Students in the Saint Francis Social Entrepreneurship Core 407 class partnered with Vision 2025, a volunteer-based organization committed to revitalizing the Johnstown region, to analyze economical struggles and propose action plans to improve the city. The students presented their findings and recommendations to
Vision 2025 leaders at
Schwab Hall on on December 11th.
Ms. Angela Balog, Professor at the
Shields School of Business, the class has worked closely with Vision volunteers throughout the fall semester. Students began by meeting one-on-one with
capture teams for Central Park Square, Gallery on Gazebo, Inclined Plane Trails, Historic Buildings, and Antiques and Craft Fairs. To understand the needs and challenges of the community, the five teams participated in events and engagements in Johnstown and surrounding areas, and spent hours at the sites.
“I’m proud of the students’ work this semester,” said Ms. Balog. “The purpose of these projects was for our students to gain resume-building, real-word experience while contributing the Vision’s grassroots efforts to help revitalize a local area. Their work is a win for the both the partner and the students.”
Ryan Kieta, a Vision 2025 community developer and principal of land planning and urban design firm
Real Design Inc. of Johnstown, attended the students’ final presentations. “This course implemented a really impressive model for education through community engagement in Johnstown,” he said. “The students were able to integrate into their various capture teams in such a short period of time, using their varied backgrounds to help with everything from needs assessments to marketing plans to research and analytics.”
Students from a variety of different majors and geographic backgrounds brought unique perspectives and skill sets to the projects. The groups used the Theory of Change model to provide research on each capture team’s social impact and value, activities, and resources. They presented transition plans, and plan to continue to work with the Vision team in the future.
"It's always refreshing to have new people inject their ideas and perspectives into a project like this,” said Michael Cook, Inclined Plane Trails Capture Team Leader. “When you spend as much time on a project as we have with the Inclined Plane Trails, you tend to see the project with a set of blinders on. The Trails group helped me to see this project through sever fresh sets of eyes. The St. Francis students went well above what I had expected and were fantastic to work with."
The Shields School of Business community outreach course is one of many at Saint Francis.
"Community partnerships are mutually beneficial to our students and partners,” said Lisa Georgiana, Director of the
SFU Center for Service & Learning. “We have several community-engaged (CE) courses in many different disciplines at Saint Francis University. CE courses help bring learning alive for our students, invigorate faculty approaches to teaching, and help community partners."
The University is looking forward to continuing and possibly expanding its partnership with Vision 2025 through community-engaged courses, and connections with more faculty members.
Mr. Kieta is eager to partner with SFU students again. “Vision 2025 and Saint Francis are committed to refining the impact model in the coming semesters so that these projects continue to have a lasting impact on development issues in Johnstown, and the education of future students at SFU.”
Community Engagement at SFU
With accredited undergraduate, graduate, and online degrees, the Shields School of Business affords students every opportunity to obtain a high-caliber, student-centric and values-based business education. Our graduates have the knowledge, skills, confidence, and experience needed to succeed personally and professionally.
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Vision 2025 is a volunteer-based organization that has created a vision around bettering the Johnstown region. While being a relatively new movement, it has already collected an impressive amount of members, of all ages, who are ready to support the area.
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