The Action Learning Project

Strengthen Community & Students

Thanks to Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business MBA students:

  • The Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center in Bridgeport and Danbury has a concrete strategy to increase funding and build its donor database
  • Operation HOPE in Fairfield has a feasible plan for creating added employment opportunities for homeless adults
  • The Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield has new, creative options for growing and marketing profitable ancillary services like outpatient physical therapy and adult day care

A semester-long action learning project that benefits an area non-profit is part of the two-credit the capstone of Sacred Heart’s dynamic, 36-credit Action Learning ProjectMBA program.

Guided by faculty, the project is the final, and very critical step in earning an MBA degree because it requires students to put into practice, within a real-life, organizational setting, the many business concepts, management techniques, communication strategies and other skills they’ve learned since entering the program.

“For me, it was an exciting and rewarding way to end the program, which exceeded all of my expectations,” said John A. Sayour, a certified financial planner at New York Life who earned his MBA from Sacred Heart in 2012 and, during his course of studies, spent time at Sacred Heart’s European campus in Luxembourg.

The non-profit agencies that benefit from these projects share Sayour’s enthusiasm. Students, who work in teams, are responsible for identifying the agency they'd like to work with, they often have strong feelings for the work that non-profit performs. That means that in addition to getting a top-notch business education experience, they become invested in the work.

“We were lucky to have their help,” said Operation HOPE Executive Director Carla Miklos about the four students who, after developing a market survey and investigating funding possibilities, presented the agency with a three-year employment and financial plan. “They were like a team of consultants, helping me put my ideas into a format that would be useful in moving our goals forward. They were great to work with, held themselves to high standards and delivered a professional product.”

Sacred Heart’s Center for Nonprofits, founded by the Welch College of Business, helps students identify appropriate agencies. Over the past decade, 44 non-profits have benefited, and more than 120 projects have been completed, including the creation of marketing plans and materials, case statements, websites, financial studies, strategic and administrative plans and more.

Students are responsible for all aspects of the project they undertake. They perform all needed research, design, implementation and management, and then evaluate it at the end. They also present Welch faculty with an e-portfolio that demonstrates their learning, along with a personal and professional self-development plan.

“The program truly is a godsend for non-profits working with small budgets,” Miklos added. “The students get a different work experience from their regular jobs and an opportunity to use their skills to do good. The organization gets the benefit of committed students and faculty dedicated to helping solve a problem. For Operation HOPE, it couldn’t have been a better match. The students at Sacred Heart are amazing.”

Organizations interested in requesting assistance through an MBA action learning project can contact Sacred Heart’s Center for NonProfits or call the MBA office at 203-416-3512.