CANTON -- Malone University business students have been awarded a grant through "Sam's Club: Step Up For Small Business" for the second consecutive year.

The grant will help fund the students' project in support of PEAK, Inc., a provider agency serving developmentally delayed adults.

According to Marcus Brown, a junior business administration major from Cleveland, and one of the student team's project managers, "Our target audience is the adults who are both served by and work in P.E.A.K workshops making crafts (and getting paychecks) Student volunteers 'hang out' with them and also assist the direct care for two hours each day."

Brown and other project managers collaborated with P.E.A.K to make it more profitable, sustainable and marketable. According to Brown, "One huge feat for the company (was to have) Professor Jack Harris (professor of business administration) prepare a presentation for the staff of P.E.A.K to show them business and management techniques; also to improve their presentation for when they go to fairs. This is huge," he explained.

The grant money will be used to support the company's short term and long term goals of sustainability.

"Last year we created a website for them to help them with their marketing; we bought them two water efficient toilets for one of their workshops, helping them with their environmental efforts and saving up to 500 gallons of water a day. This year, we aim to help them around the shop with buying crafts, hand sanitizer dispensers, and paying for their staff to become CPR certified which is absolutely essential in the field," Brown continued.

Requirements for the grant included:

The degree of business sustainability achieved for the small business

Degree of empowerment achieved for small business

Media exposure

Project concept, execution, outputs, and outcomes

Implementing improved business practices (management, accounting, marketing, etc.)

In making their proposal the Malone students focused on their project and how it related to:

The small business' information

Target audience description

Project Description

Proposed outputs and outcomes

Estimated expenses

Overview of the general terms and conditions of the receiving the grant

The students hope that P.E.A.K., Inc. will become more marketable, management confident, and profitable through their efforts.

Brown, who has served as a counselor and camp coordinator for people with disabilities, said, "This is a passionate field for me because of the clients. Just the simple attention from a genuine smile and conversation from these Malone University students will make a huge difference for them."

He continues, "When I received notification that we'd been awarded the grant, I was thrilled and met with P.E.A.K's managers right away to get started on ways we can use the money to improve their situations whether it was economically, socially, or environmentally."

Malone University (Canton), a Christian university for the arts, sciences, and professions in the liberal arts tradition, affiliated with the Evangelical Friends Church, awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 100 academic programs. Malone has been recognized by the prestigious Templeton Foundation as a leader in character development, as one of Northeast Ohio's Top Workplaces by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and is ranked among the top colleges and universities in the Midwest under the category Regional Universities according to U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges 2013.