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Bronco Corps connects students with Idaho small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID

Photo by John Kelly

The College of Business and Economics (COBE) announces the creation of Bronco Corps, a program designed 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. 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 a gift that will fund 20 interns to help 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 businesses

Employers will work with COBE Career Services Director Laura Chiuppi to create job descriptions for their positions of greatest need and to recruit students for the role. There is no cost to participate; Boise State pays the interns with 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, 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 students

Students will be 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. “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.”

Get involved

If you own or work for an Idaho small business or nonprofit that is in need of assistance from a Bronco Corps member, contact Chiuppi at

The program currently is 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