Students Launch Non-Profits on Campus

Though student enterprises are prohibited by the Blue Book, a recent string of student non-profits have launched this fall, under the auspices of the Dean of Students.

The Blue Book outlines that “running or serving as an agent for any business while on campus” is a major offense, meaning students involved in a business without the school’s consent could face disciplinary action.

Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, said, “My sense is that a business is anything that’s making a profit or taking money…I think the lines going to be blurred over time, about what a business is, what’s a non-profit, what’s free.”

“The idea behind the rule is that there’s enough to do here, and we don’t want people to be tempted to spend a lot of time on maintaining the business. Then it gets in the way of your studies,” he continued

The launch of the iAndover mobile application, created by Greg Hosono ’14 and Makenzie Schwartz ’14, first raised concerns about student businesses.

Murphy said, “The app is not really a business. Hosono and Schwartz created something for free. But again, I would hate for anyone to spend too much time on something that is not academic or extra-curricular related.”

The most recently established non-profit student business is the Haitian Arts Relief Project (HARP), started by Michael Kim ’13.

HARP exhibits Haitian artwork and facilitates auctions of the pieces. Profits from auction help purchase art supplies for the artists and go towards building churches, schools and bathrooms in Haiti.

HARP is currently a social enterprise, meaning that though it accumulates income most of the revenue goes to a charitable cause.

The HARP project currently has an ongoing exhibition in Steinbach Lobby.

According to Kim, he had to ask Murphy for permission to hold the art exhibition and use Steinbach Lobby. Murphy has also granted Kim permission to sell the art, which he plans to start doing after Thanksgiving Break.

Kim said, “I applied for HARP to be a club last year, but it didn’t get approved. Right now, I’m doing it as an individual project, but next year, I’m definitely hoping to create a club or an organization here at Phillips Academy to continue the project.”

Sponsr.Us, founded by Eric Ouyang ’13 and Hosono, is another student business, recently established with the help from Thought into Action (TIA), a pilot entrepreneurship program for Andover students.

Sponsr.Us plans to provide grants for student projects. The program relies on small donations from a large amount of people to fund these projects.

Sponsr.Us hopes to operate with a non-profit status. Hosono and Ouyang have applied to become a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization, and are now waiting for a response to their application from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The IRS describes a 501(c)(3) organization as one that, “is organized and operated exclusively for charity. To qualify, the organization must be a corporation, community chest, fund or foundation. A trust is a fund or foundation and will qualify. However, an individual or a partnership will not qualify.”

Hosono and Ouyang are currently working with Lowell High School, but because their 501(c)(3) application has not been approved yet, their project is still in a trial stage.

Though Hosono understands that the school does not encourage student businesses because of concern over their effect on students’ academic performance, he believes that developing the iAndover application and being involved in has not had a negative impact on his studies or grades.

Over Murphy’s time as Dean of Students, no student has actually faced disciplinary consequences for starting a business on campus.

Several students have started non-profit organizations in the past. The first club that became a business was Andover Economics Society (AES).

In 2006, AES Co-Presidents Conor Sutherland ’06 and James Kelly ’06, Chief Financial Advisor Ishani Vellodi ’06 and Aggressive Growth Funds Manager/Development Officer John Badman ’06 officially incorporated the organization, giving the club legal status as a business that was able to generate revenue.

AES used its business status to buy and sell stocks, allowing its members to gain real-life experience in investing in the stock market.

However, any money that AES made was re-invested back into the stock market, so that the club remained a non-profit.