SIFE members' passion for business can be powerful force for change

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Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), an international non-profit network of students, academics, and business leaders working with businesses and higher education organizations, is in the midst of its annual regional and national competitions.

As part of the competition, teams from participating academic organizations present their outreach projects to a panel of judges who evaluate those projects and determine which teams had the most impact improving the quality of life and standard of living for members of their community.

By contributing their talents to projects that improve the lives of people worldwide, SIFE participants seek to demonstrate that individuals with a knowledge and passion for business can be a powerful force for change.

This year's competition was marked by increased enthusiasm and participation, as well as a trend toward more teams and leagues at each regional site, according to Mat Burton, SIFE senior vice president of marketing.

The program model is designed to harness the business talents of network members for the benefit of people and communities around the world, while also providing meaningful opportunities for these leaders to connect, collaborate, and learn from one another.

SIFE competitions are challenging, team-oriented events that create a sense of accountability and motivation for teams to continually improve the quality of their projects. They also provide an opportunity for collaboration and best-practice sharing, further strengthening the value of the learning experience and the overall effectiveness of the program.

Every country that operates a SIFE program is eligible to organize a national competition. Countries with larger programs often will hold a series of regional competitions, with the winners from these events qualifying to participate in the national competition. The national champion from each country is then invited to compete at the SIFE World Cup.

At the competitions, SIFE teams present service projects they developed and implemented to create economic opportunity for others through education in market economics, entrepreneurship, personal and financial success skills, environmental sustainability, and business ethics. The competition requires a 24-minute oral presentation and video, accompanied by a four-page report, and is followed by questions from a panel of business executives. Teams are judged on the basis of needs addressed and the creativity and impact of their projects.

Burton pointed out that in previous years the leagues had been organized on two tracks, one for four-year institutions and one for two-year institutions, but that this year the tracks had been combined, leading to one overall champion at the SIFE National Competition.

For the 2010 competitions, all teams are judged on how effectively they created economic opportunity by helping others in the following criteria:

  • Understanding the operation of a market-based economic system
  • Acquiring the education and skills training needed to succeed in a dynamic, competitive global economy
  • Learning how to succeed as an entrepreneur and/or improve an existing business
  • Developing the personal financial management skills necessary to achieve financial independence
  • Making environmentally sustainable personal and business decisions
  • Understanding that the long-term success and prosperity of a market economy, businesses and individuals are dependent on ethical business practices
  • Successfully developing and executing a strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of their team and educational programs

For the next school year, SIFE already has approved a simplified system, reducing the seven criteria to one: "Considering the relevant economic, social, and environmental factors, which SIFE team most effectively empowered people in need by applying business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach to improve their quality of life and standard of living?"

The SIFE USA Competition is one of the largest collegiate competitions in the country. SIFE teams from more than 400 campuses competed this year in 12 regional competitions. One team will win the honor of being named a national champion and represent the United States at the SIFE World Cup.

This year, in March and April, SIFE teams from colleges and universities across the country competed in regional competitions. The winners were declared SIFE Regional Champions and will compete at the 2010 SIFE USA National Exposition.

Regional champions and runners up are listed below. The champions listed from each region will be competing at the SIFE USA National Exposition in Minneapolis, May 11-13.

Orange County: Feather River College, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Whittier College, La Sierra University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Vanguard University of Southern California, Azusa Pacific University, Northwest Missouri State University, University of Arizona.

Minneapolis: AIB College of Business, The University of South Dakota, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Briar Cliff University, North Central University, Viterbo University, St. Norbert College, University of Minnesota-Crookston, University of Saint Thomas, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, Southwest Minnesota State University, University of Northern Colorado.

Philadelphia: Messiah College, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Elizabethtown College, Penn State Altoona, Immaculata University, York College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Biblical University, Washington College, Carnegie Mellon University, Mount St. Mary’s University, Montgomery College, Ursinus College, Eastern University, The University of Scranton.

Cleveland: Berea College, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Roberts Wesleyan College, Anderson University, Malone University, SUNY Oswego, D’Youville College, Loraine County Community College, University of Notre Dame, Cedarville University, John Carroll University, Keuka College, Baldwin-Wallace College, Hilbert College.

New York City: Maine Maritime Academy, St. Bonaventure University, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac University, Elmira College, LIM College, Susquehanna University, Centenary College, Wilkes University, Bryant University, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Monroe College, Syracuse University.

Charlotte: Anderson University, Erskine College, Saint Francis University, University of Charleston, William Jewell College, Blue Ridge Community College, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Ferrum College, Flagler College, Bennett College, Mountain State University, Canisius College, West Virginia Wesleyan College, College of Charleston, Winthrop University.

Dallas: Langston University, Ozarks Technical Community College, Wichita State University, Louisiana State University and A&M College, Oral Roberts University, Texas A&M University, Pittsburg State University, Southern Arkansas University, Texas A&M International University, Ouachita Baptist University, University of Texas at Tyler, Redlands Community College, Southwestern Adventist University, Texas State University, The University of Texas at Dallas, Northeast Texas Community College, St. Mary’s University, Central Texas College, University of Arkansas.

Atlanta: Lincoln Memorial University, Valdosta State University, Alcorn State University, Gainesville State College, Tennessee State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Southeastern University, Fisk University, University of Florida, Western Kentucky University, Eckerd College, University of Georgia, University of North Florida, Belmont University, Benedictine College, University of South Florida, Emory and Henry College, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Albany State University, Fayetteville State University, Southern Adventist University, The University of Alabama.

San Francisco: Hartnell College, Northwest Nazarene University, Oregon State University, California State University-Chico, Heritage University, Wheeling Jesuit University, Bakersfield College, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, Northeastern Junior College, City University, Washington State University.

Chicago: Alma College, Carthage College, Alverno College, Aquinas College, Indiana University East, Drake University, Lake Superior State University, Taylor University, Graceland University, Loyola University of Chicago, Rock Valley College, Indiana University at Bloomington, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Cornerstone University, Indiana Wesleyan University, North Central College, Missouri Baptist University, The University of Findlay, Wheaton College, Andrews University, Olivet Nazarene University, Ripon College, Central Methodist University, Valparaiso University, Mount Mercy College, University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Honolulu: Brigham Young University-Hawaii, University of Hawaii West Oahu.

Rogers: John Brown University, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Harding University, Truman State University, University of the Ozarks, West Texas A&M University, Drury University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of the Ozarks, Southwest Baptist University

The 2009 international competition was held in Berlin. International World Cup Winner was French University in Egypt and runner-up was Alpha Arts & Science College in India. The U.S. Champions in 2009 were Flagler College, Saint Augustine, Florida, and Central Texas College, Killeen, Texas. 2009 first-runners up were Drury University, Springfield, Missouri, and Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland.

About SIFE:

SIFE was founded in 1975 and its U.S. branch is headquartered in St. Louis. Alvin Rohrs is the president and CEO. SIFE's goal is to "mobilize university students around the world to use knowledge gained in the classroom to address real-world business and economic issues in their communities. SIFE students form teams in their educational communities and perform community service projects that teach market economics, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, personal success skills, business ethics, and environmental sustainability."

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