MBA@Denver group helps community-based nonprofit bolster its case to funders
Located in gritty central Aurora, the DAWN Clinic serves as an essential conduit between University of Colorado School of Medicine students and many of the underserved residents of the neighborhood adjacent to the school’s Anschutz Campus.
Through the clinic’s interdisciplinary treatment model, the medical students provide primary care, dentistry and physical therapy services at no cost to patients who have few other options, in a community where the uninsured rate runs high and medical care facilities are scarce.
In 2019, the organization served more than 750 individuals. Going forward, the clinic is well-positioned to fulfill and potentially extend its mission, thanks in part to a group of students from the online MBA@Denver program at DU’s Daniels College of Business. The student group included Diana Chavez, Chris Cummings, Kyle Maloney and Ted Strelecky.
“The benefit of having a group of people who are excited to work with our program is the lifeblood of the organization,” said Sally Garcia, DAWN Clinic’s nurse clinic manager. “Given that we bring in students from other professional schools, to bring in students going into the business and financial world to help our cause was very exciting.”
The student group developed the project around some data analysis needs of the DAWN Clinic, which is an acronym for ‘Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs.’
“At a very high level, we helped a nonprofit clinic that helps people for free justify their existence with those people who are funding them,” said MBA@Denver student Chris Cummings. “In fundraising, it can be difficult to hit the road and secure funding, but the more data, numbers and justification you can provide, the more likely you’ll be successful.”
More specifically, the student team developed a data analytics application that pulls in ailment, treatment and demographic data for each patient seen and generates an assortment of reports, including one that quantifies the value of services provided.
“That shadow billing report allows DAWN to show funders how much its services save the community and facilities such as Anschutz,” said student Ted Strelecky. “We not only tied the data together, but we also developed a clean way to present it and did it in a program and format that allows them to continue generating reports on their own.”
Strelecky added that the project filled an organizational need that was regularly pushed to the back burner by clinic leaders—a point echoed by Garcia, the nurse clinic manager.
“When you have student-run clinics in low-labor areas, you don’t tend to have time to take on a project like this because the patients always come first,” she said. “When you get an injection of fresh minds that can take it on, however, that’s incredibly valuable as I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it for a year or more, but we can really utilize that data now.”
Cummings, who completed the online MBA program in March, said that the project provided an opportunity to apply what he learned in the classroom on an “apples-to-apples” basis. Moreover, it further bolstered his confidence professionally as he recently took on a CEO role at a small industrial consulting firm in need of a turnaround.
Strelecky said that he gained deeper insight into the communication, accountability and ethical considerations involved in such a project, as well as how data can create a stronger story for an organization.
“It’s rewarding to have such a huge impact on the community,” he said. “I also appreciate that it helps differentiate us from other MBA students.”
Strelecky, who’s planning to graduate in June with an emphasis in data analytics, was the recipient of the MBA@Denver Student of Excellence Award. The award is given to a student with the personal integrity, ethical leadership and academic achievement who best represents the values of the program.