Apr 8 2020

HumanKind: CU Boulder Helping with the Covid Crisis

For over a decade, I’ve worked closely on a number of entrepreneurial initiatives with my friend Brad Bernthal, an Associate Professor at Colorado Law and the Silicon Flatirons Center.  The past few weeks unexpectedly resulted in a new project with Brad B. and CU’s entrepreneurial community.

On March 19, Bart Temme, and entrepreneur in Holland, reached out to me and Brad B. The next day we jumped on a call. Bart shared notes about how the startup community in his area of Holland mobilized in response to COVID-19. Bart provided grim notes about the reality of the contagion and the needs of their area. Yet Bart also spoke about the possibilities for entrepreneurial networks, accustomed to taking action and helping each other, to make an impact.

On that call, we hatched an idea to harness the power of university students. The vision: match an army of student age volunteers to COVID-19 response needs. Brad B. agreed to see if our university entrepreneurial network would build out this effort. 

In just two weeks, they created something powerful. I encourage you to read the update from Brad B. about HumanKind below and, if interested, get involved.


FROM BRAD BERNTHAL

I’ve been humbled to join a team that, over the past two weeks, built and launched HumanKind, a program to mobilize university students to help during the COVID-19 crisis. The platform bridges the gap between community needs and university-age volunteers.

To make this happen, volunteers jumped in from all corners of the campus – and beyond – over the past two weeks. A core team of about 20 volunteers – students, staff, and faculty –  divvied up roles, joined Zoom meetings, and even pulled me into the Slack universe (I think I was the last holdout).

HumanKind just went live last night. A two-minute explainer video (created by my 8th grade daughter, Quinn, who got involved in the effort) summarizes what we’re up to.

HumanKind is a matchmaking platform between (1) university students, and (2) individuals and organizations in the community who need help. Areas in which HumanKind hopes to drive volunteer efforts include (i) remote social interaction with isolated elderly populations, (ii) support to front line medical providers (potentially things like dog walking and remote tutoring for their kids), and (iii) connection to existing networks that would welcome university student help.

We intentionally created HumanKind to be inclusive. We welcome university-age students who go to school out of state, but are now back at home in Colorado during the crisis, to join the effort. We also welcome the use of HumanKind at other universities throughout Colorado. We’ve branded this in a way that, hopefully, feels like student and entrepreneurial leaders at other schools can make use of the platform.

We’d now love to have the startup community push to (1) inspire university-age students in Colorado to join the COVID-19 response, and (2) identify organizations and networks that need university-age volunteers. Here are actions that you can take:  

  • If you are a university-age student in Colorado, and you’d like to raise your hand to get involved, please register here.
  • If you have an organization or network looking for university-age volunteer help to serve community needs, please reach out here.
  • If you are a small business seeking help navigating the COVID crisis, please see available resources here.
  • If you would like to use HumanKind to drive university-age volunteers at your university or college in Colorado, please reach out to me.

I’ve always wanted to build new things as part of a startup. I did not expect the chance to create something new to come under these circumstances. I have been inspired, and humbled, to see volunteers on our team use their entrepreneurial tools in the service of COVID-19 response impact. Across campus, we teach the value of entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. It is now amazing to put these skills to work at the most important of times. I am optimistic that this platform could make a real impact over the coming months.