Every year, Houston is seeing new refugees and most of them have spent years in refugee camps living in extreme conditions. Some of them have agrarian background and experience in which they are faced with huge challenges coming in a new country. Plant-It-Forward is a non-profit organization that assists refugee farmers with building successful farm businesses and selling fresh, local produce to local Houstonians. They offer classroom and field-based training to help their businesses. And so, this summer we collaborated with them to teach business skills to the farmers.
Every other Thursday, we give a one-hour lesson on different business topics to a small group of farmers. Throughout this project, we planned out lessons and assignments and translated them into French which most of the farmers spoke. We also reached out to local chefs and leaders in the community as guest speakers to give advice. This year-long program will help them utilize their newly profound knowledge to improve their record keeping, management, and communication skills. We hope they can apply them to their daily lives as well, especially those with children. We will continue teaching the same farmers in Spring 2017 on more advanced business topics.
For more information about this organization, please visit their website at http://plant-it-forward.org/
Yates High School Mentorship Program (GENB & Non-GENB)
This year-long program will allow Enactus members to mentor a group of seniors at Yates High School, located in the Third Ward right next to the University of Houston. The objective of this program is to give exposure to these students about college and what it has to offer, particularly the University of Houston. It focuses on college applications, how to apply for FAFSA and scholarships and prepare for college.
During the semester, we gave a tour to the students and learned what they their goals are. Enactus also received a grant to help empower women to achieve success in college. We hope to use this grant to help fund a scholarship or similar program for the students. During Spring 2017, we will have two teams to teach the junior and the senior classes to create a yearly program for the school.
Houston Furniture Bank (GENB)
This year we reconnected with the Houston Furniture Bank and followed up with them after the fire damage back in August 2015. They are in need of furniture donations and more exposure to the Houston community. So we decided to create two promotional videos for them to help gain a foot back in the spotlight.
This Fall, Enactus along with the Public Relations team of the Houston Furniture Bank filmed the new headquarters and the Outlet Center. One video is promotional, giving insight as to why this organization exists and who they help. Another video is an infomercial, letting the audience know how to get involved, such as volunteering, donating furniture and money, or becoming a sponsor. These videos will be further edited and posted on their social media websites to gain more exposure to the online community. As such, Spring 2017 will utilize these videos as a fallback for promoting their Outlet Center and their new headquarters.
For more information about this organization, please visit their website at http://houstonfurniturebank.org/
Enactus Fundraising (GENB)
As a nonprofit club, Enactus needs a steady fund source every semester to continue doing the fun stuff and attending competitions that we do. Therefore, we created a sustainable fundraising project and established a calendar on how to set up our fundraising events for future semesters. We created and implemented two profitable fundraising events that not only helped us give a monetary resource but exposure to the students at the University of Houston. This Fall, we sold chicken and waffles, with supplies given by H-E-B and Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken. In addition, H-E-B sponsored one of our events, giving our project members an exclusive opportunity to network with them.
After this project, we will have a separate fundraising committee that will allow Enactus members to help set up events throughout each semester and gain skills in budgeting, public relations, and project management.
1. REUSE WAREHOUSE (WITH GENB 3302)
The City of Houston Building Materials ReUse Warehouse aims to store and reuse some of the construction waste materials used to build buildings in the city limits. More than one-third of the waste stream in the Houston area is made up of construction and demolition material, much of which could be diverted and re-used. By storing the materials until they can be used by community groups, the Warehouse will keep these valuable resources out of our local landfills.
The objective of this project is to research and build a business plan for the ReUse Warehouse to launch a re-sale shop in Spring 2015. Although the ReUse Warehouse is not open to the general public now, it wants to expand so it can generate profits that can be donated to charity - and they need our help!
2. BUMBLEBEE RESALE SHOP (GENB)
The Bumblebee Resale Shop out of Neighborhood Centers in Baker Ripley currently collects donated materials to stock the shop. The earnings from the shop are then used to fund other projects by Neighborhood Centers. They have a volunteer based employee system of two dedicated members. Currently, the shop is both lacking in inventory and in volunteer employees.
The objective of this project is to work with Neighborhood Centers to research and create a business plan to run the shop long-term.
3. UNIVERSITY CAREER CENTER SUIT CLOSET PROJECT (NON-GENB)
Last year, we worked on a project that created greater efficiency in Bauer's Rockwell Career Center Suit Closet and budgeted a $5,000 grant from the Grainger Foundation to purchase more suits. This semester, we're looking to expand our project to the campus-wide University Career Center.
