From Surviving to THRIVE-ing

School of Professional & Continuing Education (SPCE)

Professional & Continuing Education’s (PCE) mission is to advance JMU’s vision by responding to individual, business, and community needs through transformative education programs and experiences. In support of that mission, we are preparing to launch Project THRIVE: a facilitated curriculum created directly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and designed to help cohorts of local businesses and nonprofits move from surviving to thriving. Project THRIVE will create opportunities for local businesses and nonprofits to come together, share their stories, rethink their current practices, and implement innovative solutions.

Project_THRIVE_2.pngOver the course of 6 weeks, facilitators will lead their respective cohorts through the following topics:

+  Assessing their current situation.
+  Understanding customers/clients and reimagining their needs.
+  Helping customers/clients through innovative solutions.
+  Creating a roadmap for resilience and reform.
+  Marketing to and retaining cautious customers/clients.
+  Reassessment and long- term planning.



Each week will consist of two group meetings, one focused on the curriculum and one on open discussion, but both serve to establish an ongoing cycle of sharing, advice, implementation, and assessment among participants. Our own Dr. Nicholas Swartz, PCE Associate Dean and Associate Professor has extensive experience with the creation and facilitation of similar programs and has seen firsthand the value of the peer-to-peer collaboration component. Participants are able to offer each other feedback from the customer/stakeholder perspective because they are customers/stakeholders. They can offer advice based on their own efforts and experiences. The cohort model gives rise to a sense of community and partnership where everyone shares a responsibility to be open, honest, and willing. Participants will, no doubt, come from a variety of backgrounds and that will only serve to make the program stronger.

At the conclusion of the Project THRIVE curriculum, we hope to assist local organizations further define and implement their new ideas with interdisciplinary student teams and competitive grants, but more on that later! The pilot program will roll out in early 2021 with two cohorts in the City of Harrisonburg. In future phases, we will expand the program to surrounding areas and hope to package it for implementation in areas across the United States.  While COVID-19 relief has inspired Project THRIVE’s conception, our ultimate goal is a flexible system that empowers any community to address their own unique needs.

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Published: Saturday, November 7, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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