Project Greer Street Participants

Professional MBA students offer expansion strategy for Project Greer Street, a college prep program for young African American men

The benefits of higher education are well documented. College graduates are more likely than those with only a high school diploma to live longer, healthier lives; experience less unemployment; and earn higher salaries. This is true for nearly every demographic, but especially for African American men, who, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, earn almost double the income with a college degree compared to those without one.

“The dramatic impact on the future options for African American men that results from earning an undergraduate degree from one of the top schools in America is well chronicled,” said Ronald Sally, CEO and Founder of Project Greer Street, an award-winning academic enrichment and college pipeline program that teaches the keys for life success, including earning college admission, to African American male students in high school.

Bud Bilanich

Sally, who launched Project Greer Street with his wife, is a graduate of Duke University and the UCLA School of Law. He named the program after the street where he grew up in the notorious neighborhood of North St. Louis, Missouri, and since the program’s inception, he has helped participants earn admission to more than 50 colleges nationwide, including Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Northwestern, and the University of Denver. Program participants have also been awarded more than $5 million in college scholarships and grants.

The program has performed so well that Sally would like to expand it to other schools. To explore this possibility, Sally partnered with a group of Professional MBA students from Bud Bilanich’s capstone course—the final component of the PMBA curriculum—to identify ways to increase the program’s reach and impact.

“In the capstone course,” said Bilanich, a teaching assistant professor of management, “students use the knowledge they’ve gained during their time at Daniels to work with a nonprofit by helping solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity that has presented itself.”

CEO and Founder of Project Greer Street Ron Sally

Daniels students Seth Spiva, Jordan Grass, Brad Butowski and Kevin Jursek worked with Sally to develop a potential expansion strategy for Project Greer Street by researching and providing recommendations based on the insights they’ve gleaned from the Professional MBA program so far, as well as interviews with education professionals.

Spiva, a second-year PMBA student who currently works as a senior financial analyst for Arrow Electronics, said of the group project: “Our team greatly values education so the partnership with Project Greer Street was a perfect match. The commitment and passion Ronald Sally has for his mentees is something I think we should all aspire to.” 

Sally, a business executive with more than 20 years of executive experience with organizations such as the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, CAA ICON, JLL, Reed Smith, and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, noted that the students from Daniels were professional, thorough, candid, and great representatives of themselves and the business school.

“Their work will be very valuable in our assessment of what the future of Project Greer Street can be and will ultimately become,” he said.

For Spiva, the collaboration with Project Greer Street was particularly insightful. “I acknowledge that not everyone has the same opportunities to be successful due to uncontrollable external factors,” he said. “For those of us who have had opportunities to be successful, we must pay it forward. Partnering with Project Greer Street and their mission is another step to not only bettering Denver now but the future of the city and its communities.”