Despite conventional wisdom, the axiom “You don’t get something for nothing” isn’t always true. It seems particularly untrue when college students provide communities with services on a pro bono or discounted basis in an effort to gain necessary experience.
For example, many dental schools have their students provide check-ups to children from low-income communities who don’t have a dentist. There are law schools that encourage students to offer pro bono legal services in the community to nonprofit organizations and low-income individuals who are in need.
Students nearing graduation at DeVry University leave a positive mark on the regional community and provide a pro bono service through their Senior Project course. During a six-month period, students are charged with identifying a project through a process that asks them to examine a local business or technical problem in the organizational context, develop a set of possible solutions and then select and implement the best solution.
In one DeVry University Senior Projects class, teams selected either the Inglis Foundation, an organization devoted to providing independence to the physically disabled, or the New Brunswick Education Foundation, a project focused on helping nonprofit organizations extend their reach within the community. Both teams implemented the management, technology and business concepts they learned in the classroom to improve the respective organizations’ internal processes and increase fundraising.
“Senior Projects provide DeVry University students with the opportunity to contribute to the community while applying technical and business knowledge acquired in the classroom to real-world situations,” said Forough Ghahramani, associate dean of DeVry University’s College of Business & Management.
Elsewhere, local organizations partner with colleges to provide much-needed services to local residents.
The Piton Foundation, a private foundation that helps low-income families in Colorado move out of poverty, offers free tax-filing services for qualifying families through its TaxHelp Colorado program. This year the foundation partnered with a DeVry University campus to help prepare returns. To be qualified to participate, the students trained for a month and passed the IRS certification test.
“The services that DeVry University students provide are instrumental in effectively helping us serve the local community and help families collect their earned tax refunds,” said Diane DiGiacomo, communications director for the Piton Foundation.