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Goodwill’s O’Donnell earns full scholarship

By Staff | Feb 12, 2015

Kirsten O’Donnell pretty much started Goodwill of Southwest Florida’s social media strategy from scratch. Today, it is helping the organization grow and reach new people as well as helping the community as a whole.

For that, she was awarded a full scholarship, thanks to Goodwill’s new partnership with a school of higher learning.

GII has partnered with the University of Phoenix to award employees who have demonstrated ambition with the potential of growing into executive positions at 10 of Gll’s 165 independent, community-based agencies across the United States and Canada.

O’Donnell was named one of only 10 Goodwill employees nationwide to receive the award.

O’Donnell, who has worked with Goodwill for seven years, serves as director of public relations and marketing. She plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration with her scholarship.

O’Donnell said she was part of a leadership program Goodwill put on last year, a requirement to receive the scholarship. Toward the end of summer, Goodwill announced the partnership and the scholarship program and saw it as an opportunity.

“I applied. I had to get letters of recommendation and write essays, and was a recipient,” O’Donnell said. “I was excited because I learned through the leadership program that I wanted to get more business education.”

O’Donnell said she has already begun to work on her degree and expects to complete her masters online in 18 months to two years.

According to the company, O’Donnell used her work ethic and strengths as a marketer and communicator to grow Goodwill SWFL’s social media channels from the ground up.

Her grassroots social media strategy helped to build a solid social community which also talked up the services offered by Goodwill SWFL.

Today, these channels are part of the organization’s growth strategy to continue helping the community and additionally reach new people who might need the service Goodwill provides.

University of Phoenix will offer 10 full-tuition scholarships for the next three years as part of their partnership with GII, which Goodwill said is meant to address the nation’s skills gap by providing Goodwill employees with reduced tuition for degree programs as well as certificate programs and professional development courses.

Also, through GII’s corporate university, The Helm, University of Phoenix will offer a 10 percent tuition discount for all Goodwill employees and provide three-year funding for a diversity and inclusion initiative and sponsorship of an internship program. Additionally, University of Phoenix will support GII national conferences and events with funding for three years.

O’Donnell said it’s a great opportunity to move up within the company.

“There are a lot of organizations that offer educational reimbursement. I believe if your organization is willing to invest in you that you, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of it,” O’Donnell said. “I didn’t hesitate when it was offered.”

Goodwill SWFL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry & Glades counties.