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My Work with a Nonprofit in Detroit Has Shown Me The True Power of Collaboration


By Grace Kendra, MM ’19

From the moment I was accepted into the Master of Management Program at the Ross School of Business, I started looking into opportunities that would supplement my academic studies and provide relevant experiences for my future career.

Whether my career choices would land me in the nonprofit sector or not, I knew a goal of mine was to be involved in aiding the missions of nonprofit organizations in the community where I live. The Board Fellowship Program appeared to be, and has been, the perfect opportunity.

Sari Klok-Schneider, my staff mentor; Marshall Hunt,
my board mentor; and me.  

Through the Board Fellowship Program, I was paired with the prominent, 100+-year-old organization the Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit. The organization’s primary function is to serve Detroit children during the holiday season with their “No Kiddie Without a Christmas” program. Each year, the Goodfellows distribute more than 30,000 gift packages to children between the ages of 4 and 13.

Through this partnership, I have been able to attend the Goodfellows’ monthly board meetings, committee meetings, and various annual events. Further, I am assisting the organization with a specific project, which is to strategize solutions to resolve their inability to attract and retain new and younger members to the organization.

While the organization provides a critical service to many Detroit families, the Goodfellows have seen a plateau in member acquisition. Without a clear line of succession, the Goodfellows are scrambling to find their next generation of leaders.

My mentors and I decided it would be best to conduct a SWOT analysis with key board members to analyze the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and consider external threats and opportunities. By identifying each, we were able to uncover key areas to focus on.

Once we completed the SWOT analysis, we scheduled a follow-up meeting to brainstorm solutions for solving some of the barriers. Now that we have identified practical solutions, I am in the process of assisting the Goodfellows in launching a few of these strategies before my time is up with them in May.

This opportunity has proven to be more valuable than I could have hoped for. I got practice applying my newfound business skills from the Master of Management Program and experience serving on the board of a nonprofit organization. The Goodfellows, on the other hand, received an external perspective to help solve some of their most pressing issues and assistance in developing a strategic plan for how to successfully evolve.

I strongly believe in the power of public and private sector collaboration and I look forward to using this experience as an example of how the two complement not only each other, but the communities in which they serve.

Learn more about the Michigan Ross MM Program