It’s an MWCC tradition. The week before the fall semester ends, Professor Emeritus John Reilly’s Strategic Management Capstone class presents a marketing plan for a local nonprofit organization. This year, six students dressed in business attire, gathered at the MWCC Leominster campus to give their ideas to one of the area’s newest nonprofits, Clear Path for Veterans New England. Founded in 2017, Clear Path NE provides a wellness-based community center to support returning veterans in reconnecting with their communities.
Acting as business consultants, students in Reilly’s class began their work with Clear Path NE in September at the suggestion of Shelley Errington-Nicholson, Director of the Stephen M. Brewer Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement at Mount Wachusett Community College. “Clear Path provides a great service to the community while also providing a wonderful learning opportunity for our students. They truly mentor our students and help prepare them for a lifetime of commitment to service,” said Errington-Nicholson.
The students remained in close communication with Clear Path NE throughout the semester. Some of them even ran in the Journey Home 5K road race to benefit veterans in November. Interacting directly with Clear Path NE staff and with the veterans they serve taught the students “more than they’d learn just by reading a textbook” about developing a marketing plan, said Professor Reilly. He added that it is important for our students to have an authentic experience while also giving back to the community.
“Everyone learns differently,” added Errington-Nicholson. “For those who learn by doing, there is no better option than service learning because it also benefits our community.”
Diane St. Jean, Business Development and Grants Program Manager for Clear Path NE, attended the presentation and received a printed and bound version of the strategic plan. She thanked the MWCC students for their consulting services and praised their recommendations to add a food pantry, supplemental transportation services, and a meeting space for local substance abuse recovery support groups. St. Jean praised the students’ months’ long commitment to the organization. Without hesitating, student Katana Rodriguez said, “I’d do it all over again.”
Mount Wachusett Community College students’ association with Clear Path NE is the latest in a series of partnerships that serve the needs of both nonprofits and students. “Over the years, we have partnered with Ginny’s House, Catholic Charities, the Spanish American Center and others to provide them with a comprehensive strategic plan which would have cost them thousands of dollars had they hired paid consultants,” said Errington-Nicholson. “Our relationship with Clear Path NE is truly reciprocal and we view them as equal partners in our students’ learning experience.”
To find out how to become a nonprofit partner to an MWCC student or class, visit https://mwcc.edu/campus-life/brewer-center/community/
To learn more about MWCC’s business program, visit https://mwcc.edu/academics/degree/business-administration/