In support of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics’ (B&E) vision to not only educate students about the world of business, but also shape them into generous corporate citizens, the Enterprise Holdings Foundation made a generous gift of $20,000 to the Corporate Citizenship Project within the B&E Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) course.
The Enterprise Holdings Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, which – through its integrated global network of independent regional subsidiaries and franchises – operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.
“We teach our management students about more than just making money; we also teach them the importance of putting that money to good use for a good cause. We are so grateful to the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for enabling us to continue this effort,” Abhishek Srivastava, chair of the management department, said. “This was a surprise gift. The Enterprise Holdings Foundation has supported B&E’s CSR course in the past, but this was a much larger donation.”
This gift was a little bit different. Each year, the Jack Taylor Founding Values Award Program honors top Enterprise Holdings regional subsidiaries for their commitment to integrating the company’s core values into their daily operations. As a Founding Values Award winner, the Enterprise Holdings West Virginia subsidiary received $20,000 from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation to donate to the organization(s) of its choice.
“For the last two years we’ve requested grants from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation to support the CSR class. When we learned how the class operates, we were really impressed because it reflects our founding values, one of which is to strengthen our communities one neighborhood at a time,” said Jim Withers, Director of Business Rental Sales for Enterprise of West Virginia. “When we won the Jack Taylor Founding Values Award this year, we were thrilled to be able to provide additional support to the B&E CSR course. We think it is a very worthwhile program. B&E is not only preparing students to pursue successful careers but also teaching them the value of giving back to the community.”
In the B&E CSR course, students execute the Corporate Citizenship Project. They request proposals for projects that would benefit Monongalia County and develop criteria for evaluation, including each program’s track record and the impact a grant would have. During the final days of the semester, the students then chose which applicants to award a total of $20,000, guided by their mission statement to make a long-lasting impact while providing quality service to the community.
The course is currently taught by Elizabeth Vitullo, assistant dean of graduate programs. In addition to this project, students must also perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service.
“This gift from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation really allows our students to foster a sense of good corporate citizenship by serving nonprofits in the area by,” Vitullo said. “In class, the students learn how to best align the resources they have with their mission statement and how to disseminate those resources to the community.”
Bob Reitman, a 1955 B&E alumnus, proposed the idea of the class and initially funded the project to teach future business leaders the value of contributing to society and the community.
The Enterprise Holdings Foundation gift will be spread across two years with $10,000 being dispersed during this year’s class project and the other $10,000 during the 2017-2018 class project. The course and the project are also sustained through other generous donations. David Cale, teaching assistant professor of management, is an integral supporter of the course.
“A business is not an island. Always, it is a part of a community. As such, its managers must recognize that a symbiotic relationship exists between the health of a business and the health of its community.” Cale said. “Even when the market served by that business is not local, its employees still are. It is, therefore, in the self-interest of every business to support those nonprofit organizations effectively contributing to regional improvement.”
The students currently enrolled in the course are grateful for the contributions from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Dr. Cale. They are also working to sustain funds for the course project through a crowdfunding initiative that will begin in mid-March. The course is also currently requesting proposals for grants, which are due by March 3. For questions or to submit a proposal, please email Dr. Vitullo at email@example.com.