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Informatics Students Team Up with Albany Law to Launch Digital Nonprofit Advocacy Guide

Included on the Nonprofit Guide website is podcasts produced at the New York State Bar Association headquarters. (Photo provided by Albany Law)

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 14, 2020) – A group of UAlbany and Albany Law students have teamed up to launch a new online resource that offers nonprofit organizations a guide to their advocacy and lobbying efforts.

Albany Law students taking a course on the law of social entrepreneurship taught by professor Ray Brescia came up with the “Nonprofit Guide” after receiving numerous requests from community-based organizations looking to engage in law reform and advocacy within their limitations as a 501(c)(3).

Before taking on the project, they knew that adding technical expertise would be essential to create a website that both offered valuable information and was easy-to-use. That’s when they turned to Norman Gervais, a professor of practice in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (who focuses on informatics) and four of his students for help.

The professors agreed that combining expertise offered the students a valuable opportunity to learn new skills outside of their own coursework.

“That’s one of the goals of the course — to see how a computer programmer thinks about these issues and for the computer programmers to see how lawyers think about and see these issues. It creates a great dialogue to understand how these things are developed,” said Brescia, in an interview with Albany Law.

“The tech is the tech. [Our students] get that. But seeing how effectively and efficiently they communicated, how they delegated tasks between each other, and how well they work together and how respectful they are of each other’s ideas — that was really awesome and important,” added Gervais.

The Nonprofit Guide website includes asked-and-answered FAQs, presentations, a calculator to determine a lobbying budget, and podcasts produced at the New York State Bar Association headquarters.

You can learn more about this project and hear from some of the students involved here.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.