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Executive MBA class prompts $100,000 gift from True Value to Northern Illinois Food Bank

June 21, 2012

True Value: Start Right. Start Here.A True Value Company executive’s experience in a Northern Illinois University class led to a $100,000 gift from his employer to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

John Donigian, vice president of inventory management for True Value, was part of a team of NIU Executive MBA students working on a class project to increase visibility of, and donations to, the NIFB. The food bank works with food pantries across 13 counties, providing nutritious meals for a half-million people.

When Donigian and teammates visited a food pantry in Naperville, he was surprised to learn that such facilities provide families with many essentials other than food.

“They also provide the essential household products required to keep a house running – paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, cleansers and things like that,” Donigian said. “And while they are always in need of food to feed the hungry, they also have a very difficult time keeping those types of products on the shelf.”

Donigian shared what he learned with other executives at True Value, one of the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperatives, and they were eager to help. The result was a donation of $100,000 in household goods, which will be given to the NIFB over the course of 12 months.

“When we realized that our hungry neighbors needed more than just food, it was an easy decision to help,” Donigian. said “It’s about helping people through a tough time in their lives.”

Northern Illinois Food Bank logoDonigian, who is in the final year of his MBA program at NIU, said that the project gave him and his classmates tremendous insight into the workings of not-for-profit organizations. “It’s a great program. I’m not aware of many others that provide those types of opportunities.”

The course was incorporated into the Executive MBA curriculum to provide students with the opportunity to carry out a focused consulting project for a real company in real time.

“We were very excited to work with Northern Illinois Food Bank on this project,” said Ann Carrel, director of MBA programs for the NIU College of Business. “It is a win-win situation when students can learn and engage with a local not-for-profit organization; all parties involved gain from the experience.”

The NIFB was delighted by the gift and the marketing ideas provided by NIU students.

“Northern Illinois Food Bank is grateful for the generous $100,000 in-kind product donation from True Value,” said Pete Schaefer, president and CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank. “This terrific gift is a result of the hard work and innovative ideas developed by NIU Executive MBA students. The insight these students provided through their project will help us feed more hungry neighbors in DeKalb and 12 other northern Illinois counties.”