Making a Difference One Brownie at a Time

Students in the Beta Gamma Sigma chapter at Marist College support community nonprofit by selling one of its most popular products.

This past spring, a student project at the Marist College School of Management in Poughkeepsie, New York, demonstrated how one personal connection can lead to opportunities for student learning and community impact. In fall 2018, alumnus and advisory board member Greg Garville brought the faculty’s attention to Greyston Bakery, located in nearby Yonkers, New York. The nonprofit bakery was special, Garville noted, not just because ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry uses its brownies as the star ingredients in both its Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Half Baked flavors. The bakery also adopts an “open hiring” policy, which its website describes as “hiring without interviews, résumés, background checks, or applications.”

Greyston’s objective is not only to level the playing field for those who might experience discrimination as a result of their race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, but also to employ those who might be excluded from the workforce because of their criminal or socioeconomic backgrounds. Its mission is to “build a new system of social and economic relationships that put people at the center of all we do. Our Open Hiring Model holds the potential to change the world—one company, one job, one person at a time.”

In November 2018, Marist faculty and students toured the bakery, which sparked an idea: Why not sell Greyston’s brownies on campus to raise funds for the bakery? This past spring Marist’s chapter of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society sold and delivered care packages of brownies during the school’s exam period. Students sold 855 brownies, raising US$2,100 for the bakery.

The business school also invited Greyston’s account manager, Sunitha Malieckal, to be keynote speaker for its Ethics Week, held April 8 to 12. With the topic of her speech, “Ethical Business Still Makes a Profit,” Malieckal further reinforced this message: Businesses can do well even as they do good.