Contributed by Katherine Murtha
How do Berkeley-Haas alumni reconnect, sharpen their strategy skills and support local nonprofits simultaneously? Seven alumni volunteers gathered this week to do just that at the Great Oakland Public School’s (“GO”) office at Jack London Square. The group’s task was to brainstorm replication strategies for the growing nonprofit.
Berkeley-Haas alum Jonathan Klein (MBA 06) founded Great Oakland Public Schools in 2008. It aims to activate communities to secure quality education for all of Oakland’s children.
[See Jonathan’s path to social impact in his November, 2013 presentation at Berkeley-Haas. Video below.]
Jonathan says GO’s impact has spurred people from around the country to call him “at least once a week,” asking for GO to help organize engaged parents and teachers in their school districts. With the board’s approval, GO is doing just that – and that’s where the alumni volunteers come in.
“Alumni want a chance to give back.” says Cathy Garza, Director of our Alumni Engagement program at the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership. Guided by this need and the success of similar programs, we decided to set up a Solutions Lab, where alumni and nonprofit leaders could come together and brainstorm outside-the-box ideas that nonprofits could apply to some of their thorniest problems. A one-time, two-hour session could be manageable for many alums and draw interest from a wide swath of Haas graduates.
The alumni group at GO included a 1990 Haas PhD, a 2010 undergrad who is leading his own startup, past and current consultants, and alums with expertise in marketing and product management. This group generated a market research idea that prompted GO’s special projects director to say, “we could put that in a work plan and do it tomorrow.” A few other ideas about decision-making mechanisms and managing people differently also piqued the GO leadership team’s interest.
Overall the Solutions Lab volunteers got a crash course in education advocacy and GO got “some good food for thought.” The next Solutions Lab will be held in San Francisco, at the Foundation for Sustainable Development, on June 5, 2014. To join this or a future Solutions Lab, visit our Create Impact page. If you’re already interested, you can go directly to the Solutions Lab volunteer signup form to tell us!
Jonthan Klein’s path to creating impact through education advocacy: