Selfless service | Mays Impacts

Mays MBA Student Leads Aggie Team That Earns 3rd Place in International Case Competition Focused on Addressing International Food Production Problems

Ryan StaplesA Texas A&M University interdisciplinary team led by Mays Business School Full-Time MBA student Ryan Staples ’22 earned third place in the 2021 Norwegian Business School Global Case Competition. The Aggie team–which included Danette Philpot, Garrett Brogan, and Meikah Dado, who are graduate students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communications—earned this international recognition by proposing an innovative use of technology to improve food production in Uganda by empowering women.

The Mays-sponsored group competed against 85 teams from 60 top-tier universities to generate game-changing solutions to food production issues involving obesity, malnutrition, and climate change. These topics will be discussed at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in Fall 2021.

Uganda

Once the case problem was released, Texas A&M’s team decided to focus on Uganda, which Brogan had visited through his studies. That focus was important because more than one of every three Ugandans suffer from chronic malnutrition.

This issue is compounded because the nation has a significant gender inequality issue in its food production system. Eighty percent of the food consumed by the nation’s residents is produced by women. However, for every one pound of food produced by a woman in Uganda, a man can produce three. “Our whole idea is how can we bridge this knowledge and gender gap between men and women so that the country of Uganda can produce more food,” Staples said. “With 80% of the food producers only one-third as productive as their counterparts, there is a huge area of opportunity. “

Tech Solution

The team proposed providing the women farmers with electronic tablets filled with agricultural knowledge so they can become empowered. Using technology allows the nation’s women farmers–who often do not attend extension programs because they are doing the farm work and caring for the children and elderly—to have ready access to extension resources, such as videos. “This is supplying them with knowledge so they can help themselves,” Dado said. “It is a bottom-up approach.”

The team projects that if this initiative is implemented over a 10-year period, 3 million women would be empowered. This would lead to a 30% increase in overall agriculture productivity and a $450 million boost to Uganda’s GDP.

Interdisciplinary Aggies

The Aggie team, which was the top-performing team among North American and South American colleges and universities, benefitted from the support by Mays Business School faculty members Dr. Daniel Usera and Dr. Mary Lea McAnally and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Dr. Jack Elliott, a professor and senior scientist at the university’s renowned Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. These faculty members were able to provide feedback before the team moved into the semifinal round of the case competition.

Staples believes that the team’s interdisciplinary representation was critical to the Aggies’ third place finish. “Our success was truly a testament to the power of synergistic team effort,” he said. “The true kudos go to my three new friends in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who shared this case competition journey with me.”

His counterparts agreed and appreciated Staples’ openness to learning about agriculture and his facilitation and leadership skills. “Ryan had knowledge in so many different ways that we didn’t have, but we had that knowledge of the agriculture aspect,” Dado said. “We were able to come together, and I do not think we would have been as successful if we hadn’t been interdisciplinary.”

Go to Market Plans

The Aggies are now seeking ways to bring their idea to the marketplace. They have presented to the Borlaug Institute’s director and senior faculty, who have offered positive feedback and are considering including the project in future grant proposals. In addition, Staples is using Mays’ contacts to pitch to Fortune 500 companies about corporate funding. The team also may receive an invitation to present at the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

These types of high-impact learning experiences that challenge Mays students to solve real-world problems are aligned with Mays’ vision to advance the world’s prosperity. “Case competitions offer students the opportunity to practice being transformational leaders through combining theory, research, and practical application while working in a team,” said Mays Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Arvind Mahajan. “We feel so strongly about the power of these learning experiences that Mays collaborates annually with Humana Inc. to host the Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition, which challenges 1,300 U.S. masters-level students to analyze the company’s data to identify innovative healthcare solutions.”

Ultimately, Staples credits Mays Full-Time MBA program for helping to polish his leadership skills to be able to successfully focus the team’s efforts. “The program helped me first to identify my leadership strengths, and then taught me how to leverage them. Apart from that, I have had the opportunity to lead team projects among my peers since last July,” Staples said. “The combination of understanding the unique skills I possess and the practical opportunity to practice those skills has been invaluable to my development as a leader.”

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Health Care, Mays Business, MBA, News, Perspectives, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

Over the past few weeks, our world was upended by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and communities of every size began to grapple with a “new normal”. Businesses, governments, and families are scrambling to find creative ways to interact with their customers, constituents, and peers. Along with the health crisis, we’ve seen our retirement accounts plummet, friends lose jobs, and experienced an unprecedented level of uncertainty. While many of us are asking questions about how we can help others in our communities, there have been beacons of hope in the form of a global philanthropic response. The spectrum has ranged from billionaires stepping up with massive financial commitments to people singing from their balconies. Across this entire spectrum, the heart of generosity and philanthropy is shining through.

