Professors Gary Spring (UA School of Law) and Bob Chalfant (UA College of Business Administration) have incorporated a “Pay it Forward” service-learning/philanthropy project into their Legal Minefields of Entrepreneurism joint law/MBA class offered at The University of Akron. Through funding the UA Institute for Teaching and Learning received from the United Way of Summit County, the students had $2000 to award to a local nonprofit organization.
Six student groups competed for the $2000 grant. The student group who delivered the best presentation (advocating for the nonprofit they represent) won the grant. Judging the student projects were Judge Eve Belfance, Paul Perantinides (attorney), and Roger Read (philanthropist).
Presentations were given this past Thursday, Oct. 25, and the judges awarded the $2000 grant to Child Guidance and Family Solutions. This teams was led by School of Law students Lewis Bennett, Christian Gruner-Vazquez, Kenneth Bailey, and CBA student Kelly Loebick-Frasella. The winning team highlighted Child Guidance’s “sandplay therapy” room at their new building. This therapy uses large trays filled with sand and has the children display figurines, fences, structures and vehicles that often translate to the way they view the world. The sand itself is a healing and grounding medium and the placement of items allows for deeply expressive feelings to be displayed and discussed. This is a therapy that can be utilized with very young children and also with older individuals.
“I believe that students need not only learn about law and business but also about responsibility for their community at large and social entrepreneurism. Hopefully by working with nonprofits and seeing their necessary nature and good works the students will take this with them when they leave school. This may be the most important thing we help them learn. This program sponsored by the United Way is terrific experiential learning and is emblematic of the University’s goal of working to better the Akron community,” says Professor Gary Spring, director of the Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development (SEED) Clinic.
The five other projects presented that evening were:
OPEN M: OPEN M is an acronym that stands for Opportunity for People Everywhere in Need Ministry, and OPEN M's mission is to feed the hungry, care for the sick, nurture children, build families, and strengthen the community. In order to help provide care for an estimated 22,000 uninsured individuals in Summit County, OPEN M operates a free medical clinic that offers general and specialty medical care,dental care, eye care, and access to a retail-size pharmacy. OPEN M is seeking funding for the free clinic's Smoking Cessation Program. The funding will be used to purchase over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy medication. The goal is to create a tobacco-free environment at the free clinic and lower the health risks of OPEN M patients.
Safe Landing: A shelter for troubled youth between the ages of 11-18. The shelter takes in children through walk-ins, child protective services, and through the juvenile court. While at the shelter, the children are given a structured schedule and family-like environment. In furtherance of the family environment, the shelter tries to expose the children to both cultural and recreational activities. Whereas many children, in a normal setting, have the opportunity to visit a play, a museum, or simply go to the movies, these children often do not have that opportunity. Our research has shown that exposure to recreational activities results has positive effects on the social and behavioral development of children.
ACCESS: A holistic approach - mind, body, and soul - that attempts to fix the homelessness problem from the inside out. ACCESS is a unique organization - the only one of its kind in the regional area - that approaches homelessness in this way. We are going to seeking funding for one month of their stepping stones program, which is their 3-week program that tries to rehabilitate homelessness)
Mature Services: Since 1975, Mature Services, Inc. has promoted successful aging by providing services that support, strengthen, and empower older adults. Currently, the U.S. population is aging at a rapid rate, and the need for these essential programs has never been greater. While Mature Services, Inc. attempts to satisfy the increased demand, they are confronted with severe funding cuts that threaten their ability to keep pace. In order to bridge this gap, students in the University of Akron’s Pay it Forward program have developed a marketing plan to increase revenue through Mature Services’ Festive Food Catering business. By leveraging the Festive Food brand, the Pay it Forward group anticipates sustained growth that will support Mature Services’ mission for years to come.
Mental Health America: This is a nonprofit organization that is a part of Mental Health America which is a national organization. MHASC was established in 1956 and is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and achieving victory over mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and service. The primary goal of MHASC is to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness through education and advocacy. MHASC would use the Pay it Forward grant to buy a tablet, provide martial arts funding for the children, board games, and coloring books and other activity books. A tablet is desired for our non-profit organization because of the number of different programs that they put on involving education and advocacy. A tablet is best for this non-profit because of the portability of such an item and the ease of use connecting and presenting to people of all ages. Additionally, MHASC would like to allow the people that use their services to use this device because of the amount of applications available to help with mental illnesses.
About the SEED Clinic
The University of Akron School of Law began providing free legal services to the indigent in the late 1960s. The Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development (SEED) Legal Clinic was developed as an outgrowth of the original clinic to provide low cost legal assistance to emerging businesses in Northeast Ohio. The SEED Clinic is able to provide low cost legal assistance by using the SEED clinic to provide las students with the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience with real-world business issues. All work created by law students is reviewed by a licensed, supervising attorney. Learn more at http://www.uakron.edu/law/clinical/seed/ .
Photo Caption: (L-R): Lewis Bennett, Kelly Loebick-Frascella, Christian Gruner-Vazquez, Kenneth Bailey