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Global Values get a Boost from Grant Thornton

Hands-On Learning

This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.

Global Values get a Boost from Grant Thornton

A gift of $50,000 from Grant Thornton LLP will extend partnerships between Bentley University and nongovernmental organizations in Ghana such as the Mmofra Trom Center. The leading audit, tax and advisory firm, which has offices in 100 countries, is also collaborating with the campus chapter of Beta Alpha Psi to help train financial officers of student organizations.

Much of the funding opens doors for Bentley students to use their knowledge for the greater social good. Recipients of Grant Thornton Global Social Responsibility (GSR) Internship awards will work to improve transparency of their accounting systems.

“The expense of international travel, coupled with the missed opportunity to earn summer income, can be a real show-stopper for students – even for those with a deep interest in global social responsibility,” explains Professor of Management Diane Kellogg, program director of the Mmofra Trom Project.

Jay Garneau ’09 is a case in point. “My heart was set on going to Africa, but financially it was tough,” he says. “Backing out of [the internship] would have created a huge ‘what if’ that would have been with me for the rest of my life.”

Access to Opportunity

Thanks to the funding, Garneau was among four students who completed an eight-week GSR Internship in summer 2009. He and Andrew Josuweit ’09 worked at microfinance NGO Chapter 58 Trust, while Brian DiPasquale ’09 MSF delved into microfinance at ACCION International. Jacqueline Le ’11 interned at the Mmofra Trom Center, which provides access to education, health care, job-skills training, and other opportunities for orphans and their extended families.

The partnership between the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility and the Mmofra Trom Center began in 2006. Students and faculty visit Ghana regularly to better understand developing economies and to work with the center. The GSR Student Travel Fund, started by Bentley faculty, is an additional resource that supports overseas opportunities.

On a more local level, the Grant Thornton Beta Alpha Psi Treasurer’s Training Program will serve students who have taken financial leadership roles in campus organizations. Company officials are teaming up with Beta Alpha Psi members to design and deliver training for student treasurers, focused on basic skills and best practices around topics such as budgeting, tracking expenditures, and making payments.

Creative Momentum

Grant Thornton builds on its roots as a small firm with a family mindset to embrace global values that promote collaboration, leadership, excellence, agility, respect and responsibility. Integrating corporate social responsibility is an ongoing priority, says Grant Thornton partner Andrew Wilson ’86.

“This gift allows us to support Bentley in a way that is creative and somewhat outside the box,” he notes. “The global aspect also builds awareness and gives students a flavor for businesses that operate in a multinational environment. The Beta Alpha Psi Treasurer’s Training Program takes our donation a step further by giving recent Grant Thornton professionals a chance to work directly with the students.”

Leonard Morrison, managing director of corporate relations at Bentley, sees an exciting momentum in the new projects underway.

“Having a firm like Grant Thornton behind initiatives at Bentley may drive other organizations to think about how they can support broader society and future leaders,” he observes. “Grant Thornton’s mission is in line with many of the goals at Bentley, so it’s a terrific fit.”

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