Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 29, 2023

SCNO provides free consulting services to local nonprofits

By HELEN LACEY and CATHY WANG | April 19, 2023



SCNO members highlighted the organization’s impact on Baltimore nonprofits.

Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO) provides free consulting services to nonprofits in Baltimore. Their services range from helping organizations with grant writing and web design to increasing social media engagement.

In an interview with The News-Letter, President Kush Kataria described the mission of the organization.

“Our broad mission is to let members gain experience in the consulting field... but at the same time help our community, the Baltimore community, by working with these nonprofits,” he said.

SCNO consults with different nonprofits each semester. In an interview with The News-Letter, Téa Baumgartner, vice president of community outreach and client recruitment, expanded on SCNO’s goals for their clients.

“It’s important to focus on the community we have right here at hand and also specifically providing [nonprofits] with long-standing or enduring solutions... because these nonprofits [are] normally extremely understaffed [and] underfunded,” she said.

Kataria added that the organization stands out from other consulting clubs at Hopkins because of its commitment to the Baltimore community. SCNO’s consulting services are pro-bono, meaning they do not require any money from their clients.

In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Jeffrey Weng expressed his appreciation for the community focus of SCNO. 

“I really see the impact of what we are doing because I get to see how things are implemented throughout the organization,” he said. “That’s something you don’t necessarily get when you do remote consulting for bigger companies who have multiple consulting services.”

SCNO members work in five project groups led by project managers. At the beginning of the semester, the project manager meets with the client to negotiate deliverables, which are usually three to five expected outcomes of the consulting work. During the semester, the teams present two main milestones: one mid-semester presentation within SCNO and a final presentation facing the client. 

Baumgartner noted that working with clients is one of her favorite parts of consulting with SCNO.

“I really enjoy getting to know the nonprofit clients because they are just super awesome," she said. "They’re always super ambitious and really want to help everyone that walks through their door which is something that I think we can all use a little bit of.”

Kataria recounted his favorite experience with SCNO when he worked as a project manager for a group consulting with Bedtime in a Box. He stated that he enjoyed the responsibility of the role and helping the organization expand its reach into the Washington, D.C. area. 

Baumgartner, who also consulted for Bedtime in a Box, discussed her appreciation for the nonprofit’s purpose.

“Their whole mission [is] early childhood education because there’s a lot of studies showing that between the ages of zero and five, if you fall behind that has huge consequences and impacts later in education,” she said.

Weng shared his experience working with the 29th Street Community Center. The Center was previously a branch of the Barclay Elementary/Middle School. Today, it serves as a community hub that provides after-school services to students and parents, such as sports activities and cooking classes. 

As part of the fundraising and budgeting committee, Weng’s work consisted of primarily two parts: obtaining funds by reaching out to donors and applying for grants, and maximizing that money by budgeting, tax reduction and financial planning. He explained how consulting for the nonprofit was eye-opening.

“Working with these organizations and visiting the locations has been a really humbling experience,” he said. “Even though we attend a school like Hopkins, we must also be aware that five minutes, 10 minutes, away, there are schools that are in dire need of support.”

In an interview with The News-Letter, sophomore Eric Alvarado recounted consulting for PDRC and helping redesign their website to make it more navigable and up-to-date. Although he joined the club undecided about his future career path, he stated that his experiences in SCNO have encouraged him to explore consulting.

“Even though I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, now I’m looking towards doing management consulting in the future, and being in SCNO has helped reaffirm that that is at least the initial career path I want to go down.” 

Baumgartner emphasized that SCNO is open to all students, no matter their academic background or work experience.

“We don’t care what your background is,” she said. “Everyone has something meaningful to contribute.”

Steven Simpson is a Photo Editor at The News-Letter and Senior Project Manager at SCNO. He did not contribute to the reporting, writing or editing of this article. 

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