Our interview with Aly Murray--Co-Founder & Executive Director of our partner charity UPchieve--on how charities are adapting to COVID-19 and why now is a critical time for companies to make a big impact.
Aly Murray, UPchieve
“Now is a really critical time to make a big impact”
When UPchieve, a NYC-based EdTech nonprofit, mandated that all employees work remotely beginning March 12th, something clicked for Aly Murray, the organization’s Executive Director. “Now”, she realized, “is a really critical time to make a big impact.”
UPchieve provides virtual one-on-one math tutoring for low-income high school students across the country. By increasing access to free and personalized academic support, they help level the playing field for students on their path toward graduating high school and getting to college.
So what does this mean for students whose schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic? According to Aly, “Now is when low-income students need virtual tutoring more than ever. When schools are closed, students have less instructional time and less one-on-one support, and there’s a disproportionately negative impact on low-income students”. Which means the UPchieve team has been working harder than ever to spread their message and bring on more students and tutors.
“You must shift priorities and adapt to COVID-19”
When it comes to staying agile during an international crisis, Aly’s recommendation to fellow nonprofits is to “Step back and evaluate all of the things you know might be helpful and prioritize them. COVID-19 should be shifting your priorities, and you need to do some reevaluating if it hasn’t”. Everyone on her team is working on the most urgent and impactful things, no matter their typical role and responsibilities.
One example of UPchieve’s agility is prioritizing and completing a new app feature in less than a week. Given that many low-income students do not have access to computers and internet in their homes, the UPchieve team sprinted to push a brand new feature that made UPchieve even easier to use on smartphones. This is just one of their many efforts in combating school closures and reaching as many students as possible.
“Be the connector”
There has never been a better time for remote-friendly charitable giving and volunteering. While UPchieve is a year-round virtual service, other nonprofits are needing to think outside of the box for ways they can connect to the world and serve their communities. Aly asks organizations to “Think globally and try to be the connector between virtual services and the audiences they serve so they can reach even more people”.
The same goes for for-profit organizations as well. Like many nonprofits, UPchieve has benefited from an increased awareness in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and has started partnerships with big corporations like PwC and Atlassian. These for-profit companies, along with many others, are looking for ways to make an impact during COVID-19, and Aly urges them to find opportunities to donate their time and resources to nonprofit organizations who can do real good during these very difficult times.
“We’re waiting for you [corporates]”
“We’re waiting for you [corporates]. We want to partner with you. We need your employees to volunteer with us”, says Aly. If you’re already someone who is engaged with philanthropy, check the websites of nonprofit organizations you engage with and learn how this has impacted them. And if you’re not already engaged with philanthropy, then find causes you’re passionate about and start from there.
In order to rebuild and come out of this crisis even stronger, the world needs more people telling themselves “Now is a really critical time to make a big impact”. Let’s start re-evaluating and re-prioritizing ways we can make that impact.