Classic Case - Starting Amachi: The Elements and Operation of a Volunteer-Based Social Program

Starting Amachi: The Elements and Operation of a Volunteer-Based Social Program


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  • Product Description

    By the spring of 2003, less than two years after its founding, the Philadelphia nonprofit Amachi had arranged more than 500 volunteer mentors, drawn from inner city African-American churches, to counsel the children of incarcerated parents. The name is derived from a west African word meaning "who knows what this child has brought." The importance of the program, however, transcended its accomplishments. Not only did Amachi hope to expand across the US, reaching 100,000 children within five years, but the program--headed by former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode, Sr.-- was among the first of a new social service initiative. These burgeoning initiatives were of special interest to President George W. Bush's administration. Unlike the previous generation of programs, which relied on public funding and government agencies, Amachi set out to address social concerns by combining faith-based voluntarism with the experience of established nonprofit organizations (such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) and limited government funding.

    Learning Objective:
    This case details the operational decisions, complications, and setbacks during the first two years at Amachi. It focuses on issues such as volunteer recruitment, relationships with the parents of mentored children, and record keeping of meetings between mentors and "mentees." It is meant as a vehicle for discussion as to the practicality of taking a volunteer-based social program "to scale," by examining the operational challenges of a start-up enterprise.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 2003
    HKS Case Number: 1710.0
    Case Author: Howard Husock
    Faculty Lead: Mary Jo Bane and Brent Coffin
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 28
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: The Executive Session on Faith-Based and Community Approaches to Urban Revitalization
    _pages: 25+
    _geography: US & Canada
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