01 Jun 2008


Alumni Clubs Put Skills to Work


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Nearly half of HBS’s 82 clubs and associations sponsor social enterprise programs that put alumni management and leadership skills to work on behalf of local communities and the School, according to a recent survey. Club activities fall into two broad categories: assistance for local nonprofits, and fundraising for scholarships to attend social enterprise-focused Executive Education programs or fellowships for MBA students.

While HBS alumni clubs worldwide have long been engaged in their local communities, their activities have ramped up this year as part of the Centennial Global Outreach Program, says Janet Cahill, associate director of Alumni Relations at the School. Taking HBS on the road for the Centennial, more than fifty faculty members will deliver special presentations to clubs in the United States and abroad. With faculty support, clubs also are hosting panel discussions, sponsoring nonprofit conferences, and organizing events that will raise money for HBS fellowships and scholarships as well as for local charitable organizations. Indeed, the Centennial has reinvigorated many clubs, with attendance at Global Outreach events exceeding all previous events for many clubs, notes Cahill.

Among the clubs that support nonprofits, the HBS Association of Southeastern New England and the HBS Club of Philadelphia have hosted nonprofit conferences for several years. These conferences provide nonprofit leaders with leading-edge thinking on planning and strategy as well as a forum for networking and sharing best practices. Following in their footsteps, several clubs this year are organizing their first-ever nonprofit conferences, including those in Atlanta, Charlotte, and New York.

This past winter, the HBS Club of Connecticut hosted a Global Outreach panel on the future of philanthropy moderated by HBS lecturer Nicolas Retsinas. More than 100 people attended the event, which highlighted the increasing synergy between the private sector and the philanthropic sector. Last November, the club inaugurated its Turbo Award with a $20,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich in recognition of its community programs.

The HBS African-American Alumni Association has a long-standing relationship with the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Academy in the South Bronx. Whether it’s working with Dell to provide classroom computers or mentoring students, the club is impacting the lives of more than eighty middle-school students each year.

The HBS Club of Austin organized a Centennial Global Outreach dinner last fall featuring a presentation by HBS professor Bill Sahlman. The club was able to donate $3,000 from the proceeds to Breakthrough Austin, a mentoring program that provides a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students.

In recognition of ongoing efforts, several alumni clubs recently received the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation Pro Bono Award for their commitment to providing volunteer consulting services to nonprofits in their communities. HBS alumni nationwide contribute more than $4 million in pro bono services each year through a network of club-based programs. The longest-running effort, the Community Partners program of the HBS Alumni Association of Northern California, has put more than 500 alumni to work for over 250 nonprofits throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986.

Among the clubs that raise money for Executive Education scholarships, the HBS Club of Chicago since 2004 has sponsored two leaders annually to attend the School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) program. Each year, more than sixteen clubs send upward of fifty participants to this program.

The Windy City club also annually sponsors eight Chicago Public School leaders to attend the joint HBS/Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Public Education Leadership Program (PELP).

To learn more about your local club, visit www.clubhub.hbs.org.

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