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NIU Today | From the ground up…Business in Action students consult with urban farming nonprofit

NIU College of Business students on the college’s Business in Action (BIA) course discover fertile educational opportunities during the fall 2021 semester for consulting work for a nonprofit organization. We Grow, We Grow – located in the third largest city in the country – is dedicated to educating the public about urban farming.

NIU Business Instructor Scott Rosenfelder (left) meets with We Sow, We Grow managers Natasha (centre right) and Shamuri Nichols (right)

BIA partners first and second year NIU students in all disciplines with faculty/faculty coaches to address a variety of business issues whether for an existing company, startup, or non-profit organization. Students act like advisors and work as a team. Throughout their time in the classroom, they receive guidance from a faculty coach.

The student advisory team for the Chicago-based organization We Sow, We Grow received training from BIA coach Scott Rosenfelder.

Rosenfelder is also an entrepreneur and NIU graduate, graduating from NIU in 1985 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. One of his first professional roles was as the Director of Software Development at Motorola. There, he performed his professional duties with self-confidence and soon doubled to study and obtain an MBA from Benedictine University. When he reached this goal, his horizons expanded again.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial background,” admits Rosenfelder.

In 1992, he left Motorola to become the founder and chief operating officer of ClearPoint Technology, a highly successful company. Within eight years, the accounting firm Deloitte Touche had acquired the company and led Rosenfelder.

But regardless of his career path, a constant for Rosenfelder was his active commitment to the NIU. His volunteer work with the university includes sitting on executive advisory boards in the College of Business and the Department of Operations Management and Information Systems and giving presentations regularly in different classes and on boards. He recently retired from his position as Managing Director at Deloitte, which allowed Rosenfelder to become more active with his alma mater. Specifically, join the roster of NIU faculty in the School of Business in its Experiential Learning Center. He also teaches on the “Business at Work” course at the college.

Rosenfelder is excited to share his diverse background in software development, management, entrepreneurship, leadership, and data analytics with NIU students.

“I bring a lot of important topics and preference points to the table to help enrich the educational experience for NIU students,” he says. “How you deliver well, how you add value, how you get to that mark with the client — these are the things that I can really help students with.”

Case in point: In their work with We Sow and We Grow and under Rosenfelder’s guidance, first- and second-year NIU students began work and provided solutions to issues that included recruitment, online marketing, and budgeting.

Alex Ary, a BIA student and accounting major, explains, “For my part, I provided information regarding industry standards for pay associated with potential jobs that the managers involved in We Sow, We Grow were looking to create. I also recommended a setup plan to help train new employees.”

Ary credits his team members Owen Spear and Joe Koleno for their work researching tax regulations and creating the organizational structure, respectively.

“Scott’s work with the students kept them focused on our true mission and mission,” says Natasha Nichols, CEO of We Sow, We Grow.

“He really made us feel like peers,” adds Shomarie Nichols, Natasha’s husband and associate farm manager at We Sow, We Grow. “He was more excited than we had been to work on our first meeting together.”

“We were pleased with the research and suggestions from the students, especially on recruitment,” says Natasha. “I am very confident that a few of their recommendations will help us achieve and exceed our goals in the next fiscal year. I am excited to see the positive impact all of their work has on our organization. We plan to use much of what has been recommended over the next few months.”

Ari, a BIA student, admits that the work was often detailed but also fun and rewarding.

“It was a great learning experience,” Ari says. “Professor Rosenfelder did a great job defining what the class would entail. It was great working with a private non-profit organization in Chicago. I learned a lot.”

“Doing business is a great starting point for students at NIU in general and at the university’s business school,” adds Ronsenfelder. “The students have done an amazing job looking into the details, formulating a formal set of conclusions, analyzing recommendations, and coming up with a series of solutions to help our clients grow as a nonprofit.”

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