LINCOLN, NEB. —Haley Schepers of Adel was part of the Strive to Thrive project that recently awarded grants to two nonprofits: the Still Waters Equestrian Academy in Hickman ($6,000) and the Lincoln Police Department ($4,000). The grant project is aimed at local nonprofits and initiated by students in the Leading People and Project Management course in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Business Administration.

Tyler Zeller, a senior business administration major from Omaha and a student in the class, described the experience as a unique opportunity for students to have an impact in the area. The students conducted hours of research, reviewing 45 initial applications and visiting 16 finalists at their facilities.

"I was very interested in the passion each of these organizations poured into their pursuits, and I was genuinely interested in what they had to say," Zeller said. "So it was very easy for us to discuss at length the great works that they envisioned."

The equestrian academy grant funding will supply saddles for a new children's therapeutic riding program, Morning Star Riding Center. The academy's mission is to share the passion for riding with all. The new riding center will expand the goal of helping youth with physical or emotional disabilities.

"Our goal is never to turn anyone away," said Char Cole, president of the academy. "With a grant like this, we'll be able to get the equipment we need to make that goal a reality for riders of any ability."

The Lincoln Police Department funding will expand a program that purchases bicycles for youth and adopts families in need during the holidays. The department will donate 25 bicycles and adopt three families in 2016. The program is a partnership between the police department, Lincoln Public Schools, Cycle Works of Lincoln and Trader Joe's.

"It's such a gift to the community to be able to expand the program like this," said Officer Shannon Karl, who coordinates the program.

The grant recipients were honored at a reception Nov. 29 at the Champions Club.

To be eligible for the grants, the nonprofits had to have federal 501(c)(3) status as a tax-exempt charitable organization and focus on helping children. Applicants outlined what made their organization unique, the expected reach of their project and their ability to successfully execute the project.

The management class gives undergraduate and graduate students a better understanding of the philanthropic process. Students learn how to initiate funding, create proposals, evaluate applications and are responsible for awarding the $10,000 in grant funding. The class is taught by lecturer Amber Messersmith and funds are provided by the Learning by Giving Foundation, founded by Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire investor and CBA graduate Warren Buffett.

For more information on Strive to Thrive, visit