Boosting Small Businesses
Alex Garcia and Sean Roe ’15
SCU undergraduate business students help business owners to make improvements most fitting their needs and their customers.
The Leavey School of Business first began the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative in January of 2012. NPI “provides opportunities for students to contribute to, and learn from, businesses, individuals and organizations in low income neighborhoods in the San Jose area around issues of economic prosperity”. NPI goes full circle for both students and the community, providing a mutually beneficial relationship; community members gain unique business insights from students, and students gain hands-on knowledge outside the classroom.
The Program Manager at NPI, Jackie Schmidt-Posner, first spearheaded the project in Fall of 2011 in hopes of pairing Santa Clara students and their classroom knowledge with the real-life scenarios of local businesses. The program’s goals “are guided in connection with the University’s strategic plan, specifically objective two, Engagement with Silicon Valley. NPI ultimately enables students to:
- Increase learning, service, and research opportunities with Silicon Valley corporations, institutions, and communities.
- Promote Jesuit values in ways that enhance the humanity and common good of the Silicon Valley community”.
Jackie has high hopes for the future direction of NPI. Just recently, during the winter and spring quarters of 2014, the program took on a partnership with Wells Fargo Bank and the Center for Employment Training (CET), specifically with the Small Business Renovation Grant program. In this project, SCU student teams worked with CET construction students to develop and implement plans for improving five small businesses in San Jose. Jackie openly encourages any ideas and feedback with regards to the program. Jackie’s background of “more than 20 years supporting students to learn and contribute through service-learning and community engagement activities at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University” explains her unique insight into the program. Jackie shares, “I love being back at SCU and collaborating with so many talented students committed to using their education for social justice.” Her passion for the program is apparent through her excitement and dedication.
Within the NPI program, participants have the opportunity to apply be a fellow. Fellows are students who participate in internships with NPI’s community partners. A total of five students are awarded the opportunity each year. Fellow Sean Roe discussed with us what NPI means to him.
Sean truly stands behind NPI’s values and mission, making his reasons for being involved with the program a no-brainer. Sean shared that he likes that the realness of the program, “NPI is a very real way that the school can reach out to the community. I like being a part of something I believe in. All it does is really positive and mostly just action”. Although one of the many reasons for business students to be involved with NPI are the tangible business experiences the program provides, for Sean, more than anything, he is propelled by the social justice aspect of the program. Sean interns in San Jose Council member Sam Liccardo's Office and also works with other members of District 3. Through NPI, Sean has gained a real understanding of government, legislation, and what it takes to drive change. From office work to actually immersing himself into his district’s neighborhoods, the diverse number of roles has helped Sean strengthen a wide variety of skill sets. NPI brings SCU’s Jesuit mission to life. Sean encourages other students, “you are part of a larger community and NPI is a great way to actually get out there and have some practical involvement with the community”. Other Fellows include positions working with nonprofits and Washington Elementary School.
Read more about the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative.
Alex Garcia is an intern with SCU's Athletics & Recreation and Sean Roe ‘15 is majoring in OMIS and minoring in Spanish/ International Business