Philanthropy, at its core, is about the love of mankind. It’s looking out for the person next to you in times of trouble. It’s caring for the vulnerable when others disregard their wellbeing. It’s moving towards those that are on the margins. It’s loving people. As we grapple with the reality of a global pandemic, I am confident we’ll continue to see boundless and sacrificial generosity. If you are sitting there thinking that philanthropy is bound to the ultra-wealthy, you are wrong. Philanthropy right now is as simple as walking next door to check on your neighbor (standing 6 feet apart of course!). So, here are some tips for you to be philanthropic and generous with your time, treasure, and talent amidst the uncertainty of -19.

  1. Be honest about your own needs. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do because it requires a significant level of vulnerability. There is no shame in needing help or requiring assistance though. Before looking outward, take a moment to assess your, or your family’s, situation. Do not hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or your local nonprofit sector for assistance.
  2. Be honest about your capacity for financial generosity. Maybe you are someone that has been consistently generous with what you have. Maybe you are just now getting started in your journey towards generosity. Either way, now is the time to act. Consider making a financial gift to your local community foundation or relief fund. If you can’t find anything similar to that, then giving to your local food bank or health clinic will go a long way in helping alleviate some of the immediate burden our communities are facing.
  3. Be purposeful with the “small things”. Share stories of others that are uplifting people in their communities. Write encouraging notes to nursing home residents. Call friends that work in healthcare and are risking their lives every day. Check on your neighbors. There are numerous “small acts” that make a difference.
  4. Be hopeful. There is no doubt that this is going to hurt for a period of time, but we will get through this. I am hopeful that through trial and tragedy, our relationships, families, and communities will emerge stronger.

Generosity and compassion are critical to a thriving and healthy society. Our response will resonate through generations as people look back and see that in the middle of uncertainty, we were active in how we loved the people in our communities.

Categories: Donors Corner, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Programs, Selfless service, Spotlights, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Texas A&M

(COLLEGE STATION, Texas / August 16, 2019)  Mays Business School’s Strategic Philanthropy course, in partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation, is currently accepting applications from local area nonprofit organizations for the Community Grant Program. To be eligible, an organization must be a nonprofit entity based in the Brazos Valley and have at least one full year of operation. Applicants must submit a completed application detailing their proposal for funds to be used the following year. Applications can be submitted through the Strategic Philanthropy website at mays.tamu.edu/strategic-philanthropy. The deadline to submit applications is 5:00 PM on Friday, September 13, 2019. The 2019-2020 Community Grant recipients will be announced in December.

Kyle Gammenthaler, Lecturer and Coordinator of Social Impact Programs at Mays Business School stated, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation as they help provide resources for a dynamic educational experience while impacting the local community. We encourage all eligible organizations based in the Brazos Valley to apply.”

ABOUT THE STRATEGIC PHILANTHROPY COURSE AT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

The Strategic Philanthropy course began in the 2015-2016 school year as a unique educational experience for undergraduate business students. Since then, we have distributed almost $500,000 in funding to local community and international nonprofit organizations thanks to partnerships with various foundations and individuals. We will continue this tradition by partnering with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation in the upcoming fall semester to manage the Community Grant Program.

Some of the past recipients of the Strategic Philanthropy course have been Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach, BEE Community, Northway Farms, Health for All, Elder Aid, Boys and Girls Club, Down Syndrome Association of the Brazos Valley, Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, Mercy Project, SOS Ministries, Family Promise, K9S4COPS, Mobility Worldwide, Rebuilding BCS, Children’s Miracle Network, BCS Marathon, and Voices for Children.

 

# # #

Grant and Media Contact:

Kyle Gammenthaler

Lecturer

Mays Business School

kyleg@tamu.edu

979.845.1037

 

Categories: Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Strategic Philanthropy

The feeling never gets old, Kyle Gammenthaler says.

Helping Mays Business School students understand the nuts and bolts of philanthropy by giving away up to $75,000 themselves is always thrilling.

Kyle, who teaches the Strategic Philanthropy class as coordinator of the Certificate in Nonprofit and Social Innovation at Mays, told a crowd of about eighty who gathered for the semester’s check presentations on April 29 that it all started in 2015, when he had “a brilliant idea—that it would be great if students gave away money in a class.”

And this spring, the course’s students, funding recipients, and donors celebrated a huge milestone—passing the $500,000 mark in total giving to organizations in Bryan-College Station.

From $0 to $500,000 in Three Years

With support from Mays administration and generous donors—notably The Philanthropy Lab, a Fort-Worth-area organization that supports about twenty such classes around the country—students provided the first round of funding in spring 2016.

Now, thanks to additional donors, notably the VanLoh family and Cheryl Mellenthin, the class is one of the most successful of its kind in the country.

