• Harvard CBE

Sustaining Impact in COVID-19 Era

A little over a month ago, we received news that Harvard would require students to move off campus amid growing concerns over COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, we sprung into action. We doubled down on our commitment to supporting our members, providing stipends for relocation relief. And once everyone managed to settle down — to the extent this phrase can aptly describe these unprecedented circumstances — we announced the launch of the CBE COVID-19 Action Team. Within days, the task force expanded to over 50 people, consisting of both past and present CBE members.


CBE was founded on the fundamental premise that community matters. Anchored by the “Environment” in its name and the pillar of sustainability that guides its work, CBE has long held the view that generating positive impact is critical in confronting a modern world facing increasingly complex challenges. Moreover, the fundamental aim of consulting is to solve problems. As an undergraduate consulting group, we recognized that there was much impact that students could generate if they collectively leveraged their capabilities and resources to tackle these issues.


While we had numerous plans in place to expand our sustainability work and programming this semester, many were crowded out by COVID-19. Yet, in recognizing the urgency of the public health crisis, along with the numerous parallels between the pandemic and climate change, we quickly pivoted our sustainability work towards COVID-19 relief efforts. We formed partnerships with organizations including Response4Life and Group 17a, working on pro bono consulting projects in which we analyzed ventilator manufacturing processes and county-level responses to coronavirus outbreaks in jails, respectively. Through these partnerships, members of the CBE COVID-19 action team were able to not only advance pandemic relief efforts, but also learn more about the insidious challenges that COVID-19 presents.


A screenshot taken from our initial COVID-19 meeting. Since then, our team has grown and taken off!


Since we kicked off these initial projects, we have pursued several other efforts as well. We launched our first-ever partnership with Harvard Effective Altruism on a “Giving Game” event to welcome the incoming Harvard College Class of 2024. At this event, CBE donated $1,000 to two nonprofits, GiveDirectly and Greater Boston Food Bank — these decisions were informed, in part, by “effective altruism” frameworks to understand how organizations like CBE and their members could maximize the impact of their donations. Furthermore, we partnered with Project Concern International, an international development nonprofit, to create several internships for our members. These members will be analyzing how a better understanding of data analytics and health outcomes can inform and improve COVID-19 relief efforts.


We do not intend to stop here. We recognize that we have a long road ahead to adequately stem the COVID-19 pandemic, let alone climate change. We will continue to iterate on the insights we gather from our initial projects and investments to inform a more thorough understanding of how we can best pursue future ones. CBE is, and always has been, about environment, impact, and problem solving — moving forward, we will continue to act with these values in mind.


We are eager to partner with organizations on projects advancing COVID-19 relief. If you or your organization could benefit from a partnership or a pro bono consulting project, please do not hesitate to reach out. We eagerly await the collaborative journey that lies ahead.


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HARVARD UNDERGRADUATE CONSULTING ON BUSINESS AND THE ENVIRONMENT © 2020

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