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Darla Moore School of Business

Moore School program intersects business with nonprofits

Oct. 15, 2019

The Business and Community Leadership Fellows program familiarizes selected Moore School students with the business of nonprofits. The students in each cohort are placed with a nonprofit organization in Columbia where they volunteer for a minimum of four hours every week over two years. During their junior year, they develop and implement a business project to help their organization with possible inefficiencies or provide hands-on assistance. Working with a nonprofit also allows students to satisfy one of the requirements for USC Graduation with Leadership Distinction in several of the GLD pathways. This year, four juniors are beginning to implement their business projects for their respective organizations. 


Analisa Callender joined the BCLF program because it gave her the opportunity to serve and learn more about the Columbia community beyond USC.

An operations and supply chain and finance double major in the Moore School, Callender was drawn to the nonprofit sector of business because philanthropic organizations have the ability to make a large impact with a small amount of resources.

“I admire the passion behind following a mission and vision,” Callender said.

In fact, the mission is what drew Callender to her partner agency, Home Works—a Christ-centered nonprofit organization that provides home repair services for low-income homeowners while mentoring youth volunteers who help with the renovations.

“I love that, outside of home repair, [Home Works] also focuses on showing young adults how they can serve and make an impact in their communities,” Callender said. “Meeting the homeowners truly humbled me. Some are living with holes in their roof or floor or not the best heating situation, yet they’re so grateful, so kind.”

Callender plans to use her knowledge of Excel to create databases for Home Works that will reduce the time it takes construction managers to pull supply and site leader lists for work sites.

“This database will have pre-set lists of the construction equipment needed for specific projects and help construction managers match site leaders to projects,” Callender said.

 She said this is important because it will give construction managers more time to work on other important tasks like previewing homes and preparing for workdays. She anticipates this model will allow construction managers to spend an hour per week on supply and volunteer preparation work, when they used to spend about three hours per project.

Callender said she enjoys her time volunteering at Home Works because she learns something new every week.

“It is hard to put into words how much I have learned in the short time I have been a member of BCLF,” Callender said. “But the most important thing I have learned is that simple things can leave a big impact.”


William Jordan, who is studying marketing and real estate in the Moore School, first learned about the BCLF program during a freshmen orientation session hosted by Dean Peter Brews.

“I applied to be a member of the BCLF cohort because I was a leader in various clubs in high school, and I’ve always been passionate about volunteering,” said Jordan, who is also pursuing a certificate in music for organ performance. “I thought BCLF would be a great way to stay connected with volunteer and service opportunities in the Columbia community.”

Jordan is partnering with Columbia’s EdVenture Children’s Museum for his project. He said he has always enjoyed working with children and grew up going to the EdVenture Children’s Museum in his hometown, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so he was excited to be placed at the Columbia EdVenture campus.

“I have really liked working with the community leaders to make EdVenture more accessible for all children to attend, no matter their financial or social backgrounds,” he said.

For his project, Jordan plans to work to increase children’s attendance at the museum. In a multi-stage project for the management and special events departments, he is currently analyzing attendance data from EdVenture’s events over the past four years.

“This data will be used to better market future special events and survey museum customers, which will hopefully increase attendance,” he said.

Additionally, Jordan is collaborating with 25 other children’s museums in the U.S. to compare and improve the survey guests complete when they are leaving EdVenture. Through improving this data collection, Jordan plans to find new ways to engage the Columbia community.

Jordan wants to increase attendance at EdVenture Children’s Museum so other children can have the same positive experience he had when he was young.

“My favorite exhibit at EdVenture is definitely EDDIE,” Jordan said. “My hope is that, in the future, all Columbia-area children will have the opportunity to learn from and play inside the 40-foot-tall playground exhibit.”

Jordan said his experience with the BCLF program so far has shown him how different nonprofit businesses are from for-profit businesses.

“Nonprofits are collaborative in the way they are trying to achieve a goal versus a for-profit is usually only focused on making money,” he said. “I want to work for a nonprofit in the future because they seem more relaxed, and the atmosphere is great. It’s more energized.”


Erin Slowey decided to join the BCLF program because she intends to do nonprofit work in her career as an attorney. An economics and finance double major, Slowey has decided to enroll in law school but wants to continue serving the community in the future.

“I have a love for service and [applied to the BCLF program] with a desire to give back to my college community,” Slowey said.

She thinks the combination of service and business engagement through BCLF makes it a unique program at USC. Slowey has enjoyed doing the hands-on service while also applying her business knowledge in the nonprofit sector.

Slowey works with Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc. She said she really connected with MIRCI’s mission to assist clients with mental illnesses in areas like housing, health care, outreach and managing disability income.

“Every time I go to work, I see the impact that MIRCI has had on the homeless and those with mental illnesses in the Columbia community,” Slowey said.

Slowey has focused on MIRCI’s impact and is centering her BCLF service project on it. She is creating an input-output model that measures MIRCI’s direct impact, indirect impact and economic effects on the Columbia community.

These models explore MIRCI’s efforts in job placement, housing, health care and benefits assistance. Overall, her models showcase the money MIRCI is saving the Columbia community through its services.

She said she is excited about this project because it could potentially increase donations and grants MIRCI receives.

“I've learned the impact you make through working for a nonprofit greatly outweighs your personal profit,” Slowey said. “While working with MIRCI, I met a guy my age who was homeless, and it really had an impact on me and showed me that I’m privileged. It made me want to give back as much as I can.”


Marlena Zinn said she has always had a passion for community service. A finance and supply chain and operations double major in the Moore School, Zinn said she immediately sought out volunteer opportunities in Columbia during her freshman year because she missed her high school community involvement activities.

Zinn said she participated in nearly every Service Saturday, among other service events, during her freshman year. She easily fulfilled the service hour requirement for the BCLF application, so she decided to apply to the program.

“I saw the BCLF as the perfect way to intersect my two passions of business and service,” Zinn said.

Fervently believing in serving others, Zinn said all businesses have an obligation to give back to the community.

“I firmly believe that the success of the community and the success of a specific business have a symbiotic relationship, and one cannot succeed without the other,” Zinn said. “I think it is absolutely necessary for every business to research the needs of their own specific community and see how they can give back.”

With these ideals in mind, Zinn plans to develop a college outreach program for her Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands’ BCLF project. She said she was touched by the services provided by STSM and the prevention education the organization provides for children and adults around sexual assault.

However, Zinn found there was a gap in STSM’s prevention education and outreach for college students.

“Early prevention is incredibly important, but I think that it needs to be brought back to attention through college,” Zinn said. “In the past, it has been difficult for STSM to maintain a relationship with college campuses, and many college students do not know about the resources and support STSM has to offer. I want to change that.”

Zinn hopes this campaign can be applied not only to USC but to any college campus in South Carolina.

Zinn said she has enjoyed being a part of the BCLF program because she has learned what it means to be a leader. She has developed strong relationships with the other students in her cohort, and her partnership with STSM gives her the opportunity to apply what she learns in her classes to a real-life scenario.

She said she is also excited to complete the BB&T Emerging Community Leadership Development and United Way Board Member Development courses through BCLF.

“I am incredibly excited to take part and to learn more about what it means to intersect business and communities from people that have immense experience in doing so,” Zinn said.

Looking ahead

In addition to the junior BCLF cohort, three sophomores have recently joined the BCLF program. Brooke Daughtry, Hannah Pribanic and Margaret Polo have started volunteering at their respective nonprofit organizations. Daughtry and Pribanic are working with the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands, and Polo is volunteering with United Way of the Midlands. They will begin developing and implementing their business plans in fall 2020.

-Erin Mooney

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.