students walk down alley in Africa during SOFE trip

Service Oriented Field Experience (SOFE)

SOFE (MNM 6770E-W) is an experiential learning capstone course offered within the Master of Nonprofit Management program. The SOFE program provides you with professional, real-world experience as you work directly in a nonprofit organization either abroad or in the local Denver community. SOFE programs are currently offered in East Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Mexico.

The Denver SOFE explores the disparities between wealth and poverty and the opportunities NPO's provide in addressing inequality. Students work to understand why these disparities exist and how to change them. The SOFE also provides an intense learning experience through individual and group work as well as many experiential opportunities.

student plays with child

At the end of each SOFE, students begin the process of self-discovery and internal recognition with regard to acculturated ideologies, beliefs, and perceptions about poverty and development. With a goal of increased understanding of social justice concerns in light of culture, poverty and community development, students develop a deep appreciation of their chosen destination's civil society/nonprofit community and gain an understanding of the issues of culture and poverty and their intersection in community development. The SOFE culminates in a quality graduate level paper that could benefit a local NGO developed in partnership with specific parter ogranizations.

The Denver SOFE explores the disparities between wealth and poverty and the opportunities NPO's provide in addressing inequality. Students work to understand why these disparities exist and how to change them. 

Students participate in activities such as dialogue with leaders in the nonprofit sector, service experiences with nonprofit workers, and an examination of the historical, social, political, economic and cultural conditions that create wealth and poverty.

Students may have an opportunity to connect and work with a nonprofit organization in the metro area for final project development and ongoing service opportunities. All students develop critical thought about the realities of income disparity and its effects on society.  Students will also formulate theoretical and practical methods for recognizing and solving these problems in the future.

During the East Africa SOFE, students explore the intersection of dynamics such as culture, environment, economics, politics and poverty. Students visit local and international non-profit/non-governmental organizations (NP/GOs) and contemplate actions to help improve organizations in the East African Third Sector. 

Students develop their studies and research in two different cities:

| Arusha, Tanzania: the nation’s fastest growing northern city and one of the largest metropolitan cities in East Africa with a strong international presence (population: approx. 516,000).

| Kampala, Uganda: the largest city and capital in Uganda with a diverse ethnic population and a high rate of poverty (population: approx. 1.2 million).

Be patient and observant instead of worried and frustrated when cultural norms are flipped upside down. Take the beautiful parts of it with you, and ask about the parts you don't understand. If certain laws, ways of life, customs, and actions amaze, disgust or frighten you, bring them up for discussion with your facilitator or fellow students. It is a learning experience, so pack a clear heart, open eyes and maybe a tough stomach.  Let yourself be completely emerged in all aspects of the SOFE - even the challenging ones. Tyler Breuer, MNM Alumni

Frequently Asked Questions

Program costs are based on the previous years visit and is subject to change.

The cost of the SOFE is made up of three parts:

  • In-Destination Experience Costs
  • Tuition per credit hour for an online course
  • Travel expenses to/from your home location

The in-destination experience includes:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Most meals
  • Tour entrance fees
  • Guest speakers, etc

The in-destination experience does not include:

  • Personal costs: bottled water, snacks, drinks, gifts, personal items you may purchase for yourself and additional transport costs (e.g. taxis) etc. not included in course-related excursions
  • Certain meals as indicated in the itinerary

In-Destination Experience Fee:
East Africa: $3,200 per participant
Denver: $869 per participant

A SOFE is the intersection between classroom work and community work. The work done on a SOFE informs your learning in the classroom, and you will take skills and ideas that you learn in the classroom with you as you work in the community. The learning during a SOFE is meaningful and deliberate through reflective thinking. In contrast, volunteering can be meaningful as well but is not usually connected to course material and can be more sporadic.

SOFE trips are limited to students in the Master of Nonprofit Management (MNM) program.

Students must have completed 30 credit hours to be eligible to enroll in a SOFE, and must take MNM 651 Research Methods for Nonprofit Organizations prior to the SOFE.

 

The registration process is the same as registering for any other course. There is no application process.

SOFE trips occur once a semester, usually in the 8W2 terms. However, faculty has the final say on specific dates of travel.

Experiences range from 9-13 days depending on destination. 

International SOFE trips require a passport and visa, as well as personal health insurance. For international SOFEs, additional emergency insurance will be purchased on your behalf. Recommended immunizations vary by country, consult the CDC for country-specific information.

There are two pre-meetings before the SOFE trip. One meeting is scheduled two months before the trip and the other a month before. Students are briefed on the logistics of the trip and course details. Distance students can call in and are not required to be physically present at the meetings. Trip facilitators will provide more information regarding travel, accommodations and packing, after students enroll in the course during this time.