Philanthropist helps business students learn to give

· 3 min read

Philanthropist helps business students learn to give

Dean Kathy Farrell and Nebraska philanthropist Rhonda Seacrest
College of Business
Nebraska College of Business Dean Kathy Farrell and Nebraska philanthropist Rhonda Seacrest

A popular and meaningful class that gives Nebraska College of Business students hands-on experience with philanthropy will be offered in the fall and spring semesters, with assistance from philanthropist Rhonda Seacrest.

The Strive to Thrive Lincoln grant program, which annually awards $10,000 to winning proposals developed by Lincoln and Lancaster County nonprofits, is the main class project of Leading People and Projects (Management 411). Under the guidance of Amber Messersmith, participating students manage a grant application process from beginning to end, selecting projects to receive awards.

“Teaching others to support nonprofits and to be philanthropists is something my late husband, Jim, believed in and shared with others by leading through example,” Seacrest said.

Seacrest is a longtime community volunteer with a passion for education, who gave the Nebraska Business program an undisclosed amount to assure its continuity and allow more students to participate.

“This course allows students to learn about the mission and goals of area nonprofits, to visit them to get a better understanding about what they do and who they serve and to award funds that directly impact the community,” Seacrest said. “There is only positive that comes to the nonprofit that receives funding — for the students who learn how to give back and for the donor who gets to see their money doing both.”

Strive to Thrive classroom
College of Business
Amber Messersmith teaches Leading People and Projects, the Management 411 course that conducts the Strive to Thrive Lincoln project.

The Learning by Giving Foundation provided full funding for the class when it started more than five years ago with Colleen Jones, now professor emeritus of management. Messersmith began teaching the class two and a half years ago, knowing that additional funds would be needed to supplement the Learning by Giving Foundation’s partial funding through fall 2020.

“Rhonda Seacrest’s gift provides instrumental continuity to a course that influences students as professionals and citizens of their communities long after they have completed their college careers,” Messersmith said. “Rhonda is modeling exactly what we learn about in this course — uncovering needs and finding ways to meet those needs, knowing the eventual reward benefits the community rather than the donor.

Kathy Farrell, the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business, said Seacrest has answered a critical need.

“This course is integral in our curriculum as it teaches our students the role of nonprofits in a community and the importance of giving back, and the number of students taking this course continues to grow,” Farrell said. “Our Nebraska business community is grateful to Rhonda Seacrest for the generous gift, which will enable the Strive to Thrive Lincoln program to continue and the community to benefit.”

This year’s Strive to Thrive Lincoln awards will be announced during a public reception at 4:30 p.m. April 18 in Howard L. Hawks Hall. RSVPs are required for the event.

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