UND Nonprofit Leadership Students Learn While Giving Back

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UND Nonprofit Leadership Students Learn While Giving Back

This year a student group on campus has continued to make its presence known in the Grand Forks community through helping area high school students rock their prom. UND’s Nonprofit Leadership Student Association (NLSA) hosted their third annual prom dress collection and sale the last weekend in February this year. NLSA collected over 200 dresses ranging from red cocktail dresses to dramatic ballroom gowns donated from students and community members. The campus group even teamed up with the Forx Roller Derby to collect dresses at the girls’ A Bout to Remember at the Alerus Center.

High school students from all over the area showed up to try on dresses in UND’s Hugh’s Fine Arts Center, changing in choir practice rooms and finding deals to squeal about. NLSA worked hard to keep prices low, many dresses were priced at only $10 or $25, ranging up to boutique dresses of higher quality from $100 to $150.

“It was gratifying to see so many girls light up when finding a dress in their favorite color in their size, and one that was affordable. Dresses are expensive, so this allowed students that might not otherwise be able to afford ‘prom dress shopping’ a chance to actually choose a dress they loved,” said Rachel Smerer, a student in NLSA.

The event was an undisputable success; over 75 dresses were sold in the two-day sale, providing 75 girls with affordable proms this year. The proceeds of the sale benefit the student group NLSA and St. Vincent of Grand Forks. St. Vincent is a nonprofit organization founded after the flood of 1997 as a means of coordinating and unifying services among the Catholic parishes in Grand Forks. St. Vincent offers numerous programs for those in need. Each year NLSA chooses a local nonprofit organization to support through partnership and fundraising. NLSA choose to support St. Vincent of Grand Forks as this year’s annual organization, due to St. Vincent’s continued commitment to helping those who need it most in our community.

About the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association

NLSA is a student organizational branch of UND’s Nonprofit Leadership Program which offers both an 18 credit Certificate Program and a 21 credit Minor. The program is accredited by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (formally American Humanics), a national organization that establishes competencies and affiliated with nonprofit leadership program in colleges and universities. The program is primarily directed toward students who want to acquire skills and enhance their qualifications for service in the nonprofit sector.

In acquiring these skills, students participate in NLSA community service and fundraising events, often partnering with local nonprofit organizations and businesses. In the fall semester the students kicked off a food drive to support the Backpack Food Program, which provided take-home meals and snacks for local students who were eligible for free and reduced lunch in the Grand Forks public school system. NLSA partnered with the school district, Northland’s Rescue Mission and Great Plains Food Bank. NLSA students collaborated with Hugo’s Grocers to obtain enough food to provide for 100 students this year.

Looking Forward

NLSA is now planning a spring furniture drive that would benefit New Americans arriving in the community. This will be the second year the students worked with New American Services to obtain furniture and household items for families taking refuge in Grand Forks, with little or no personal belongings.

The organization hopes to expand its presence in the community, as well as educate its Nonprofit Leadership Program students on skills needed to work as effective leaders in the nonprofit sector.

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