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UAlbany Senior Leverages Skills Gained at UAlbany to Develop Successful Nonprofit

Maxwell Morgan found a way to combine his entrepreneurial spirit with a strong desire to help high school student groups’ fundraising efforts. The enterprising UAlbany senior developed GradUShare, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides live-streaming of high school commencement ceremonies, and allows student groups to use the resulting DVDs in its fundraising efforts. Dwindling school budgets, Morgan said, provided him an opportunity to pinpoint a market challenge and remedy it.

UAlbany student Max Morgan
UAlbany student Max Morgan credits his classes in economics and political science for helping him develop the skills to turn his concept into reality. (Photo Paul Miller)

GradUShare empowers high school students to tap into their own business and entrepreneurial skills. Morgan works with faculty mentors and student leaders to determine a fixed price for commencement ceremony DVDs. Student clubs then sell the DVDs to friends and family, yielding a profit for the group.

"There is currently no service like GradUShare available to schools," Morgan said. "At a time of economic instability, K-12 school budgets are tight and cutbacks are rampant. A partnership with GradUShare provides a fundraising engine for student groups, and creates lasting memories for schools, students and families."

Using skills gained in his economics and political science classes, Morgan developed the business concept in his junior year at UAlbany and launched pilot programs with Whitehall High School and Galway Jr./Sr. High School.

The fundraising results have been staggering. Students are yielding much higher profits than traditional fundraising methods -- all at no cost to the school. GradUShare is currently reinvesting 90 percent of its revenue back into the schools and their surrounding community - 65 percent is donated directly in cash, with another 25 percent used for service maintenance.

Within GradUShare’s first year, the company doubled its projections, enabling Morgan to forecast growth this fall. Both pilot participants, Galway and Whitehall, have become official partners with GradUShare. Morgan believes that three other area school districts will soon come onboard.

Morgan credits UAlbany for helping him to build GradUShare into an operating entity. Not only did he gain valuable business skills through diverse course offerings, but he has been able to utilize facilities and multimedia equipment.

"GradUShare would not be what it is today without my UAlbany education," Morgan said. "There are so many aspects to running a nonprofit. You have so many responsibilities: legal paperwork, allocating finances, and even web design, all of which I’m accustomed to doing thanks to my education here."

Morgan looks forward to further building his GradUShare client base, and plans to pursue a masters degree in Public Administration upon graduation.

Learn more about UAlbany's programs in economics, political science and public administration.

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