The department of nonprofit management, empowerment, and diversity studies encourages students to talk about empowerment in uncertain times during the ninth annual IZE week.
Alice Delvecchio, the department chair, said that the idea of IZE week originated in 2012 and asked students to identify a social issue that they would like the community to realize, to emphasize and to mobilize.
The theme for the weeks stem around a topic that is of interest to the students that they may think they know about, but actually do not. Delvecchio said that students and faculty know what these uncertain times feel like but may not know how to navigate. She hopes that IZE week will help those understand that they can get through these times.
“All of us are really trying to get back to normal as best we can, and everybody’s world has been turned upside down, most of us are not doing things the way we had done them before,” Delvecchio said.
Those in the nonprofit sector have seen what uncertainty and COVID-19 has done to those who use nonprofit services, such as food banks and services for mental health challenges.
“Everybody has been impacted by this COVID piece,” Delvecchio said. “I have seen how the sector is dealing with it and how students and colleagues are dealing with it. We hear from the students and it is hard to stay confident and in a power mode when the world around you feels so uncertain.”
Andrea Altman, a junior dual major in integrated marketing and communications and philanthropy and nonprofit management, is the social marketing chair for the Student Nonprofit Alliance, the organization who helps to coordinate IZE week.
Altman said that they knew everybody was all over the place with COVID and that empowerment during uncertain times would help others to realize that they can have control in this crazy time.
“Everyone has been crammed with school and being extremely stressed and we wanted to say ‘we are here for you and we understand what you are going through,'” Altman said. “We know this is crazy, but there are ways you can gain control.”
Gaining control and realizing that students have the power within themselves to be empowered are two key messages that Altman and Delvecchio hope those who attend IZE week walk away with.
IZE week began Oct. 27 and will end Nov. 9, with events such as So Many Ways to Change the World, Sweet and Meet, Empowered through Service, Get Off Your A– and Walk Challenge, Self-Care Sunday and Mobilizing for Empowered Communities to end the week.
Part of the Self-Care Sunday event will be presenter Rick Thomas with a self-care workshop with tools that can be used to enhance personal empowerment during uncertain times.
“The reality is you can provide opportunities for people to become empowered,” Delvecchio said.
To help empower students, Delvecchio and Altman came up with the idea of gratitude bags which can be picked up in the student center across from Starbucks from 11 a.m.-1.p.m. on weekdays.
These bags consist of a pen, 28 small blanks pieces of paper and several items to remind students that the campus community cares about them.
Delvecchio said that students are challenged to write something that they are grateful for every day and to hang the gratitude bag where they can see it.
“We really are empathetic with the students because we know this is rough for them and they keep at it, and the freshman, this is definitely not what they signed up for,” Delvecchio said.
Part of what is done in the department is to teach people how to change the world.
“That change starts with you and if you are empowered you can change the world,” Delvecchio said. “We want them to know that the world may be trying to change you and it may at times feel like burning and going to hell in a handbasket and our role in the world is not the world itself. Students have the power to change the world.”
The nonprofit management program is the only undergraduate program in Pennsylvania. Any students interested in the major or a certificate should get in touch with Delvecchio.