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Altruas: A Business Creating Positive Social Change

As of Fall 2023, Monmouth University had a total of 1,078 undergraduate students majoring in business, making up over 26% of the student population. After taking courses in the principles of business and marketing, business majors are able to enroll in BM-451, Entrepreneurship. This course, which is currently being taught by Professor Marcel Legrand, MBA and MIA, allows students to explore several aspects of entrepreneurship, create and develop their own businesses, and even work with an existing non-profit called Altruas.

Altruas is a secular, non-partisan 501c3 non-profit started by Professor Legrand for the purpose of giving his students real-world experience while also spreading a message of positivity. Professor Legrand, a businessman turned teacher, shared that he was inspired to create Altruas after noticing an apparent “scarcity of gratitude” in our post-COVID society.

According Altruas’ mission statement, “small, single acts of recognition within each of our connections and everyday life experiences can have profound, positive, impacts on people, anywhere.”
Since introducing Altruas to his Entrepreneurship course in 2021, Professor Legrand and his students have worked to develop his business and create positive social change at Monmouth and within broader communities.

Altruas is built around a system of tokens, which are distributed amongst among ambassadors chosen by Professor Legrand and his students. Professor Legrand shared that there are currently about 250 tokens in circulation as of now. The selected ambassadors receive a letter explaining why they have been chosen for the role, as well as several tokens. They then go about their normal lives, but pay attention to the small acts of kindness shown by others. When an ambassador sees a person commit an act demonstrating courage, kindness, or dedication, they give them one of their tokens.

Each token has a QR code on the back of it, which the person receiving it can scan. After scanning the token, the person can choose to share why it was given to them and can see where else the token has been– this can be done without collecting any personal data, meaning that engaging with Altruas can be a completely anonymous experience. They are then encouraged to pass the token on to someone else, continuing the cycle of positivity and gratitude.

One student who thoroughly enjoyed getting to be involved with Altruas is junior business and finance student Ryan Lauritano. Lauritano took BM-451 during the Fall 2023 semester and was the lead marketing intern for the business.

Lauritano explained that taking the Entrepreneurship course and working with Altruas was incredibly rewarding, as it gave him and other students the tools and knowledge to be able to start their own businesses in the future. He also expressed that although the course requires business pre-requisite classes, it also serves as beneficial to non-business majors as well. Lauritano shared that last semester, students majoring in art, psychology, and writing participated in the course and played a part in the development of Altruas.

Although the idea of starting an original business or working for a small non-profit can be daunting, Lauritano emphasized that Professor Legrand is an outstanding mentor for anyone hoping to pursue a career in business. Lauritano described Professor Legrand– who is known by his students as Marcel—as someone who “doesn’t sugarcoat,” but rather “gives valuable constructive criticism.” He said that learning from and working with Professor Legrand serves as great preparation for any future internships and business endeavors. In addition to being a fantastic business mentor, Lauritano described Professor Legrand as an overall great person and highly recommends taking his Entrepreneurship course if you can.

Altruas, as well as other student-run businesses here at Monmouth, have the potential to reach outside of our campus community and impact a wide variety of people. What started as a small non-profit created by one man has already grown into a tool for learning and for spreading kindness. Altruas has grown immensely since its creation, and it continues to be developed each semester by a new group of students entering the Entrepreneurship course. The creation and development of businesses like Altruas, which is centered around the acknowledgement and encouragement of human goodness, can drastically impact the communities they are based in.

You can learn more about Altruas by following them on Instagram @altruas_org or visiting their website altruas.org.