Out of 120 undergraduate chapters on four continents, the University of Minnesota’s Net Impact chapter was chosen as the 2015-16 Undergraduate Chapter of the Year. The goal of Net Impact is to better the community through business. In the past year alone, the University’s chapter grew its membership base by more than 75 students and rolled out more than 15 events that partnered with more than 20 organizations and non-profits.

As part of the prize, the group will receive two platinum passes to the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia where the leaders will receive their Chapter of the Year certificate.

Net Impact Group Photo

A core of collaboration

Before the University of Minnesota group was nominated for Chapter of the Year, it had already received recognition as a Gold status chapter for its commitment to Net Impact’s mission. However, to complete the application for Chapter of the Year, student leaders compiled a 17-page report giving an overview of the year for a panel of judges to read, and they produced a three-minute video to garner online votes.

One of the highlights of the report was an event that has been part of the chapter since its inception in 2010: Carlson Goes to Work. During the daylong event, teams of undergraduate students work as pro-bono consultants to Twin Cities non-profits to address business challenges. In 2016, Net Impact teams brought new ideas for social media campaigns, event marketing, and more for local non-profits such as the Minnesota Literacy Council, the Food Group, and Do it Green Minneapolis. One of the non-profits, Can Do Canines, returned to participate as the focal point of another of Net Impact’s events: a multi-day case competition that was hosted in conjunction with the Undergraduate Consulting Club.

Indu Damodar, co-president of the chapter, says that the leadership team was full of energy as they coordinated its efforts this year. “I would have to mention our president last semester, Ben Kubesh,” she says. “He laid everything out for us, set the vision, and inspired us to work hard. We came in with this energy, and he had this way of channeling all this energy and pointing us in the direction we had to go down.”

Sustainability and beyond

Historically, the University of Minnesota’s undergraduate Net Impact chapter has been focused on sustainability: In addition to a sustainability panel and roundtable discussion, the group celebrated Earth Day by cleaning up the banks of the Mississippi River with the Tennant Company and Mississippi Park Connection. However, this year saw the group adopted a broadened vision that reflected Net Impact’s efforts to grow the group beyond the Carlson School to reach all undergraduate students who want to better the world.

By increasing the diversity of both its event partners and its members, Damodar hopes that more students can see how they can have a positive impact in a way that aligns with their individual interests.

“When you’re little, everyone wants to make a difference in the world,” Damodar says, “But that often gets lost because we don’t know how to do it. There’s so many little things we can do every day in our jobs and careers to make the world better in a small way, and if we all do that, we’ll make a huge positive impact.”