The VanLohs began donating after seeing the transformational experience their daughter, business honors graduate Grace VanLoh ’19, had as a student in the very first class.

For Cheryl Mellenthin, visiting with Mays students on a Philanthropy Friday was all it took.

“She texted me that night and asked, ‘Where do I send the check?’” Kyle says.

John Sharp ’72, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, attended the April 29 celebration and later said, “The Mays Business School’s philanthropy program is a great example of putting the Aggie values to work.”

Former Student Body President Amy Sharp ’19, a business honors graduate who took the class previously, announced at the event that the two representatives present from The Philanthropy Lab—both Aggies—had decided to give an additional $10,000 in honor of Chancellor Sharp’s visit.

“This has to be the easiest $10,000 Chancellor Sharp ever gave!” she said.

Student-Driven Impact in the Brazos Valley

The eighteen students in the May 2019 class funded eight organizations.

Marketing major and class member Shelby Edwards ’19 says a Charles Dickens quote inspired her to sign up: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

But for Shelby, the class proved to be life-changing.

“I know that what I learned about working with others to make decisions and about how I can make a real impact, even as a younger person, will influence me not only in my profession, but in my personal life, as well,” she says.

The class started the semester by learning about philanthropy and how nonprofits work in general, with a focus on strategic giving and the “why” behind charitable giving.

They crafted their own mission statement as the “why” to guide their decisions: “to thoughtfully invest in nonprofits in the Brazos Valley to move toward their visions and build better communities.”

Next, they chose ten nonprofits for closer review and broke into smaller groups to visit two organizations each. They then shared what they learned with the others and used their strategic approach to make the final decisions on which organizations to fund.

“Giving the money away was an absolute joy,” Shelby says. “The nonprofits showed us gaps in our community that we had not seen before. We were amazed at what they do to make life better for people here.

“My takeaway is that we all have the ability to give money, or time, or effort, not ‘one day,’ but right now, even if we are young and just starting out. We are a generation that can make a difference!”

A Simple but Life-Changing Idea

Business honors Jimmie Fields ’21 explained the powerful concept that inspired the class to fund OnRamp.

“Entrepreneurship is about finding the main pressure point and exploiting it,” he says. “The Jennings family has done just this in the Bryan-College Station area by giving reliable, pre-owned cars to people in need.”

The class gave $11,000 to cover the cost of two cars. OnRamp has provided 23 cars since the organization was founded about eighteen months ago. Other local charities refer clients to the Jennings family for consideration.

“As a pastor at a local church, I meet a lot of single moms who are near poverty and who cannot afford reliable transportation,” Blake Jennings says. “As a result, they find it hard to hold down a job, hard to get their kids to school, and hard to get to doctors’ appointments. My wife and I wanted to do something about it—to serve others just as we encourage our congregation to serve others.”

The Transformational Effect of Mays Philanthropy

Students are transformed by the class in many ways.

For example, Mays graduate Zach Marbach ’17, who took the inaugural class in spring 2016, is now an Associate Program Director with The Philanthropy Lab, as is fellow Aggie Megan Mader ’12. In addition, other students have joined the boards of the nonprofits represented or otherwise made charitable giving a priority in their lives.

“We are incredibly grateful to all who entrust our students to make life-changing decisions with their money,” Kyle Gammenthaler says. “Our next goal: to pass the one-million-dollar mark.”

In addition to OnRamp, the following local charities received funding this semester:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network
  • Health For All
  • Scotty’s House
  • Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • United Way of the Brazos Valley
  • VOOM Foundation

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Students, Texas A&M

Poonam Tare’s former classmates united together to purchase her Aggie ring when she returned to Texas A&M University from abroad. Tare is a Master of Science in Management Information Systems student who began the program in Fall 2016. Unfortunately, after the Fall 2017 semester, she was unable to continue her education and took a medical leave of absence to return home to India. This semester, Texas A&M welcomes back Tare to campus as she has returned to complete her degree by December of this year.

Many of Tare’s classmates graduated in May 2018, and they wanted to do something special for her by purchasing her Aggie ring. A group of former classmates reached out to Veronica Stilley, the director of the MS-MIS program, to verify that Tare was eligible to order her Aggie ring. A student must have 90 completed undergraduate or professional hours, 45 completed institution undergraduate or professional hours, and a 2.0 minimum cumulative GPR to be eligible to order an Aggie ring – a coveted symbol of the Aggie network.

…Read more

Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

Originally published in Texas A&M Foundation

Over the last few decades, a familiar scene has emerged: A dozen or so undergraduates from the Mays Business Honors program sitting around a conference table, listening with rapt attention as Wayne Roberts ’85 shares some of the life lessons he’s gained over his 30-plus-year career in the technology industry.

