MBA Entrepreneurs Raise $10K for Charity in 3 Weeks

The UAlbany Weekend MBA Class of 2017

Weekend MBA students concluded their 22 month academic program by giving back to the community. They raised more than $10K for local charities while learning how to develop new social ventures. The project was assigned through the fast-paced four-week class, “Entrepreneurship & Creativity,” taught by Standish Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Bill Wales. The hands-on approach allows students to gain appreciation for what it is like to be an entrepreneur.

Pop-Up Ventures

Each entrepreneurship team of working professionals created a “pop-up” fund-raising venture to benefit a charity of their choosing. They designed, marketed and sold a variety of products tailored to each of their charities including blankets, bracelets, coffee cups, copper mugs, and dog treats. Wales commented that the students “admirably rose to the challenge and short timeframe provided to put their tremendous skills to work. They were able to identify and test possible fund-raising ventures that in some instances, their charities may continue to use as fund-raising tools well into the future.”

Inspiration to Implementation to Profit

When KimMarie Percey ’17 learned about Things of My Very Own, an organization providing crisis intervention services for abused and neglected children, she was determined to take action to support the organization. Their final course in entrepreneurship provided that opportunity.

Her MBA teammates rose to the occasion. PJ Uppal ‘17, came up with the idea to sell blankets after hearing that Things of my Very Own provides mattresses for abused children, many of whom escape their circumstances with only the clothes on their backs. Their venture, Blankets of My Very Own sold blankets to go with those beds.  For a donation, sponsors received a blanket.  

As a manager for National Grid, Percey attends a lot of meetings. She said she “hijacked” her meetings to introduce her colleagues to Things of My Very Own and raise funds for Blankets of My Very Own, her reach extending into New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Ohio. As a result, National Grid stepped in to match donations. The team also used a local radio DJ and television news to promote their cause. They ended the challenge with more than $5,000 netted in three short weeks. In addition, sponsors donated 128 blankets for the use of children served by the program.

The Working Professionals Who Made Blanket of my Very Own a Success

Adam Fahrenkopf, web developer, BluSky Digital
Peter Keigley, vice president and relationship manager, KeyBank
Jennifer Pearson, training and development manager, Hunter-Ross, LLC
KimMarie Percey, manager of maps and records for New York and New England, National Grid
PJ Uppal, senior auditor, New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General

“It’s very neat that these working professionals started the program to make a difference in their lives and ended by making a difference in so many others,” noted Weekend MBA Program Director Don Purdy.

A Sampling of Other Weekend MBA Projects Benefiting Charities

· Animal loving HomewardHound raised money for Forever Home Dog Rescue of the Capital District by baking and selling dog treats.
· Inspired by a child with renal cancer, Helping Hands raised funds for the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders by selling travel mugs featuring children’s artwork. The mugs sold out in three days.
· Heart Strings sold bracelets made from violin strings to raise funds for the Empire State Youth Orchestra’s Chime afterschool music program for underserved youth. After meeting their $500 goal in 2 hours, they doubled it.

Professionals from every industry and profession enroll in the University at Albany Weekend MBA to learn best business practices and acquire the tools, knowledge and strategies to advance their careers. Students earn an MBA in less than 2 years. Included in the program is a week-long international trip to learn about global concepts and practices. The summer of 2017 finds Weekend MBA students in Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.