Nonprofits in a College Town


Martin Hall is the oldest building on the West Virginia University Campus. Home of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, Martin Hall is one of several buildings on WVU’s downtown campus. Photo Credit: Whitney Godwin.

For nine months out of the year, Morgantown, WV has nearly 30,000 extra residents. Why? It’s the home of West Virginia University.  You may think living in a college town is a nightmare, especially when the college can be found on the top party school list. You may also think the only thing college students do is be irresponsible, skip class, cause more traffic, and drink heavily, but many residents disagree.

“I love the energy of Morgantown,” said resident Shalane Koon. “The university has brought so many opportunities to Morgantown. It’s been a great boost economically. I believe it protected Morgantown a lot in the economic downturn so much of the country experienced. To add to that, we have an impeccable research hospital that has impacted so many of my friends and family.” Koon has been a Morgantown resident for 28 years.

In addition, having a large population of young people full of energy can be a huge advantage for nonprofit organizations in the area. Many college students, especially those new to campus are looking at ways to get involved. Some majors even require students to have a certain number of community service hours. In fact, Jill Havlat says college students may be more receptive to your organization’s need for volunteers than older adults.

Kylie Garner is a junior exercise physiology major at WVU. She’s required to have 50 community service hours before she can graduate. “I think certain majors, especially healthcare majors, should require students to do community service,” Garner said. “Aside from doing something positive for the community, it really teaches you communication and people skills.”

Will students be dependable? Students tend to have more flexible schedules than older adults, especially those with families. Being a student myself, I’m always looking for new experiences and networking opportunities to build my resume. Community service through nonprofits is a great way for students to network and feel connected to the community.

So, this may sound like students will use your organization to their advantage. Yes, but you can use students too. Many students love doing community service, regardless of whether it’s required or not. Just because we’re students doesn’t mean we’re not human. We like helping people just as much as the next person. Secondly, many students are hard workers—they want to make a difference. Finally, many students are interested in working for nonprofit groups as a career. By partnering with students and student groups, you may find a potential employee that will do great things for your organization.

In short, in a college town such as WVU with so many students, it would silly for a nonprofit not to capitalize on the opportunity to encourage individuals as well as organizations such as fraternities and sororities to participate in volunteering for their organization.


One thought on “Nonprofits in a College Town

  1. Nice use of reporting! I’m also glad to see you using your own photos (even of something that might seem basic like a building) instead of grabbing them from elsewhere. It reflects a good ethic on the larger level. As a MINOR quibble, you might note that Shalane is also an SOJ alum (and if she’s a friend of yours, that might be a good bit of transparency as well).

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