Penn State Intercom......June 21, 2001

Student projects assist
nonprofit agencies

A course project in the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg has provided two initiatives for an agency serving disabled people.

Each semester, as part of his Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management class, Robert Russell, assistant professor of management, has student teams develop business plans for community organizations.

The students complete the business plan which includes data analyses of resources available for the organization, demographics of the target area and market potential. The students then compile their research results into a business plan. In the past year, two of Russell's classes have tackled projects for the Arc of Dauphin County, a nonprofit agency serving persons with disabilities.

The first challenge for the students was to develop a "greenhouse project" to create employment and learning opportunities for Arc. When completed, the business plan was presented to the board of directors. Linda Drummond, Arc executive director, reported some of the plan's components have been implemented. Area schools' special education classes will use a greenhouse as a learning lab and Arc is planning to enter into a contract with an area nursery to grow strawberries.

Arc found the experience of working with Russell's students so successful that it challenged the next semester's class to come up with a business plan for the agency's Camp Sertoma, a summer recreational day camp for residents of the area who are disabled and developmentally challenged.