4. CONVERGENCE (GENB AND NON-GENB)
Over the Summer of 2015, we were approached by Microsoft to take on an exciting new project.
Working with Microsoft representatives, we will work to create a new non-profit that connects underemployed racial and ethnic minorities and underemployed females with mentors who are professionals in their area of focus with the goal of developing a mentor/mentee relationship that helps the mentee gain access to the social "network" through which many are placed in jobs.
There will be several iterations of this project in the Fall, including a non-GENB team. More details describing each project will come soon.
See the video below that the Convergence summer team created for Microsoft's internal event, Hackathon, to learn more about the project.
1. MEALS ON WHEELS VOLUNTEER TRAINING
We worked on implementing an online volunteer training platform for Meals on Wheels Houston as well as acting on the recommendations of a previous semester's research project.
2. HOUSTON FURNITURE BANK
We made progress towards creating a non-profit called NimbleRent that will be renting out furniture from the Houston Furniture Bank and creating a profit center for both the Houston Furniture Bank and Enactus UH.
3. ROCKWELL CAREER CENTER SUIT CLOSET
What do you see when you look at a suit? Buttons, black fabric? An article of clothing for a professional event? Many students at the University of Houston see a suit as something out of their reach. More than a fourth of all Bauer business students are the first in their family to go to college. More than half are the first in their family to go to college, and more than 60% qualify for financial aid.
Why do they do it? Students know that education is worth the investment. But without a job, it is impossible for this investment to pay off. Without a suit, students lose the ability to interview competitively. To some on our campus, the suits in Rockwell Career Center's Suit Closet are million dollar suits. Thanks to a $5000 grant from the Grainger Foundation last Fall, we were able to expand the Suit Closet to make it a more effective and well-known resource without relying on the full-time staff.
We took a poll in the General Business class, giving us 120 survey responses from an ideal population. We cross-referenced this data with the Suit Closet's existing inventory and budgeted 14 brand new suits be added to the inventory. We created a new inventory tracking system to solve some of the challenges created by the old spreadsheet, and also created a set of suit check-out SOPs. We hand-labeled 168 pieces of the existing inventory to bring order to the Suit Closet's physical inventory tracking, and created flyers and an advertisement for the Video Walls in Cemo and UCBB to raise awareness about the service.
4. REFUGEE RE-CERTIFICATION
10,000 refugees migrate to Texas each year. That's 16% of the total refugees who come to the US each year. And sadly, although many used to have professional-level jobs in their home countries, they risk losing their professional standing when they come to the USA because their licenses or degrees are no longer valid. Many turn to minimum-wage jobs and live below their means.
Last year, Enactus partnered with Interfaith Ministries to assist them in finding resources to give out to the hundreds of refugees that walk through their doors. This year, our goal was to create an informative, accessible guide to help refugees in the medical and engineering fields become re-certified and earn back the ability to stand on their own two feet.
We started by researching the steps a refugee would need to take in order to become re-certified, and formatted the content into two separate guides - one for refugees in the medical field, and one for refugees in the engineering field. We determined the layout of the guides and the order of the content, taking into account readability and importance of information. Our guides are now ready for printing. We are currently still working with Interfaith Ministries to have the flyers distributed at their location.
1. INTERFAITH MINISTRIES REFUGEE PROJECT
When immigrants come to the USA from another country, their credentials, such as educational degrees, professional certifications, or medical licenses, often become invalid, greatly handicapping their transition to a new country. Our goal with this project was to help international refugees get re-certified for the qualifications they had in their home country and lead a more successful life.
2. HOUSTON FURNITURE BANK: FURNITURE RENTAL PROGRAM [Stage 1]
In Fall 2014, vital research was done to set the stage for the future launch of a furniture rental business.
3. POWER PRACTICAL
We kept contact with Peru, utilizing the groundwork laid in previous semesters. We connected PowerPractical, a startup in Salt Lake City, with NGOs in Peru to provide rural Peruvians a source of cheap, mobile, and clean energy to power their smartphones and stay connected to the rest of Peruvian and global society.
4. FAST VOLUNTEERING
Students helped keep the Meals on Wheels program afloat and delivered meals to the needy.
5. FURNITURE BANK: FURNITURE DRIVE
A GENB team successfully conducted a Furniture Drive, working with a local Sam's Club and generating profits for the Houston Furniture Bank.
6. FURNITURE BANK: SOCIAL MEDIA
The Houston Furniture Bank got a Facebook page and an Instagram, helping them build their online presence and gain more customers. We generated over 5 million media impressions for the HFB.