Northern Illinois University launches 40TUDE-Available to Small Businesses & Nonprofits

DeKalb, IL – Northern Illinois University students are helping DeKalb County small businesses and nonprofits amp up their digital presence and respond to community needs, thanks to a new collaborative program created by NIU, DeKalb County UNITES, OC Creative, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, and the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership.

40TUDE is the name of the program, representing the strength of the community working together to support all sectors in successfully navigating the 2020 pandemic.  40TUDE will harness the power of NIU and community experts to meet needs now. NIU students will work under the direction and mentorship of university faculty and local industry experts to help businesses create or update their social media, website, and e-commerce for minimal cost and to help nonprofits analyze data and communicate effectively to respond to community needs.

Early in the pandemic, DeKalb County UNITES was established to provide support and encouragement to the small business sector. At the same time, the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership created the DeKalb County COVID-19 Response Fund. In these partnerships, community and university leaders listened to businesses and nonprofits to find out how they were doing and what they needed to respond to the COVID crisis.

Market research conducted by DeKalb County UNITES demonstrated the tremendous disadvantages experienced by small businesses without a digital presence. Small nonprofit organizations face similar barriers. 40TUDE Business and 40TUDE Nonprofits were born out of these outreach efforts and respond to the most pressing needs identified in both sectors.

“In 40TUDE Business, NIU students, under the direction and mentorship of talented local experts from OC Creative and NIU College of Business marketing faculty, will provide high-quality services that would not otherwise be affordable or available,” explains Jennifer Groce, 40TUDE coordinator and NIU director of community promotion. “We’re grateful to OC Creative and the NIU College of Business for making it possible to serve businesses while NIU students gain valuable work experience.”

While 40TUDE Business will focus on helping small businesses build a web presence, 40TUDE Nonprofit will provide free, meaningful support to nonprofits in four key areas: data collection and analysis, fundraising, communications, and volunteer services. NIU Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies faculty and students will complete the work in consultation with the DeKalb County COVID-19 Response Fund Committee and the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership.

“Many nonprofits are seeing an increased need for their services right now,” says Professor Alicia Schatteman, director of the NIU Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies. “At the same time, they’re struggling to reimagine their fundraising without in-person events. Nonprofit leaders have told us they need data analysis to help them apply for grants, as well as support in communicating effectively with their donors and volunteers.”

Businesses and nonprofits located in or serving the Northern Illinois region are eligible, with priority given to those located in DeKalb County. Services will be provided through the end of 2020 and evaluated for ongoing needs in 2021. “These won’t be just semester-long projects,” says Brian Oster, owner of OC Creative. “The 40TUDE teams will evaluate and respond to the needs of clients in real-time.”

Information about the program and how to apply can be found on the following websites:

40TUDE Business – DeKalb County UNITES

40TUDE Nonprofit – NIU Center for Nonprofit and NGO studies