At a time when small business owners are struggling to get off the endangered species list, a lifeline in any form is a welcome reprieve. But when it's a lifeline worth tens of thousands of dollars, it can be a game-changer.

A program at Woodbury University — in which MBA students essentially act as full-fledged consultants for small business owners who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford the service — is that sort of lifeline.

These student consultants, hooked up with businesses through the college's new summer entrepreneurship program, do it all: they develop market research, business plans and advertising and marketing strategies — all of it summarized, packaged and delivered to their clients, who can then use that information to secure bank loans or make internal adjustments to improve revenue.

No wonder the local business community has been eager to team with Woodbury to connect with students.

You may have heard about forging “meaningful community partnerships” in past political discourse, only to see promises fade and fizzle.

But this program? It's the real deal.