Wharton Students and the Power of Communication in the Fight Against COVID-19
At BlueJeans, we’ve been working hard to make sure our customers, communities and first responders around the world are able to manage through the Coronavirus crisis, and we’ve been in amazement hearing about how customers—old and new—have been able to use our cloud video conferencing platform to stay positive, stay connected and sustain business operations during this global pandemic.
Video conferencing usage has soared as we all look for ways to stay bonded and get through this crisis, and your stories have made us so proud that we can provide a product that can help so many during these trying times.
Even more inspiring though are the stories of how customers are using our platform specifically to help out in the fight against COVID-19. We are truly all in this together, which is why BlueJeans has been offering free access to our video conferencing service to first responders and NGOs that are helping communities manage outbreaks and protect society from further exposure (sign-up here).
As a result, many of you have been using BlueJeans to come together, brainstorm and take action in ways that will make a positive impact when it comes to stemming the spread of the virus and supporting the collective good.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Josh Kristoff, a student at Wharton Business School, about his class’s latest project, Thefirstwave.org, and the role that communication is playing in helping their team get much needed PPE to hospitals and health networks. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What is The First Wave, and how did it get started?
JK: The First Wave is a movement created by Wharton Executive MBA classmates wanting to help family and friends on the frontlines of this medical nightmare. A few of my classmates are doctors on the frontlines, and they were sharing the stark reality of PPE shortage and poor operating conditions. This got a few of us thinking about what we could do to help.
We activated quickly and were able to build a supply chain network of trusted professionals who can turn donations into medical supplies immediately. After making the connections, classmate Shobhit Singhal set up a GoFundMe page for donations, which has done incredibly well.
Q: What have you been able to accomplish so far? What’s next?
JK: To date, we’ve been able to raise $140,000 and deliver 206,000 masks. But we don’t plan to stop there. We’re targeting a mobilization of our networks, starting with Wharton, to get people to act as leaders and solicit support from their companies and networks.
Our next goal to reach is $250,000 in donations, but we’ll continue raising money for PPEs for as long as it’s needed.
Q: How are you using BlueJeans and other collaboration tools to facilitate fundraising efforts?
JK: Since in-person classes have ceased, we’ve been having regular weekly team meetings that we do over video conferencing. We have also been using video conferencing since the start of the effort to stay in sync with other groups trying to run similar programs. We’ve had dozens of video calls to discuss donation opportunities, partnerships with larger efforts run by NGOs, social media coordination with the Wharton PR teams, etc. Beyond BlueJeans, we’ve been using a plethora of different tools—Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, GroupMe, etc.—to coordinate this massive global effort.
Recently, we started using BlueJeans Events to run “town hall” style information sessions to share how others can mobilize around the fund and tell the story and impact. We kicked off the first one in April specifically for our Wharton MBA for Executives classmates, but have since expanded the audience of the sessions as interest and awareness increases. Our second one was with Exec MBA and full-time MBA students and alumni, and we’ve now started to open these sessions to partnering organizations and anyone else interested in getting involved.
Q: Why is it important for people to get involved, and where can people go for more information?
JK: We have all been impacted by the pandemic firsthand—either as a neighbor, friend, parent, colleague and/or classmate of someone infected or taking care of those infected by COVID-19—and it’s important to do what we can right now to save as many lives as possible.
Giving Tuesday Now—a new global day of giving and unity created as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic—may be behind us, but it’s not too late to make a difference today for a better tomorrow. Check out Thefirstwave.org for more information on how you can get involved in making sure there’s enough PPE for our frontline workers as they continue to risk their lives to save others.
See how Wharton is using BlueJeans to connect students and faculty to create extended learning experiences beyond the classroom in the case study here and video here.