UK Students Work With Local Nonprofits to Find $100 Solution

Maddie Yaden’s team was partnered with the Allegro Dance Project, a non-profit contemporary dance company
Maddie Yaden’s team partnered with the Allegro Dance Project, a nonprofit contemporary dance company.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 4, 2021) ­— Allyson DeVito, senior lecturer in the School of Information Science in University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, tasked more than 50 students in her CIS 300: Strategic Business Communication classes with finding a solution to a local nonprofit’s problem. The catch was that they only had $100 to make it happen.

DeVito partnered with The $100 Solution, a nonprofit organization that works towards making a sustainable impact around the world. Students are provided with just $100 and five guiding principles: partnership, reciprocity, sustainability, capacity building and reflection to come up with their solution. 

Student teams partnered with nonprofit organizations in the greater Lexington community to work on $100 Solution Projects. They conducted Zoom meetings with the organization to find out about their history, what they do, who they serve, their needs, how the pandemic has changed things and more.

DeVito arranged for students to partner with 10 local organizations: Girls on the Run, The Nathaniel Mission, The Ronald McDonald House, The Refuge Clinic, TOPSoccer, Allegro Dance Project, Ashland Terrace Senior Living Community for Women, International Book Project, Urban Impact and Step by Step.

“We know many people and organizations have faced difficulties during the past year because of the pandemic, and the goal of The $100 Solution organization is to make a sustainable difference by improving some aspect or solving a problem,” DeVito said.

DeVito also coordinates and teaches CIS 112, an accelerated composition and communication course in the college, where she introduced the $100 Solution project back in 2017. This is the first year the project has been introduced into the CIS 300 curriculum.

“Since the team project is a major assignment in the course, I had the idea to introduce The $100 Solution project because I thought business students would enjoy working with these organizations, learning about them and some of the issues they face and then figuring out how to solve a problem using $100,” DeVito said.

Students presented their final projects via Zoom to the nonprofit community partners and the $100 Solution Board of Directors during the final week of class. Each presentation outlined the background history of the organization, a problem at hand and how each team will utilize their $100 to solve that problem.

“This project really opened my eyes to how nonprofits work and showed me how $100 can be spent in various ways,” said Maddie Yaden, a junior accounting major. “I’m used to maximizing revenue, and during this project I was able to see that play out in a real-life situation. We used every amount of money we had, down to the last dollar, in advertising.”

Yaden’s team was partnered with the Allegro Dance Project, a nonprofit contemporary dance company that provides children with special needs the opportunity to take dance classes. By focusing primarily on advertising, her group is hoping to spread awareness of Allegro’s upcoming July dance performance. Increased ticket sales will help Allegro’s bottom line and help them move forward post-pandemic.

“As a small, still relatively new nonprofit organization, $100 is a big help to our modest advertising budget — and could have a significant long term impact by helping us reach more children with specific needs through our Inclusive Dance Outreach programming,” Jeana Klevene, director and founder of Allegro Dance Project, said. “This project has provided valuable practical learning experience for students and encouraged partnership and philanthropy with the nonprofits in their community.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.