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Summer Assignment: Make a Difference

August 28, 2008
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The University of Miami School of Business Administration’s MBA Consultant to Non-Profit Business Summer MBA ConsultantsProject sponsored by Adam Carlin, MBA ‘94, principal of Bermont/Carlin Group, a local Citigroup Smith Barney affiliate, and the Business Ethics program with past support from the Citizens Board, had two eager participants this summer for the program’s third year. Each student was matched with a Miami-area nonprofit organization for a 10-week internship, becoming a professional business consultant using knowledge gained in the classroom to enrich the community. Alexis Alvarez worked with the Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami, Inc., researching grants and analyzing costs of various programs. Her main focus was a program dealing with adult survivors of domestic abuse, and she examined the funding necessary to support its components. Michael Nakash consulted for the Coconut Grove Collaborative — an organization established to develop affordable housing in areas recognized by the government as being the home to many low-income or unemployed individuals. He helped CGC petition a development company designing a $300 million complex to rethink its original plan.

Alvarez learned about the dynamics of a nonprofit office and saw firsthand how much a small office of dedicated people can accomplish when they put their hearts, minds and resources together. She worked directly with CEO Felicia Mayer, CFO Mario Medina and others at FCS. Over the course of the summer, she attended presentations where nonprofits meet to improve their business plans and discuss cutting costs, fundraising and financial management.

In trying to determine creative ways to cut costs and develop more efficient ways to utilize whatever monies were available, Alvarez became well acquainted with the grant system. Reflecting on her summer internship experience, Alvarez said “I would definitely recommend the Consultant to Nonprofit Business program to other students. It was enlightening and inspiring and taught me that I would like to stay involved with a nonprofit group in the future.”
Nakash is from Long Island, N.Y., but he quickly learned his way in and around the retail and residential areas of Coconut Grove. In trying to help CGC achieve its goal of influencing the developer, he learned a lot about politics and the public sector. He did research to explain the benefits and drawbacks that mixed-income housing can bring. He drafted proposals, attended numerous meetings, and organized marketing and education sessions for local residents and the development leaders. He also created a booklet to clarify how a community can gain an equity interest and take advantage of what results from it.

An urban neighborhood situated on or next to a prime real estate development spot obviously presents challenges. As Nakash sees it, however, “the whole nonprofit experience was filled with invaluable lessons I’m glad I had the chance to learn.”

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