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LeBow Students Win $2,000 in Consulting Case Competition

June 13, 2012

A group of Drexel LeBow undergraduate students participated in a nonprofit case competition that culminated with the presentation of their plans last week. Divided into three teams, the students worked hard all spring to formulate a plan to grow the nonprofit organization The Village of Arts and Humanities, located in North Philadelphia. Thirteen prestigious judges from the Philadelphia area listened to and critiqued the students’ plans for improvement and chose the winning team, comprised of students Karyn Peeples, Hieu Ha, John Cao, Yi Xie and Nathan Raiders, which took home the grand prize of $2,000.

The winning team’s plan was to create a sister nonprofit called HEARphiladelphia, which would be dedicated to revitalizing the North Philadelphia neighborhoods that surround The Village of Arts and Humanities. This affiliated nonprofit would focus on real estate development, economic development, youth leadership development, green initiatives, and housing development. Its mission is to “create a better community by enabling advancement through access to education and resources rooted in art, permaculture and sustainability.”

Made possible through a partnership with Drexel LeBow’s Dornsife Center for Experienced-Based Business Education and Center for Corporate Governance and sponsored by Firstrust Bank, the competition provided students the unique opportunity to perform as consultants, working with a client to provide a business-based solution for a local nonprofit.

Paul Jensen, associate dean for experience-based business education, says this competition served to teach the students many important lessons including the business of nonprofits and the importance of community outreach. “The students also benefited from working on a consulting project side-by-side with faculty who have professional consulting experience, as well as from the opportunity to present in front of what was effectively a corporate board.”

Patricia Connolly, director of the Center for Corporate Governance, says she was impressed by how eager these very prestigious judges were to participate. “The number of significant business leaders who accepted our invitation to be judges of this competition was overwhelming and very gratifying on many levels,” she says. “The men and women who volunteered to judge this competition are a microcosm of the talent devoted to community service in Philadelphia. Drexel intends to build upon this contribution of time and talent to make real progress in support of nonprofit enterprise in this region.”

In addition to visiting the The Village and studying the organization for the competition, a few of the students have since volunteered their time there. A check for $500 was presented to The Village on behalf of the winning team at the event.

Over the past 26 years, The Village has provided opportunity for community participation by involving residents in the revitalization of their neighborhood throughout the underserved community of North Philadelphia. The Village began with the transformation of a vacant lot into an art park created with and for neighborhood children. 

By working with residents to clean these lots, and provide access to resources and educational workshops, The Village has transformed these spaces into community-maintained assets. The Village has helped residents do this on a small scale, and has been identified by a coalition of community groups in Eastern North Philadelphia as the organization with the greatest potential to expand its capacity for serving a much broader public and area.

Competition Judges

Tim J. Abell, President, Firstrust Bank

Ellen Canan Grady, Counsel, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Sam Katz, History Making Productions

Brian T. Keech, Sr. Vice President and Exec. Director, Office of the President, Drexel University

James Kristie, Editor and Associate Publisher, Directors & Boards Magazine

Chip Marshall, Managing Partner, Stevens and Lee

Claudia McBride, Executive Director, World Affairs Counsel

Marc Nathan, CFO, Community Veterinary Partners

Peter A. Nolan, CFO, Firstrust Bank

Chuck Pennoni, Founder and Chairman, Pennoni and Associates

Pamela Porter, Senior Business Leader, Opportunity Finance Network

Stanley Silverman, Past President and CEO, PQ Corporation, and Chairman, Drexel University College of Medicine Board

R. Andrew Swinney, President, The Philadelphia Foundation

Jonathan Weller, Board of Directors, Penn Virginia GP Holdings and AMREP Corporation

Nancy Winkler, Treasurer, City of Philadelphia

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