A recognized leader in his field, Wayne has spoken to business honors students at Texas A&M on numerous occasions. “If there’s one nugget I can leave with students, one lesson learned or one insight that helps them, then it’s worth it,” he said. “I just want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Coming back to campus to speak with current students is just one way Wayne and his wife Shannon ’86 give back to their alma mater. Recently, the Roberts served as lead donors for the men’s basketball team’s new student athlete center, now named in their honor. In 2014, the couple also established an endowed business honors scholarship for Mays undergrads. They’ve also contributed to the renovation of Kyle Field, the Bright Football Complex and the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center. …Read more

Categories: Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

In 2017, the average Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopper spent just over $400 purchasing gifts online for the holiday season. Cyber Monday alone broke a record with $6.59 billion in online sales. At the same time, the average online gift to a nonprofit organization has remained steady at just over $100. In response to this difference, Giving Tuesday was established as an international day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Giving Tuesday is a valuable opportunity for individuals and nonprofits to come together under the banner of generosity and philanthropy. On November 27th, people will make decisions, both large and small, to impact their communities. It is a powerful reminder that small acts of generosity can add up to significant change. The numbers provided above often make us think that generosity and philanthropy are words retained for the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world. However, generosity can, and likely will, begin in smaller increments.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Texas A&M

It has been more than a year since Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 storm that made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast with winds up to 130 miles per hour, led to the destruction of many houses and buildings in the Houston and Gulf Coast areas.

In late October, 15 students and two staff members representing Mays and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion traveled to Vidor, Texas, near Beaumont, to aid in the continued relief efforts. Most of the students were members of the Regents’ Ambassador Program for first-generation scholars. This is the group’s second service trip to Southeast Texas. Last fall, students and staff worked to “muck out” a home that had been completely submerged during the storm.

The students painted with primer two homes that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The project followed another group that had prepared the drywall. The next teams that work on the homes will continue to process by applying the paint finish, allowing the rebuilders to begin the floor restoration process. It will take continual, collective efforts to finish these homes.

At one home, the water was waist-deep when the resident’s neighbors rescued her in their boat. Both homes’ residents – older females – are still residing in FEMA trailers. One resident was out of town when the students worked, but her daughter hosted the group and worked alongside them, swapping stories about SEC schools and football. The other resident, challenged with mobility issues, was incredibly appreciative for the group’s efforts, as she is not able to work on the home herself.

The team partnered with non-profit group Nehemiah’s Vision, which still has about 140 homes in line to be repaired. The organization is calling on all able school, religious, and community groups to partner as they work to rebuild the area. Many residents still reside in FEMA trailers, and some have departed their homes without expectation of a return, due to the associated costs of rebuilding.

…Read more

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty, Mays Business, Selfless service, Spotlights, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Ricky Griffin didn’t plan to have an academic career. Therefore, Mays Business School’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Research and Scholarship wasn’t an honor he anticipated receiving.

He now is among a handful of Mays’ legendary scholars who have received this prestigious award. “The Lifetime Achievement Award is rarified air,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones during a Sept. 14 ceremony marking Griffin’s honor. “It’s the highest honor that Mays Business School gives.”

Griffin put his selection to receive the award into perspective. “When I’ve attended these award presentations in the past, I’ve always been in awe when I hear people talk about the intentionality with which they chose to become a scientist,” he said.  “They talk about the time when they wanted to become a professor. They knew they wanted to study finance or marketing or management because they were interested in this topic. I’m in awe because nothing like that happened to me. I became a scholar truly by accident.”

Yet, Griffin’s impressive body of work over his 40-year career sets him apart. He helped frame discussions in a diverse range of research areas, including job characteristics, work design, emergent leadership, social information processing, and workplace violence and aggression. He also served in administrative roles where he strived to work collaboratively to create policies and programs that would enhance Mays standing in the academic community. …Read more

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

One year later, Texas is still bouncing back from the historic and catastrophic Hurricane Harvey. A group of Aggies is helping the recovery continue.

The Category 4 storm touched the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25th, 2017, bringing winds up to 130 miles per hour, which led to the destruction of many houses and buildings in the Houston area. Harvey lingered over Houston for four days.

Last year, a grassroots organization made up of Texas A&M University students came together to collect relief supplies for those affected by the storm. They called on the Aggie community, and donations filled an 18-wheeler and four moving trucks with approximately 1,000 cases of water, 350 boxes of food, diapers, toiletries, air mattresses, and other items. In addition, the students were able to raise $30,000 for the American Red Cross as well as attract Aggie alumnus and Denver Broncos superstar Von Miller to captain the initiative. He donated $100,000 toward the group effort. …Read more

Categories: Featured Stories, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M