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Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics has announced Bronco Corps, a program that launched August 2020 to help students who have lost internship opportunities due to COVID find work with Idaho’s small businesses and nonprofits.

The idea for Bronco Corps was presented to the college by COBE advisory council member David Wali, who is also the executive vice president of the real estate firm Gardner Company, said a press release. Wali recognized that nonprofits and small businesses are struggling during the pandemic, and that many college students have been unable to find internships in the current economic climate. He wanted to create a program to benefit both groups. Partnering together with Laird Norton Properties, a real estate investment firm, the companies gave the college a gift to fund 20 interns placed at Idaho small businesses and nonprofits.

“Laird Norton and the Gardner Company invested in Idaho because of its dynamic economy and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Wali. “Bronco Corps is our way of mentoring the next generation of leaders during this turbulent time.”

Relief for Idaho small businessesEmployers can work with COBE Career Services Director Laura Chiuppi to create job descriptions for positions and to recruit students for the role. There is no cost to participate; Boise State pays the interns with the donated funds.

Organizations can get help with duties such as creating online or mobile business sites, finding solutions to supply chain issues, creating a marketing campaign and assisting with business operations, or human resource or accounting challenges.

“We have partnered with the Small Business Development Center, the City of Boise, and the Idaho Nonprofit Center to understand the needs in the community and how we can help,” Chiuppi said. “We are identifying new opportunities every week and initiating connections between these businesses and our students.”

Paid experience for studentsStudents are paid through Boise State for their work and may be eligible for course credit through their individual academic department. In addition, students will gain experience and opportunity to make a difference in the local community. Students can find Bronco Corps internships listed on Handshake and on the COBE Career Services Internship and Job Board.

“As the fundraising strategist intern for the American Red Cross, I work on ways to spread awareness, build relationships and ultimately research how to fundraise during our current events,” said Breanne Lobenberg, a Boise State marketing major and current Bronco Corps intern. “I am learning how much American Red Cross does all over the country and how important it is that they receive these donations to fulfill their humanitarian mission. I am grateful to be a part of the Bronco Corps program, and to be making a positive impact in the community.”

Idaho small businesses and nonprofits in need of assistance from a Bronco Corps member can contact Chiuppi at

The program is currently operating with a limited budget. Those interested in financially supporting and sustaining the program should contact Perrine Blakley, director of gift planning in University Advancement, at

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