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MBA students embody social impact, become first in nation for homelessness fundraiser

One-Year MBA students spent five nights on College Green raising awareness and funds for homelessness in southeast Ohio


During the last week of February, four graduate students from Ohio University's One-Year MBA program experienced five nights of homelessness, and with the help of their classmates, raised $4,788 for the Good Works Timothy House, a local shelter in Athens. 

Nicole Galli, current One-Year MBA student and vice president of philanthropy for the program’s Executive Leadership Development Team, learned about the 5 Days for the Homeless (5D4H) initiative in Ontario, Canada. After seeing its success, she brought the idea to her classmates and OHIO became the first university in the United States to host a 5D4H campaign.

For five days straight, the One-Year MBA sleepers continued to go to class as usual, but instead of going back to their apartments, they spent their nights on College Green and lived completely dependent on the in-kind donations from others. While they might’ve been prepared to leave technology behind, nothing could’ve prepare them for the physical toll this experience would take. 

“There are different things that are more difficult than you realize,” said Lamar Daniels, One-Year MBA sleeper. “You don’t have perspective on time or how physically exhausting it can be on your body to be out in the elements for so long.”

As sleeper Michelle Thomas put it, “I didn’t have the luxury to just go to my fridge and get something to eat.” This glimpse into the lives of the homeless is more impactful than we think. In 2017, The Timothy House provided more than 3,000 nights of food and shelter for 98 men, women, and children in southeast Ohio.

Each day, the sleepers and their classmates were motivated by setting a new fundraising goal. If their daily goal was met, a College of Business faculty member had to complete a dare – and they weren't holding back. College of Business professors dyed their hair orange, dressed up as cookie monster, joined them for a night outside, and even got a pie thrown in their face, all for a good cause.

With the support of faculty, staff, students and local businesses, the MBA cohort more than doubled their initial fundraising goal of $2,000; the response was overwhelming.

“The class of 2018 embodies the One-Year MBA program’s social impact mission; the cohort dedicated over 1,000 hours to the planning and execution of this eye-opening fundraiser,” said Tanya Barnett, One-Year MBA program director. “We’re especially grateful to the community and College of Business faculty and staff, who were incredibly supportive both in terms of time and financial generosity.”

OHIO’s One-Year MBA program goes beyond business curriculum to teach students about servant leadership and social impact as they prepare to become future leaders in the workplace. The 5D4H experience was nothing short of inspiring for the four students sleeping outside, the entire One-Year MBA cohort, and OHIO’s local community.  

“People that are just going through their day-to-day college lives that don’t take a minute to think about this, took a minute to think about this and that was really special,” said Zach Lazzaro, One-Year MBA sleeper.