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January 5, 2021

BYU Graduate Students Assess Volunteer Efforts

Graduate students from the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business spent fall semester assessing The Younique Foundation’s volunteer engagement.

Defend Innocence is a brand of The Younique Foundation, with a mission to eradicate child sexual abuse and its effects. National statistics state that one in five children is sexually abused before age 18 (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys). Defend Innocence provides free educational resources to parents, caregivers, and community leaders to empower them to protect the children they love. Additionally, it provides a number of volunteer opportunities for those passionate about this cause.

Students McKayla Caress, Liz Lund, Ashley Haskell, Jorge Morales, and Hanna Burgin spent the semester researching the nonprofit’s efforts and data in recruiting volunteers, encouraging community use of its online educational resources, and tracking downloads and use of its online materials.

The students are part of BYU’s Grantwell program, a student-run, faculty-advised consulting program. The program provides students the chance to apply the nonprofit management expertise they learn in the classroom to real-world projects.

The group offered recommendations related to vision, outreach, and retaining volunteers. “Working with BYU's Grantwell students has been wonderful,” said Karen Brown, Outreach Manager for The Younique Foundation. “The students helped us review and reinvigorate aspects of our volunteer program. We are already implementing some of their recommendations into an upcoming website update.”

Student Hanna Burgin said she recently became a new mother and has a strong desire to see her daughter grow up in safety and love. “The mission of Defend Innocence is to protect children from sexual abuse has been more personal,” she said. “It has been both fun and rewarding to help find ways to reach a wider audience and spread their great message and resources so they can educate and empower more adults to protect the children around them.”

The foundation’s Outreach Director Matt Hartvigsen recalls participating in the Grantwell program when he was a graduate student at BYU 10 years ago. “Grantwell provided a hands-on learning experience that gave me a foundation I have used in the career I have now in non-profit management. Seeing these amazing students present such a great project to our foundation was rewarding. The students are insightful, competent, and thorough.”

The Younique Foundation will work with another Grantwell cohort spring semester. This new group will learn more about our Finding Hope Support Groups and research and recommend ways the foundation can better connect survivors of childhood sexual abuse with a healing community.

Those interested in volunteering can learn more at