Students in the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration recently completed high-impact business development and entrepreneurship projects for several small businesses in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Aiming to help the community with its ongoing economic revitalization efforts, the Pitt Business students completed their work in fall 2018 as part of the Service-Learning in Organizations course in the Certificate Program in Leadership and Ethics. Developed by the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership, the course is designed to provide classroom instruction on ethical leadership and real-world experiences through client-based consulting projects.
“Homewood has many dedicated nonprofit and business leaders who are working hard to write the next chapter in the community’s story. Pitt Business and the Berg Center were proud to work with local businesses on these projects and were inspired by the amazing impact these entrepreneurs are having on the community,” says Audrey J. Murrell, associate dean of Pitt Business and director of the Berg Center.
Over the course of a semester, the Pitt Business CPLE students worked with two organizations: the Bible Center Church and the University’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE). Through the IEE’s Community Power to Prosper Program, the students worked with a number of small businesses.
Led by University of Pittsburgh sociology professor John Wallace, the Bible Center Church is engaged in several innovative startup ventures. It operates the Everyday Café, which bills itself as Pittsburgh’s first completely cashless coffeehouse and community gathering place. Organic fair trade coffee and freshly made sandwiches are salads are on the social enterprise’s menu.
Some of the cafe’s food is sourced from the Bible Center Church’s second entrepreneurial venture: the Oasis Food Farm and Fishery. Located nearby in Homewood, the venue is a solar-powered aquaponics operation that raises fish and grows vegetables and herbs. Oasis Food also puts on educational programs for local youth on urban agriculture and healthy eating.
The Pitt Business CPLE students developed a business plan for the Oasis Center and conducted a market segmentation analysis for The Everyday Cafe. The students’ market plan for the cafe also included best practice assessments and an expansion plan for the cafe’s future plans for catering and a commercial kitchen.
In addition to these projects, the Pitt Business CPLE students also completed a service-learning project for the IEE’s Community Power to Prosper program. The students provided consulting help for six small businesses in the IEE’s urban and community entrepreneurship program.
The students provided market segmentation and business development recommendations for Bonus Tire Service Center (auto services), Ramah International Service Enterprises (foreign language instruction), and Scrip T’s (inspirational apparel). Additionally, the students provided social media strategy for Everday’s a Sundae & Cafe (food services), First Lady Line (online accessories store), and McCali Manor (bed and breakfast).
The Berg Center is a partner in the University of Pittsburgh’s plan to develop Community Engagement Centers in Pittsburgh. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has described the centers as one-stop shops with dedicated staff who know the community, know the University, and are committed to working together with residents on uplifting projects.
Since 2004, Pitt Business students in the CPLE program have contributed more than 16,000 hours of service in more than 100 projects in the community.
“At the Berg Center, our mission is to create research and education that has an impact on the community. These projects in Homewood gave our students a means to effect meaningful change in the community,” Murrell says.