Nonprofit and College of Business Students Partner on Web Design
July 7, 2021
MISSOULA - Partnering with 5-2-1-0 Let's Move! Missoula (LM!M), University of Montana College of Business students received real-world experience by applying lessons learned in the classroom to design and build a new website for the local nonprofit group.
Eight teams from the UM College of Business Systems Analysis and Design course competed to have their website design selected by LM!M, which is a community initiative mobilizing projects and partnerships that build healthy kids and residents of all ages. The project highlights the strong, mutually beneficial relationships that exist between the University and the community.
“The Missoula City – County Health Department, in partnership with the United Way of Missoula, has dreamed of a new website dedicated to the LM!M initiative,” said Lisa Beczkiewicz, Health Promotion Supervisor and Invest Health Leader, who oversees the LM!M program. “By promoting positive physical and nutritional health awareness, resources, and tools, the new website helps mobilize and move Missoula residents to make healthy choices. I am grateful for this community partnership and am confident the new website will help get the message out.”
The student-based project is a competition held every semester as part of the business curriculum in partnership with a local nonprofit organization that is looking to revamp their online presence. During the semester-long project, each team gathers information from the nonprofit, conducts research on which features and functionality will be best suited for that organization, designs a website, and pitches their prototype at the end of the competition.
“COVID-19 put a halt to our in-person health promotion activities. The timing was perfect. It presented an opportunity to partner with UM to develop the new website, while empowering the students to learn tools and skills with meaning and purpose. I was impressed to see the quick connection the students made to the project and our community,” Beczkiewicz said.
Dr. Reda Haddouch, who taught the course and managed the project, added: “Experiential learning opportunities like this develop innate skills by doing the work. Students devoted many hours listening and learning about the initiative, including several diverse community focus groups to identify the features and functionality required in the new website. By working on a project with real consequences for people in our community, students are better able to apply classroom concepts to solve real-world problems.”
The design competition is now serving its fifth nonprofit. The leadership team, Eric Legvold, Director of Impact, United Way of Missoula, and Dr. Clayton Looney, UM Professor of Management Information Systems and Poe Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow, hopes this type of experience continues.
“UM’s College of Business gives the nonprofit community a perfect opportunity to engage students who can offer outstanding insights and expertise,” Legvold remarked.
Many LM!M stakeholders were present for the presentations and judged each of the teams, providing feedback on every design. The winning team, Clark Fork Designs, was represented by six UM business students - Karen De La Luz, Sam Donnermeyer, T.J. Forrest, Matthew Holloway, Kylie Landmark, and Maria Stults. After the winning prototype was selected, the project came full circle when Maria volunteered to continue as an intern.
“Thanks to Maria’s positive attitude and outstanding skills, we now have a live website that meets the needs of our community,” Beczkiewicz added. “It also allows us to easily update content, which keeps the information fresh and relevant.”
More information on LM!M can be found on the program’s website (https://www.5210letsmovemissoula.org/).
The University of Montana is the flagship university of the state. The College of Business at UM is nationally renowned and has been named the top business school in the Big Sky Conference by U.S. News and World Report for five consecutive years.