IAP’19 Julia Gregory, English for New Bostonians

MIT students are privileged to have the entire month of January to push their learning forward through projects of their own choosing. I decided I wanted to spend IAP contributing to a nonprofit serving the needs of immigrants in the Boston community, using the skills and knowledge I’ve gained during my MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Importantly, I didn’t want to create more work for the nonprofit hosting me; instead, I wanted to do something an organization really needed but simply hadn’t had time to think about or implement yet.  After connecting with several organizations with the help of the PKG Center’s Chiara Magini, I determined that spending four weeks at English for New Bostonians was the best opportunity for meaningful contribution.

English for New Bostonians (ENB) enables community organizations and workplaces to provide English classes to immigrants in Boston by providing funding, expertise, and connections. Though they have been an important part of integrating immigrants since 2001, they have only been an independent nonprofit since 2014. ENB is continuing to refine the support it provides and asked me to help them codify it in a business model as part of their strategic planning process.

In my first week, I met with each member of ENB’s small staff, as well as the Board president, in order to understand what the organization was looking to achieve by creating this business model. I also read funding applications and planning documents to learn more about how ENB presents its programs. I then applied strategic frameworks from both the for-profit and non-profit world to structure all this information. In addition to defining the business model of the full organization, I also created the business case for expanding ENB’s workplace English program, created a volunteer engagement strategy, and assisted with a few other development activities.

Now, I’ve wrapped up my last full week at ENB and am excited to stay engaged during the spring semester. We will be presenting the business model at the board meeting in February, after which I’ll refine based on the board’s needs and feedback. The business model of an 18-year-old organization can’t be defined in just a few weeks, but I know that we are on the right track toward understanding ENB’s vital place in the Boston community.

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