight, the Class of 2010 set a goal to designate
their class gift of $40,000 as seed money for such a fund.
In 2008, seven graduate students from Net Impact UMass Amherst spent their winter break volunteering as "pro bono" consultants for the Western Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH).
Across the three-week period, the Net Impact team, which included six MBA students from the Isenberg School of Management and one MPPA student from the Center for Public Policy & Administration, worked closely with the DMH to detail the cultural and linguistic competencies that currently exist in health and mental health facilities in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties.In addition to interviewing key individuals at mental health facilities across these three counties, team members worked to identify "best in class" practices in cultural and linguistic competence that already exist in the mental health network, as well as to develop a forward-looking "Action Plan" for the Western Massachusetts DMH and its community partners.
At the conclusion of the project, team members presented a four-stage plan to help the DMH improve its ability to effectively communicate and interact with the various ethnic and minority groups that live in western Massachusetts. Among other things, the team's final report provided detailed demographic information on Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties, a list of federal funding sources for cultural and linguistic competence programs, and a list of recommended community contacts to help administrators pursue a more focused approach to the issue.
To read the full press release, click here.
In 2007, six members from the University of Massachusetts' new Net Impact chapter volunteered through most of January, consulting for non-profit trendsetter ServiceNet Inc, one of the largest human service and mental health agencies in Western Massachusetts.
The team conducted a series of six survey and interview sessions with groups of staff-level employees to solicit feedback on the integration of a new electronic medical records system called eHana, then led two formal presentations at ServiceNet central and submitted a 36 page report detailing findings and recommendations for top management including CEO Susan Stubbs, who commented on the high quality of this consultation. "These students achieved a depth of understanding of our operations that was truly remarkable, given the short time-frame of this project," said Stubbs. "Not only were their insights right on the money, but they zeroed in on problem areas that it might have taken us months to uncover." At the end of the consultation, she asked if ServiceNet could be put on the list for future consultations by Net Impact.
To view a picture of the 2007 Service Corps team, click here.