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College of Business Alumni

Young Professionals at McDonald's turn to the ELC:
Students to build financial modeling tool for non-profit

When the Young Professionals Network (YPN) at McDonald's Corporation heard about the NIU Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC), the members jumped at the opportunity to raise funds for an ELC project to help Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The YPN offers programs and leadership opportunities to its 300 members supporting three pillars: career development, networking, and philanthropy. The YPN has worked with RMHC in many ways before, mainly volunteering at a local Ronald McDonald House, but this is the first time it has been able to support a valuable business project. "This is a unique philanthropic opportunity," shares Chris Gundersen, YPN co-chair and IT Project Leader. "We can help the RMHC business practices and procedures, in addition to helping NIU students gain exposure to working with a large organization. The YPN has a similar goal for our members. We want young professionals at McDonald's Corporation to have opportunities to enhance their business skills."

This fall, a team of six ELC students will work with a faculty coach on a project to design a new financial modeling tool for RMHC. The current financial modeling tool is complicated and detailed. Local RMHC Chapters are required to use the tool when they are going to either expand a Ronald McDonald House or build a new one. The tool helps to determine whether they will be able to afford the expansion costs, as well as the additional operational expenses. It also offers the Local Chapters a comprehensive vehicle for long-term financial planning. The ELC students' mission is to design a new, user-friendly modeling tool that will accomplish the same goal, but is much easier to understand and complete.

The ELC students will face the same challenges that many YPN members do - being assigned a project they have little or no experience with. Rachel Williams, YPN co-chair and Creative Services Production Coordinator, describes the ELC partnership as giving the YPN an opportunity to invest in two of its main core values - developing people and giving back to the community. "All of the proceeds from our programs and events this year have gone towards funding this project. During networking events, fundraisers, and lunch-and-learns, we have been approached by many YPN members who are NIU graduates and former ELC students thrilled about this partnership. Everyone is excited for the project."

Do you have an idea for an ELC project to support your group's philanthropic efforts? Contact Joan Petros, ELC Director, at jpetros@niu.edu.