Beyond the MBA Classroom: Building Goodness at Darden

When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment, but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

Every spring, Darden School of Business students take a day to partner with area contractors and builders to rehabilitate houses in the Charlottesville area for low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners. The preparations for “build day” take much of the school year. Students involved with the Building Goodness Foundation select the projects, coordinate the suppliers and volunteers, collect the necessary funds and apply for permits. In December, the organization sponsors a formal ball as a fundraiser for the event. The event features a live auction between a cocktail hour and a sit-down dinner and dancing. In December 2008 (in preparation for the April 2009 build day), popular items up for auction included an old-fashioned Virginia crab feast for ten; an afternoon of wine tasting at a local vineyard, including a picnic lunch and driver; risotto-cooking lessons for five with homemade tiramisu for dessert; and a poker night for eight to ten people at Professor Peter Rodriguez’s house with beer, chili and the starting cash of the night included.

One student blogger who participated in the event in April 2009 (as a first-year student) raved about it, saying, “It was a genuine gesture of giving, and it was extremely rewarding.” On that build day, he said, 165 students and 100 contractors worked to improve ten houses and two playgrounds, thereby giving back to the Charlottesville-area community that hosts Darden MBAs for two years.

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at Darden and 13 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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