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Northeastern students, Haley House team up to market cookies

Posted by Cara Bayles  November 11, 2010 12:53 PM

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(Globe file photo/2007)

A cooking class for young people at the Haley House Bakery.

Northeastern students are teaming up with the Haley House Bakery and Café to bring cookies to campus and draw more customers to its Roxbury café location.

The cookie program was started and run by five formerly incarcerated men, who make, package and sell the cookies, using the Dudley Square bakery as their base. They've been selling the cookies out of the university's campus center, thanks to a partnership with Northeastern's John D. O'Bryant African American Institute.

Now, Northeastern students in the student group Northeastern Students for Giving (better known as NS4G) are looking for new university markets—like sporting events and department functions—for cookie sales. They also launched a Facebook page on Tuesday that will offer members promotional deals for buying cookies on campus, and make popular professors into cookie spokesmen.

"We're putting marketing strategies in place," said Jonah Silberg, a senior and founding member of the student group. "Through the Facebook page, every month we're offering new promotion for members. Right now, if you buy a pack of cookies from the store on campus, and bring the wrapper and your student ID to Haley House, you'll get $1 off a meal at Roxbury location."

The Northeastern Students for Giving student group was formed after students who had taken Rebecca Riccio's Strategic Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management class wanted to remain involved in the organizations they'd invested in. The class first started in 2008, with students doing need assessments and site visits, and granting funds in the spring of 2009 to worthy programs, thanks to a Fidelity Charitable Fund grant of $20,000 over the course of two years. The class just received a $10,000 grant from Sunshine Lady Foundation’s Learning by Giving program.

As part of the coursework, students targeted an issue and chose organizations based on their dedication and efficacy in meeting the grant's mission. In 2008, students picked youth violence, and Haley House was one of the first grantees, receiving funding to sponsor one session of its "Take Back the Kitchen" after-school program, which teaches students about nutrition and conflict resolution through cooking classes.

The café also offers training and jobs to the underemployed (people recovering from homelessness or recently released from jail), and operates a soup kitchen and affordable housing.

"Haley House is taking it upon itself to generate revenue, create employment, and reinvest back in community. What really resonated was the sustainability of their model," said Riccio. "Students were really impressed. It's a really a great model for community development."

Silberg, who took the class the first year it was offered, said the club is meant to nurture the relationships between campus and community that the class forges.

"We want to stay in touch with the organizations that we've given grants to in the past. Haley House is the pilot for that. We're looking at their volunteer needs and trying to fill them," he said.

Riccio advises the student group, and hopes it will continue to grow.

"This year, they really felt it would be a great idea to look back at some of grantees and do more than what we'd accomplished by simply writing a check," she said. "Philanthropy not just about giving money, it's about giving time and ideas and actively engaging."

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