A particularly ambitious group of students at the URI College of Business are applying the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom to improve the community. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club (IEC) at the college has partnered with the Greater Providence Habitat for Humanity on Project ReStore.
“Habitat ReStores are secondhand home improvement stores that sell items far below retail. Their purpose is to create a stream of revenue to aid the surrounding community and build self-reliance,” says Margaux Bessette, (former) president and founder of the IEC, who co-leads Project ReStore with rising senior Dante Driscoll.
Under the direction of Mark Kravatz, Executive Director of the Greater Providence Habitat for Humanity, these URI students are working towards opening a ReStore in the Greater Providence area by the spring of 2022. “There are hundreds around the country but none in northern Rhode Island, where the need is great,” says Bessette.
The group follows an internship model which “has significantly contributed to the ongoing success of this partnership” says Kravatz. Six sub-groups are charged with all aspects of the project from finance and real estate to marketing and logistics.
“This project is unique because Habitat has established a team of professionals that provide professional guidance and mentorship to the students. These students can freely collaborate with these industry leaders and receive guidance. Together, they work to support the vision and mission of Project ReStore” explains Kravitz.
Far more than a group project, this venture has given students a tremendous opportunity to be at the forefront of a hands-on project, with real-world impact. “The entire College of Business is extremely proud of the I&E Club for exhibiting maturity, dedication, and perseverance throughout this project” says club advisor David Mitchell. “They are outstanding representatives for the University of Rhode Island, particularly to our business partners. They are using their classroom knowledge to improve our community.”