Getting Outside the HBS Bubble to Make an Impact
The Harbus Foundation provides grant awards to organizations promoting education, literacy, and journalism across the Boston metropolitan area. All aspects of the foundation—from management of the endowment to selection of grant recipients—are HBS student-led. If you are interested in getting involved with the foundation, email David Kiren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My experience at the Harbus Foundation was nothing like I expected, but everything I had hoped. From the moment we met, it was clear this Foundation was unique – being the nation’s only foundation run by MBAs. The Foundation’s Venture Philanthropy teams combine financial support from the proceeds of the Harbus along with guidance from a team of MBA students to help local organizations elevate their social mission to the next level.
Just like the Learning Teams we are all so familiar with, my experience at the Foundation was started by bringing together a group of fresh faced MBAs all eager to help, and all from very different walks of life. My team consisted of fellow OI Jenn Brown, Miray Topay (OF), Karla Ch’ien (OG), and Nikhath Akhtar (OD).
Our first task was to select a local partner organization. After recovering from the initial overload from seeing hundreds of worthy groups in the foundation database, Breakthrough Cambridge was selected by our team. We were truly moved by their mission to help the most underprivileged youth in our city get on track for college.
Venturing out into the city on an early (and chilly!) February day, we held a series of on-site meetings with the staff of Breakthrough Cambridge. Just a handful of six staff worked tirelessly to serve 10% of the students in Cambridge grades 7-12. What they were lacking was the marketing machinery to make their mission heard throughout the city – just the stuff MBA dreams are made of.
Balancing schoolwork, socializing and, (who are we kidding) sleep, the team kept on track to cram most of the actual work into the last month before our presentation. By the end of the project we used our combined experience in sales, finance, and consulting to streamline the promotional work of Breakthrough Cambridge – to enable the staff to focus on what they know best – the students.
While we shared the end results of our project with a Breakthrough Cambridge board member at the grant presentation ceremony, I reflected on our experience. At the end of the year I walked away with four wonderful lifelong friends, an experience managing a social enterprise, and the legacy of improving the education for the urban youth of Cambridge. I can’t wait to revisit Breakthrough Cambridge in the coming year to see how they (and their students) have grown!
Cy Khormaee is a member of OI taking a leave of absence to run CIMLS.com– a company committed to creating a free and open commercial real estate marketplace. Formerly he was a Technology Evangelist at the Microsoft Corporation focused on Social Computing. Prior to his role as an Evangelist, Cy was a Program Manager responsible for the analytics engines behind MSN.com and Windows Live Messenger ad sales. Cy holds a Bachelor in Computer Science from the University of Washington.