ChangeMakers | Gaels Give Back to Local Community

 "This is an excellent way for business (SEBA) alums to stay connected to SMC while giving back to the community” - ChangeMakers alumni participant

On August 28th and September 18th, 9 Antioch nonprofits and small businesses hit hard by the COVID lockdown and subsequent economic downturn were selected to take part in the newly pivotted, virtual version of ChangeMakers programming. For those who don’t know, ChangeMakers is a fast-paced, half-day event that brings small businesses and nonprofits together with the Saint Mary’s Community (alumni, students, faculty and staff) to troubleshoot challenges faced by the businesses. 

The year's businesses -- Fit Body Boot Camp, The Print Club, Hillcrest Restaurant & Taphouse, Markstein Sales Company, ServPro of Antioch, G Street Mercantile, DecisionViz, Service Pro Plumbers and Opportunity Junction, presented a range of challenges in areas including; business strategy, ecommerce, marketing and advertising, human resources, finance and accounting, technology and operations. The feedback from the small businesses and nonprofits was incredibly positive.

“The team of professors, undergraduate and postgraduate students shared a wealth of knowledge with me and helped create a 3 step approach to help my business. I am so grateful for this opportunity and would highly recommend other small businesses that are struggling to participate”

In the past few months, a common theme has emerged, not only within the Saint Mary's community, but nationally and globally - a desire to help and support others during these very difficult times.

“What a great opportunity to use our backgrounds and education to better our communities” - ChangeMakers participant

With over 80 participants, this event saw a similar outpouring of support from SMC alums - a response that truly embodies our Lasallian values and the mission of the School of Economics and Business Administration.

“The group that ChangeMakers put together was amazing. The depth and range of knowledge and experience they brought, truly was something we are thankful and definitely grateful to have experienced.”

This partnership - between Saint Mary’s College and the Antioch Chamber of Commerce - isn’t brand new. Last semester, the City of Antioch and the Antioch Chamber of Commerce joined with Saint Mary’s School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA) and the College’s Center for the Regional Economy, led by Professor Berna Aksu, to spearhead a student competition that developed proposals to address economic challenges faced by retail establishments in Somersville Town Center.

Pre-Covid iterations of the Changemakers have seen collaborations with Moraga Chamber of Commerce, Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, and small businesses throughout the East Bay. This type of colloborative programming goes hand in hand to further develop strategic initiatives; nurture relationships with the alumni community, provide networking opportunities for students and recent grads, develop and strengthen connections with local business communities and above all, to give back.

Ultimately, the most heartening take away from this event is how the Saint Mary’s Community comes together to support those in need. From the prep work done in the lead up to the event, to the scope of recommendations formulated, to the post-event commitments made by individuals to continue working with the businesses - ChangeMakers proves that the sense of community and social responsibility that is fostered at Saint Mary’s, stays with our alums and community, long after they leave campus.