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Helping People Living with Blindness and Vision Loss

Stetson University School of Business Administration Executive MBA students set out a few months ago to shed some light on a deserving local nonprofit, and after months of research and hard work, the students presented their final recommendations to executives with Lighthouse Works this month.

As a component of their Marketing Decision Making course, the students developed a marketing plan to raise awareness for the services Lighthouse can provide, grow fundraising and donor efforts, and provide greater visibility to the business capabilities available.

Students in Stetson’s Executive MBA program developed a marketing plan this month to help Lighthouse Works, part of Lighthouse Central Florida, which helps the visually impaired.

“Marketing is essential to the success of any organization; however, for a nonprofit with limited resources, it is a critical component,” said B. Tod Cox, Ph.D., assistant professor of Marketing at Stetson University. “This project allows a local non-profit to benefit from the creative and resourceful ideas of a team of graduate students while at the same time allowing Stetson students to engage with the community-at-large and become leaders and catalysts for change through hands-on learning opportunities.”

Lighthouse Works is a subsidiary of Lighthouse Central Florida, a nonprofit organization empowering individuals who live with blindness and vision loss. Using innovative training techniques, Lighthouse Works hires employees who are visually impaired. Among other business lines, Lighthouse Works operates a contact center and uses pioneering assistive technology like screen readers where employees who are visually impaired listen to digital readers at over 1,500 words per minute. These employees now perform service calls more efficiently than traditional contact centers, and score higher satisfaction rates.

The EMBA students didn’t know what to expect when, on the first day of classes, they entered Lighthouse Works in the SoDo section of Orlando and were asked to don blindfolds while tasked with a variety of roles similar to those performed by Lighthouse Works employees. Students struggled to navigate the halls and manufacture items, developing a greater appreciation for what the visually impaired experience each and every day.  Immersed in the nonprofit’s environment for the day, they had the auspicious opportunity to learn firsthand about the mission, vision and goals of the organization.

Students blindfolded, gaining an awareness of the challenges faced by the visually impaired.

Students struggled to navigate the halls and manufacture items when blindfolded, gaining an awareness of the challenges faced by the visually impaired.

On June 10, after months of research, planning and development, Cohort 14 presented their final marketing recommendations detailing how Lighthouse could further impact the lives of children and adults living with blindness and vision loss by improving brand awareness, increasing fundraising opportunities, expanding community partnerships at annual events, and leveraging the contact center talent and expertise included in the plan.

“Having the opportunity to work with the Executive MBA students at Stetson University was an incredible honor,” said Kyle Johnson, Vice President & Chief Sustainability Office, Lighthouse Central Florida.  “Lighthouse Works seeks to be a competitive player within Central Florida’s business sector and finding that optimal marketing formula will help us distinguish ourselves.

“As a growing social enterprise, we are pleased to have access to these insightful and creative marketing plans and we’re thrilled to have helped inform and sensitize future marketers and budding business executives about our mission to serve and empower Central Florida’s community of blind and visually impaired,” he said.

Over the past few years, Stetson University students have achieved impressive results while working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, the Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank. At Stetson, the Executive MBA students are given the power to make a real difference in our community through hands-on learning opportunities, such as this. To learn more about this innovative program and the achievements of the EMBA students on behalf of the local nonprofits, or to speak with the faculty or students involved, feel free to contact me.

Contact: Marie Dinklage
Media Relations
C: 321-356-7945
marie.dinklage@stetson.edu

About Stetson University

Founded in 1883, Stetson University is the oldest private university in Central Florida, providing a transforming education in the liberal arts tradition. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high marks in national rankings. Stetson encourages its students to go beyond success to significance in their lives, the lives of others and their communities. Stay connected with Stetson on social media.

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