Pro Bono Projects

In our co-curricular pro bono consulting projects, teams of undergraduate and graduate students work together to solve real business problems for their clients.

The clients are typically dynamic new or small businesses in the DC area and beyond, and our students get to help them grow and thrive. These projects are among the many ways we incorporate experiential learning into a holistic business education at Kogod School of Business.

Why should I do a pro bono consulting project?

You’ll gain valuable practical experience as a member of a real consulting team. Just like a consulting firm would, we assemble the best team based on the business needs of the client and the backgrounds and interests of the students. 

You’ll work alongside students from across American University programs whose experience complements your own. You’ll grow your network and learn from one another. You’ll work with exciting companies often in the early stages of their business, giving you the opportunity to do a lot and see real results.

Past pro bono clients include:

  • Great Dwellings, a multinational hospitality and property management company
  • Studio Aorta, a minority-owned creative studio
  • Life by Dallas/True Pop Popcorn, a non-GMO, healthier popcorn
  • Meaningful Gigs, a company connecting clients to Africa's best digital designers
  • Lead for Liberation (formerly Teach to Lead), an organizational culture redesign firm
  • Under One Umbrella, a platform showcasing fashion and wares from around the world
  • Undebted, a social enterprise aimed at relieving student loan debt
  • GOODProjects, an organization dedicated to empowering youth and their families to live fulfilling lives free from poverty
  • International Family Union, a non-governmental organization (NGO) serving international students
  • TruePublic/TrueTeams, an opinion platform capturing the honest opinions of the world – both inside and outside organizations
  • First Bridge Centre, a start-up providing early intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related conditions
  • HumorCure, an app-based wellness platform that uses humor to fight stress
  • Spice Journeys, an innovative, non-traditional storytelling media house
  • Xceede Solutions, a boutique management consulting firm that provides Salesforce tech solutions
  • Upace, a membership app for recreation centers
  • Ally Power, a hydrogen and electric gas station company

What will I learn?

All pro bono project participants learn to work in collaborative teams and perform client-facing consulting work. You’ll develop your communication and critical thinking skills in a non-classroom context, while at the same time, you can apply what you've learned in the classroom and from your past experiences. Your team will work closely with the client throughout the project and will establish a deep relationship. Over half of our pro bono partners employ AU alumni, so you'll be growing your network as well.

You’ll learn to manage project timelines and create client deliverables. A Kogod engagement manager supports your team and the client on a regular basis throughout the project. You'll have faculty mentors and AU resources. The AU Consulting Club, American University's student-run club with a focus on consulting, provides assistance in sourcing students and providing hands-on training before the launch of the projects. Projects are generally three months long and are launched every Fall, Spring and Summer.

You’ll also learn new skills based on the project you’re assigned. In past projects, students have done:

  • logistics and operations strategy
  • financial modeling
  • data analytics
  • management consulting
  • internal training strategy
  • marketing strategy
  • go-to-market strategy
  • social media strategy
  • business development strategy

What Students Say

“This project offered me completely different opportunities from week to week,” says Scott Schneider, a second-year MBA student who worked on the Great Dwellings team. “There is no one-size-fits-all in consulting, but we were able to use the skills we previously learned about communication and anticipating the needs of a client and apply it here.”

Schneider’s teammate Lisa Francis, a MBA student and assistant director of admissions at Kogod, appreciated the freedom the team had to act as a real consulting team would. “We were given the runway to come up with our own process and our own cadence of deliverables. We really drove the ship, and as long as the client was happy and gave us great feedback, we continued to move forward.”

"Since I started this project, I fell in love with consulting. This project has been an extremely rewarding experience overall, for all of us on the project," said Jimena Rotondo, BA '21, who worked on a project for True Pop Popcorn, an air-popped, non-GMO popcorn created by a doctor who saw a need for healthier snacks.

Some students found the nature of the projects required them to use their knowledge in new ways. "My background is purely finance, numbers and tech," said Max Valinksy, BS '21, who worked for StudioAorta, a woman-and-minority-owned creative design studio. "This project—who the client is and what the client represents—provided me with a very different way of using my financial background and gave me an opportunity to develop new skillsets."

What Business Clients Say

"We've worked with a lot of professional consultants, and this student team was on par with them and was even better than the professionals in terms of insights and creativity," says Jonathan Krieger, CEO of HumorCure. "We've paid thousands of dollars for professional consultants with way more experience, and we didn't get what this team gave us."

The team far exceeded our expectations. 

They have given us insights and perspectives that we certainly would not have had on our own. The goal of the project was for the team to study the viability of our company entering into a new business segment and how to best go about this."


Karl Scarlett

Karl Scarlett

Founder, Great Dwellings

The student consulting team is doing a GRAND job, not just great.

This project is helping our company to cement our foundation and our approach for our next phase with venture capitalists. I want to hire these students!"


Joseph Alfred

CEO, Ally Power

Are you an AU student interested in joining a project? Visit our current student hub for more details (login required.) Are you a business leader looking for a smart team to solve your business needs? If so, contact Angela Petras, assistant dean of experiential learning, to learn more about pro bono consulting projects.