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Tuesday February 27, 2001

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UA club helps charities orginize business

By Emily Severson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA group first to provide free services

UA students have founded what they say is the first club in the country to use business-skilled undergraduates to offer free services that charities usually cannot afford.

Student Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations has grown rapidly from the ideals of the first three members to a group of about 80 after its last membership drive.

"We saw the need for involving bright people in our organization," said Jean Yates, vice president of operations and a management information systems senior. "Students who want to join have to fill out an application and go through an interview process."

Yates said founders recruited heavily from the UA business school because the workload requires business knowledge. However, she added that being in the business school is not a requirement.

"I joined SCNO because I saw it as a good opportunity to get a foot in the door of the business world and get hands-on experience," said Bob Harris, a business junior.

Student Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations' members break up into groups of about five to seven people to work with organizations to design and implement business solutions, Yates said.

The group's first project over the summer was with Pima Youth Partnership. They helped develop its first Web site and a technology training program for its employees.

Since the Pima Youth Partnership project, SCNO has received phone calls from more than 50 Tucson community organizations, Yates said.

The groups provide everything from information technology to managerial work and financial consulting, said Nikki Floyd, the club's director of corporations and a criminal justice and business and public management junior.

Some of the organizations SCNO is currently working with are Big Brothers Big Sisters, Parent-Aid, Third Street Kids and Healing Hearts, said Jeff Sitkowski, a finance senior.

SCNO is setting up a recruiting strategy for Big Brothers Big Sisters and a database for Parent Aid, Richards said.

Third Street Kids is also having SCNO set up a computerized database. They hope it will organize their internal information to cut costs and meet their contacts in a more efficient way, Sitkowski said.

Homicide Survivors is another group that has turned to SCNO.

"We are currently streamlining their information systems to improve efficiency and maximize the time they spend on community assistance," said Michael Deweerdt, the former leader for the project and a finance senior. "In addition, we are in the process of designing their Web site."

The organization has not used traditional fund-raisers to support themselves because they have been able to get donations from corporations, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, that have given money as well as sent professional consultants to train members, Yates said.

"I believe the organization will have a lasting effect on the community," said Noah Knauf, the club's president and an MIS senior. "It has a strong trickle-down effect. We are not only affecting the organizations but also any people who use their services."