'Big Idea' Pays Off

Nonprofit students rewarded for 'Big Idea'

Monday, January 29, 2018 -- In early January, a group of UNI students attended the Alliance Management Institute (AMI) in Kansas City. The program is organized by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, which is comprised of 40 different colleges and universities, including UNI.

UNI was able to take 41 total students with 39 of them being undergraduates.

Students receiving $1000 checkThe institute is a place for students from these different schools to receive their nonprofit professional credential. But it is also where students can present their ideas and research projects, and along with these presentations comes awards. Students from UNI received four awards from two different areas, first and second place in Undergraduate Research and first place in Best Practices in the Nonprofit Sector.

This year, the institute also implemented a new contest called “What’s the Big Idea,” sponsored by KPMG. This contest was created to challenge students to come up with innovative and interesting strategies to address important issues.

This year’s topic was diversity, equity and inclusion in the nonprofit sector. UNI entered the contest and was asked to present their “Big Idea” on the main stage. At the awards ceremony, UNI not only won the top prize and received $500 from KPMG, but they were also informed that someone in the crowd agreed to match that $500 dollars.

The total haul of $1,000 will be used to support their “Big Idea.” UNI’s “Big Idea,” is for students to be trained in how to build relationships with people from a variety of backgrounds, and how to build cultural competencies. UNI students will also produce supplemental training materials so that agencies and organizations across the Cedar Valley can use them to train their volunteers. These volunteers will then have a better understanding of the people they are serving in the nonprofit sector.

Julianne Gassman, associate professor of leisure, youth and human services, serves as campus executive director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

She said, “The students felt really validated that they are doing work that matters. That their presentations are based on actual research they have done for agencies.”

This is not the first group of UNI students to bring home hardware from the AMI, but the awards offer validation of the effort, time and energy that the students put into earning this certificate. Gassman also said, “The experience that students have at [the] AMI makes them feel like they are prepared and that they really do have the power to make a difference in the sector and in people’s lives.” 


by Peyton Husmann, student, Office of University Relations