Hundreds of college students from across the country visit KC to help out a local nonprofits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A lot of nonprofits want to do good things, but they need good staff to make it happen.

That's why 400 college students traveled to Kansas City this week. They're here for the Alliance Management Institute -- the 70th so far.

The attendees are already helping local nonprofits.

Many of the students at this national conference took a trip to Kansas City, but not Sydney Hunter.

“I actually grew up in this YMCA, the Cleaver Family YMCA," Hunter said. "My grandparents live down the street, and I used to swim here as a kid, so this place means a lot to me."

One day, she wants to give back to the community that did so much for her.

“We really get them out into the community," said Susan Tomlinson Schmidt, the president of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. "Today the students will be going to all different kinds of nonprofits and volunteering their expertise."

The Alliance Management Institute is an educational symposium, run by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, for students wanting nonprofit jobs -- but it includes real work.

The college students have spent the last three days visiting local nonprofits, finding challenges and thinking of ways to overcome them.

“Because of this experience, they'll go on to their first job better prepared than their peers who don't have our credential, which is the certified nonprofit professional,” Tomlinson Schmidt said.

“We hope to bring some fresh ideas and new expertise to their organizational issues,” Hunter said.

Hunter spent the day at the YMCA, just one of the nonprofits participating in the conference.

“There's nothing more important than networking with people who have been in the sector for many years," Hunter said. "They know how it works, and they know what to expect and what to tell us to expect."

Tomlinson Schmidt said it can connect young talent with nonprofits looking for qualified staff.

“LinkedIn did a study for us, and because of that, they'll go on to their first job seven times more likely to be a leader in that organization,” she said.

And Hunter definitely agrees with that study.

“I feel like I'm much more prepared after the weekend," Hunter said. "Just hearing from people who are in the field with the experience is something that is really invaluable."