Humble Beginnings Get Big Break

Nonprofit minor stands out with national recognition

PROVO, Utah – Jan 20, 2017 – Since its humble beginnings in 2008, the nonprofit minor at Brigham Young University is better than ever—and now has the hardware to prove it. The program received the Campus Program Excellence Award during the Alliance Management Institute national conference last month.

“We have tried this before and put our heart into it,” says Brad Harris, recreation management professor and adviser to BYU's Nonprofit Management Student Association. “It was a feeling that after eight years of working hard we’ve been recognized for our great program and high quality students.”

Receiving this award was no small feat. The application involved a six-month process in which students created a video, wrote a letter of intent, and prepared a slideshow to present to a committee over a video conference call.

“One of my favorite angles that we took in our application was that our club and our minor are super awesome, but the students’ accomplishments are really what set us apart,” says Hannah Smith, president of the NMSA. 

BYU nonprofit minor students are also members of the NMSA and attend the AMI conference as a capstone experience to receive the Certified Nonprofit Professional credential. Many have made significant contributions in communities and across campus. Allegra Luft wrote a two million dollar grant for Utah Community Action; Stephane Akoki started his own nonprofit “Life Elevate” that works to promote self-sufficiency in the Ivory Coast; John Palmer is the president of Y Serve; and Shanelle Applegarth leads the campuswide Choose to Give campaign.

“We have seen a doubling in the participation of students and our enrollment has skyrocketed,” says Brandon Garcia, vice president of NMSA. “I’ve been seeing more students step up and personally want to make the program better compared to when I first started.” 

With this national award under their belt, BYU nonprofit students and faculty see continued growth and accomplishment in the future.

“Kind of like the growth of any organization, you start off and you have growing pains, but we’ve been around for eight years now,” Harris says. “People know who we are, students are beating down the door to join us, and we make tweaks each year to improve. It’s kind of neat that we’re being recognized for it.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

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BYU NMSA members working on their nonprofit minor celebrate the program's award.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Tessa Haas