DENTON (UNT), Texas – If University of North Texas College of Business student Jeff Chandler and his 24 classmates do well on their latest class project, they could get more than a good grade — they could potentially help thousands of children across the United States.
Chandler and his classmates are developing national marketing plans for a Big Brothers Big Sisters basketball fundraiser — called Little Big Shot — to be held in at least 10 NBA franchise cities across the nation. Money raised from the event will help Big Brothers Big Sisters in its mission of matching volunteer mentors with children facing adversity and providing long-term mentoring support — helping children lead better and more successful lives.
The 25 students have split into five teams, and each team will present a marketing plan to Big Brothers Big Sisters executives at 5 p.m. April 29 (Monday) at the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Irving office, 450 E. John Carpenter Freeway. (Media are welcome to attend.) While these students are helping children across the country, they’re getting hands-on, practical experience that they can use in their careers – and they’re getting constructive feedback from top-level executives at a national nonprofit.
“This is a very big deal,” said Chandler, who is working on a master of business administration degree in strategic management. “This project is helping the community on a national level. I had to take a step back and realize how big this was.”
Mike Gade, principal lecturer of marketing who teaches the class, regularly arranges for his marketing classes to create marketing plans for companies – which have included Cash America, Rent-A-Center, AT&T and small companies.
“The big advantage to his course is he gives them an analytical perspective used in the industry,” said Dr. Jeffrey Sager, chair of the Department of Marketing and Logistics at UNT. “That’s valuable to the MBA. It’s not something out of the textbook. You’re dealing with business owners, franchises and C-level executives.”
Throughout the semester, Gade meets with each team of students to review their research and strategies. When students make their final presentations, faculty members judge teams on whether they accurately and properly executed the project in accordance with marketing principles. Top executives from Big Brothers Big Sisters will grade students on whether they can use the plan in their business. Executives from non-competing businesses are invited to the presentations to give feedback, too.
“Understanding how large corporations think and make business decisions is valuable information and is worth a million dollars,” said Lawrence Norton, a student in the class.
Research shows that Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorships have helped children improve in school, behavior and self-esteem, and the list of kids waiting for mentors is growing, said Kelly Williams, vice president of marketing and communications for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We need to put our resources into raising money so we can get those kids off the waiting list and provide that ongoing mentoring support,” Williams said. “We are honored we can work with these extremely smart students at UNT and use their creativity in a practical way. They can see for years to come the product of their thinking.”
About UNT’s College of Business
With more than 5,600 students, UNT’s College of Business is one of the largest business schools in the nation and has been continuously accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International since 1961.
With 112 full-time faculty members, the college offers 17 undergraduate degrees, 24 master’s degrees and 10 graduate certificate programs. Five centers and institutes in the College of Business create synergy among scholarship, research and teaching. Classes take place in the new 180,000-square-foot Business Leadership Building, which opened in 2011.
Students enhance their learning experience through student organizations, study abroad programs, internships and the Professional Leadership Program to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's technological and global business environment.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships. Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The first-ever Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary, released in 2012, substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military, with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 100-year history. With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 630,000 children, volunteers and families. The organization is engaged in a nationwide search to reunite with alumni mentors, mentees, donors, and family, staff and board members. Learn more at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.