Northwestern students partner with CNE

Northwestern students provide pro-bono consult to CNE

SCNO_CNEIt was a win-win scenario for Northwestern students and local nonprofit Childcare Network of Evanston this winter, as the Northwestern branch of Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations (NUSCNO) team selected CNE for a pro-bono consult on fundraising and employee health.

Cody Warner, NUSCNO’s team lead on the project, selected CNE in September to be the benefiting nonprofit and met with CNE Executive Director Andrea Densham to discuss topics.

The consult ended up focusing on two areas: what CNE can do to maximize local, corporate and foundation giving, and combat a recent study done by the Center of Disease Control that states health care workers rank below the national average in physical and mental health surveys.

The consult was completed and presented in December 2014.

“Andrea mentioned that foundation and corporation fundraising was something CNE was interested in, so we went through a number of steps to find out what sponsors could attract the most money,” Warner said.

After several team meetings and brainstorming sessions, they came up not only with potential current foundations and corporations that CNE could tap into, but a tool for CNE to assess foundations and corporations that might be future funding possibilities.

“We really came together as a team,” Warner said. “Those brainstorming sessions where we each talked about our research, and built upon it together, helped us put together something we were really proud of.”

The second part of the consultation was addressing what Warner referred to as “shocking” statistics related to the physical and mental health of health care workers. According to the study, health care employees in Chicagoland rank below the national average in both physical and mental health surveys.

“Some of those statistics were so high we were like, ‘Whoa, that’s an interesting thing to look at,’” Warner said.  “I think it’s critical for children, who are learning life-long habits at an early age, to have adults around them who reflect good habits.”

The NUSCNO team recommended that CNE implement the “Healthy for Life” initiative and facilitate mental and physical health conversations to break the cycle of declining health among health care workers in Chicago.

SCNO has chapters all over the United States, and Northwestern’s was created in 2007.

“The students get real hands-on experience learning about consulting that you can’t get in the classroom, and when you work with nonprofits like CNE, it’s a really rewarding experience,” Warner said. “And it’s not like we just do one project and then we never hear from them again, we continually work with them throughout the years.”

NUSCNO members go through a competitive selection process, and Warner said members are generally economics majors and those interested in going into consulting after graduation. Membership is dependent on the student’s completion of two projects each school year.

Story by Jamie Lynn Ferguson, Director of Marketing and Communications

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