First Book: MBAs with a Social Conscience

Last week BusinessWeek reported that more business school applicants say they want jobs in sustainability and social enterprise.

Many MBA applicants have a dream that one day businesses will rise up and live out the true meaning of their new creeds, which include bottom lines that do more than fatten the wallets of shareholders. They have a dream that one day Wall Street will not be judged by its big bonuses but by the content of its character.

Students here at UST are doing just that.  Together with his wife, in 2008 Marco Cavalletti founded the local chapter of a First Book initiative through her company. They have distributed more than 13,000 books to three low-income schools in the Twin Cities.

After sharing his passion with his fellow students, volunteers for starting a board at UST quickly came together and made it happen.The First Book-UST MBA Advisory Board was founded by six students of the University of St. Thomas full-time UST MBA program, with the aim to give back to the community to which it belongs.

First Book is a nonprofit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Since 1992 First Book has provided over 70 million books to children in need. By providing new books to children in preschools and after-school programs, mentoring and tutoring programs, shelters and day care centers and beyond, First Book provides resources to empower teachers and administrators.

In February, the group had its first reading--with 17 volunteers from UST faculty, staff and students--and distributed 250 books. A second reading is scheduled for April 26.

As an organization, the First Book-UST MBA Advisory Board has gained tremendous financial support already. A fundraiser brought in generous donations came from dozens of campus community members, raising a grand total of $2,600. The advisory board secured a grant of $10,000 from a family foundation that will be evenly spread out over the next five years. Furthermore, a private donor committed to donating $5,000 over the same period.

These generous donations and grants will enable First Book to serve three YMCA Beacon schools in the academic year 2010-2011 and beyond. There will be at least four readings each academic year for approximately 750 children in all three schools for a total of 12 readings and 3000 books to be distributed.