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Grad students partner with members to advance social enterprises

Graduate students from the Boston College School of Social Work recently presented their projects on social enterprises as a part of their Creating and Sustaining Social Enterprises course – the culmination of the seventh iteration of the Providers' Council's Great Idea! program to support new and expanding social enterprises at member organizations.

What started as a contest evolved into an RFP format beginning in 2016, raising the interest in partnering with graduate students at local colleges and making the it a more competitive process. This year, seven organizations submitted proposals, and four were selected to work with the student groups in the class, including New England Village’s Colchester Neighborhood Farm, Casa Myrna, Cardinal Cushing Centers and Pine Street Inn’s iCater.

The students presented their projects to the class and the Providers’ Council’s Manager of Member Engagement Ella Froggatt on December 7th. Through site visits, meetings and market research, the students helped the organizations create a marketing plan for their social enterprise goals. They worked in groups of five or six and presented on the organizations’ mission and history, goals for creating or expanding the enterprise and what challenges they have to get there. They prepared business and marketing plans, financial and budget estimates and other resources and ideas for each of the organizations.

At the end of each presentation, they asked classmates for other ideas and feedback about how the organizations can achieve their goals. Final meetings with the primary contact at each organization were scheduled for the week of December 11th to go over their findings and recommendations to move forward.

It was apparent that the students enjoyed working on these projects and learning more about the organizations and their services. Many were excited to share how these enterprises not only support clients, but the local communities as well.
Information about the 2018 Great Idea! program and RFP will be available in late spring.