How One Alum is Bringing Business Rigor to the Nonprofit World

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Jason Riddle joined Protiviti Atlanta as a Consultant in 2005 after graduating from the University of Georgia, and was a Manager by the time he moved on in 2010. After stints at NimbleWise and the daily business talk show “Butler on Business,” Jason’s passion for economics led him to the Foundation for Economic Education, where he now serves as Director of Programs & Alumni Relations. In addition to his love of education and economics, Jason enjoys traveling, playing guitar, and reading. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.

Jasonriddle1How did you get your start at Protiviti?

At the time, Protiviti and the Atlanta office were very new. That appealed to me because the people at the top had come from Andersen, so they had the knowledge and skills in the industry, and yet there was also a small, start-up feel.

I felt that it was a unique opportunity to be a part of something growing and to help define what the company and culture would be like. To this day, Protiviti holds a very special place in my heart. I really love the company and still feel like a part of the Protiviti family.

Let’s talk about your current role. What led you to the Foundation for Economic Education?

I have always been very passionate about education and teaching and communicating ideas that I think are important. That fit in nicely with my role at Protiviti – taking information, observing clients, and packaging that together to communicate opportunities of improvement for businesses. When I left, I knew I wanted to do something more explicitly in the education field, but I didn’t want to go into academia.

I gravitated to the Foundation for Economic Education based on personal interests. I’ve always been interested in economics and the ways society can influence social and economic progress; over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time digging into those ideas.

My role now revolves around designing and planning our seminar programs for around 1,500 students per year.  It’s a dream come true to work here because FEE has been incredibly influential in my own development.

What are you working on right now?

I recently designed a 40-lesson course for high school students on the economics of entrepreneurship. It’s a set of ready-to-go lessons that include activities and discussion guides. And it’s very modular – it can be used in its entirety or to supplement existing teaching plans. It’s been very popular for homeschooling and charter schools, but has also been used in high schools and colleges.

It was our first time testing the market to see if we wanted to invest in course materials as a product line. We went live in August with the goal of reaching 3,000 students and our expectations were really blown out of the water. We will be reaching 15,000 students this fall.

What’s next for you?

We’re currently in the process of building an online learning platform to provide a more engaging user experience and we’ll be marketing that heavily in early 2016 to reach a wider audience.

My next big project is something called Economics in One Day. It’s a workshop guide developed for non-economists, who are unfamiliar with the subject material, to learn enough so they can teach the material to local student clubs or organizations. Our goal is to get the ideas out there, so all of the materials are free.

What do you think has made you successful in this role?

A problem that plagues the nonprofit world is that there are organizations that produce really good materials, but no one uses it because there’s a huge focus on content creation and not enough on distribution.

So the last two years, we have been defining strategic objectives. We are bringing a lot of business rigor that doesn’t typically exist in the nonprofit world to really drive results. This is really something that I was able to take from Protiviti, and it’s helping us create meaningful experiences for our students and better educate the next generation of leaders.

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