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Ohio State students partner with Columbus nonprofits

Kelsie Fields, a third year in international development and Italian, works with City Year Columbus as a part of the Nonprofit Immersion Program at Ohio State. Credit: Carlee Frank | Lantern reporter

Kelsie Fields, a third year in international development and Italian, works with City Year Columbus as a part of the Nonprofit Immersion Program at Ohio State. Credit: Carlee Frank | Lantern reporter

Each year, City Year Columbus hosts the Red Jacket Ball, the organization’s largest fundraising event. This year, Kelsie Fields, a third-year in international development and Italian, is helping City Year prepare for the event.

Fields and her 11 fellow upperclassmen each are paired with one of six local nonprofit organizations, including City Year, through OSU’s Nonprofit Immersion Program.

“We are working with City Year Columbus, I Know I Can, American Lung Association and Neighborhood Services Inc., just to name a few,” said Lauren Tyger, the program’s adviser. “They all serve different areas and purposes within the Columbus community.”

Students are paired up with the nonprofits based on their own preferences, as well as organizational need, Tyger said.

“We also take into account what the nonprofit needs,” Tyger said, “For example, if they need someone with marketing skills, and we help pair up students in that way, too.”

To be accepted into the program, students apply online in the spring. This year’s deadline was March 4. Once selected, students go through an interview process, during which the program advisers get to know the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Fields was one of the students selected in the previous spring. She has since completed the first part of this three-part program: a public affairs course called Intro to Nonprofit Management. She is currently partnering with City Year Columbus and attending biweekly cohort meetings.

Fields said that students normally act simply as nonvoting board members, but she desires to work more in-depth with City Year Columbus.

“My partner and I try to go a little bit deeper into the organization,” Fields said. “We do a lot of event planning, and we’ve gone to development workshops about grant writing. We have also done graphic-design work for them and attend biweekly meetings.”

In the fall, students work to identify a beneficial project for the nonprofit, and in the spring they work on implementing that project. Fields said that depending on the size of the nonprofit, students might simply jump on projects already in motion.

“One group is making a cookbook for the Broad Street Food Pantry, and we are working on City Year’s annual fundraising gala called the Red Jacket Ball,” Fields said.

Fields is working to secure items for the Red Jacket Ball’s silent auction.

She said her favorite part about working with City Year Columbus is the people with whom she collaborates.

“I get to work with people who are involved and passionate about nonprofit work and who share the same values that I do,” Fields said.

Fields also said that because nonprofits have smaller budgets and less staff, it is oftentimes an all-hands-on-deck all-work environment, and she truly enjoys that.

Both Fields and Tyger agree that the Nonprofit Immersion Program is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience, and most program alumni, Tyger said, have gone on to work in the nonprofit sector.

“Hopefully they would take away skills from the program and the experience they gain with their partnerships so that they can be a really engaged citizen to the community,” Tyger said.

Fields said she is excited to move forward with the program and to continue working with City Year Columbus.

“I hope that the immersion program gets more attention because it is one of the best things that I’ve done since coming to OSU,” Fields said.

The Engaged Scholars logo accompanies stories that feature and examine research and teaching partnerships formed between the Ohio State University and the community (local, state, national and global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. These stories spring from a partnership with OSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The Lantern retains sole editorial control over the selection, writing and editing of these stories.

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