When Master of Business Administration (MBA) students Otoniel Collins and Leslee McCoy agreed to help Hope Charitable Services develop a marketing plan for one of their new community initiatives, the duo thought they would be donating a few hours of service that would ultimately earn them course credit. But, what these Regent University School of Business & Leadership (SBL) students did not realize was that their work would not end when their course credit was complete.
In summer 2016, Collins and McCoy began Marketing 630, a required course where students work with a “real world” organization to analyze marketing data and develop a marketing plan. Around that time, Hope Charitable Services in Portsmouth, Virginia, contacted SBL to see if any students were available to work with them on just such a project.
The students were matched with Hope through their professor, Dr. Greg Stone, and they immediately got to work. Initially, the students were asked to analyze the organization’s Real Estate for Hope project, created to address needs of the Portsmouth community pertaining to poverty. The duo conducted research on local demographics, as well as current programs and government assistance already in place to meet their needs.
“Such real-life projects not only help the client’s organization, but provide the student with a track record of experience that can be a competitive advantage in a job interview,” explained Stone.
After compiling their research, the students presented a marketing plan that was used in the launch of RE4Hope LLC, a program designed to provide sustainable, affordable housing solutions for the poor. The first “Hope House” opened on May 1 and has already gained the attention of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Collins, who has one year left in his MBA program, was immediately captivated by the work, because it showed him ways to combine his business acumen with his faith. “It has been a desire of mine to utilize business for community development,” he explained. “This project was a dream come true for me, because it is something I want to do in the future.”
And, for Hope, Collins’ and McCoy’s work enabled their vision to become a reality. As the business continues to grow, they are eager to see more students like Collins and McCoy get involved.
“Not only do I want [Regent students] to help me and my staff and our community; we want to help them,” said Bishop Frank Allen, founder and director of Hope. “Help them learn how to live their values out among the poor, how to use their influence to help the poor, and to not be afraid of the poor. [Our goal is] that when they finish their education and move on, they will feel comfortable enough to link with a church or nonprofit in a poor community.”
Their course ended months ago, but Collins and McCoy have stayed involved with Hope Charitable Services, continuing to provide marketing support through web development, social media input, and even developing crowdfunding opportunities for the recent “20,000 Blankets for Hope.”
“The experience I have of working with Hope gives me tangible evidence of my ability to develop marketing plans that I can place in the hands of future employers,” said McCoy, who graduated from Regent earlier in May. “I have a steadfast confidence in my ability to change the world as a Christian leader.”