Business Students Tee-Up New Plans for Local Non-Profit

A group of Mary Baldwin business students collaborated with First Tee Shenandoah Valley, a local nonprofit that helps area youngsters develop personal skills through the game of golf.

Every fall semester, Dr. Calvin Chung, associate professor of business, has invited local organizations to partner with his students in Business Administration 400: Strategy and Sustainability in Business Decisions.

This time around, MBU business students joined First Tee Shenandoah Valley, the local arm of a national organization that helps area children develop personal skills and build character with access to sport – in this case, golf.

What is sustainability in business?

In business, sustainability generally refers to the integration of “green,” or environmentally-friendly, practices into a business plan. More recently, sustainability has grown to encompass a business’ responsibility to its community. At MBU, business students are first introduced to business sustainability in BUAD 104: Sustainability in Business, which “Provides an overview of sustainability from the perspectives of business, economics, environmental/ecological studies, and sociology.”

Chung designed the course to expose seniors in MBU’s business program to real-world strategic planning and sustainable development issues. In turn, local businesses and nonprofits – including past partners the Staunton Innovation Hub, Peg’s Salt, and the Arcadia Project – get to benefit from students’ learning.. 

This semester, 17 students of business administration and arts management worked on strategic planning with First Tee to help advance their mission of integrating a life-skills curriculum with the game of golf, introducing children to an athletic outlet, and teaching them lessons for life.

Students collaborated with First Tee on improving various elements related to their business strategy, including finding local partnerships, enhancing volunteer opportunities, revamping social media strategies, and introducing additional fundraising opportunities. 

Jackie Peraza, a senior in business with a focus on sustainability, is one of the students working with First Tee. 

For me, if a business is profiting from a community, they should be able to give back to that community and keep the needs of the environment in mind.

“We broke up our class into four different groups: a fundraising group, a social media group, a partnership group, and a volunteer group,” said Peraza, who leads the student team tasked with streamlining the organization’s volunteer practices.

“We knew coming in that First Tee partnered with James Madison University and Bridgewater because they have golf teams,” she said, recalling how her team came up with an idea for a new approach.  

“We realized we could leverage resources like MBU’s clubs that have requirements for 10 hours of community service. This way we can help First Tee establish volunteer connections that have longevity.”

For Peraza, who is planning a future in law school and advocating for labor and immigration rights, business sustainability is always a top priority. 

Students presented their work to Tim Tattersall, executive director of First Tee Shenandoah Valley

“I think sustainability is looking at a company that is able to manage not only financial stability but also having a social impact,” she said. “For me, if a business is profiting from a community, they should be able to give back to that community and keep the needs of the environment in mind.”

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