CSU grad students deliver the goods during COVID-19 pandemic

Fort Collins Delivery Network
A volunteer prepares to deliver items for the Fort Collins Delivery Network, a nonprofit established by College of Business MBA students to help at-risk individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A group of Colorado State University College of Business graduate students are applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to address a critical need in the Fort Collins community.

Since late March, a group of MBA students have been helping at-risk individuals who should not leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering food, medicine and other essential supplies.

It’s all part of the Fort Collins Delivery Network, a nonprofit the students established outside of their coursework. The nonprofit has recruited more than 50 volunteers who have helped hundreds of individuals in the community.

Graduate students Gerardo Aguilera, Reid Anderson, Emma McKay, Francie Saunders, Marya Skotte and Audrey Snyder launched the startup after learning about a similar outreach initiative in Denver. To date, the Fort Collins Delivery Network has assisted with more than 600 home deliveries.

“We were trying to find a way to help,” Snyder said. “There are times (during this pandemic) where you feel so isolated, but there are things that you can do to make a difference and invoke hope and solve problems for your neighbors.”

Snyder said the Fort Collins Delivery Network uses an online dispatching system to coordinate food and medicine deliveries for at-risk individuals. Volunteers are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week. When an order comes in through the network’s website, a dispatcher reaches out to the volunteers scheduled for that day on WhatsApp.

Making an impact

MBA student Reid Anderson, a founding member and volunteer of the Fort Collins Delivery Network.

The students are part of a hands-on MBA program that connects purpose and profit.

As of 2020, the College of Business is in the next chapter of its mission to help students build successful careers addressing some of the world’s most challenging social, economic and environmental problems with its Impact MBA program.

Impact MBA Director Kathryn Ernst said she is not surprised the students established the nonprofit on top of their graduate studies.

“They’re definitely applying what they’re learning,” Ernst said. “Our students come from all different backgrounds, but what brings them together in this program is their desire to make the world a better place by learning business skills.”

The Fort Collins Delivery Network also has forged partnerships with other community nonprofits, including the Food Bank for Larimer County, FoCo Café and the Denver Delivery Network.

Josh Greene, operations director for the Food Bank for Larimer County, said the Fort Collins Delivery Network has assisted their organization with some home deliveries. He added that CSU has provided support to the Food Bank with two delivery vans and drivers.

“It’s been invaluable,” Greene said. “When something like (COVID-19) happens, we quickly discover our strongest partnerships. The willingness across the university to find ways to help has been tremendous.”

Word has gotten out about the Fort Collins Delivery Network in the community. The work of the students has been featured in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, and Snyder said they recently received a grant from the Colorado COVID-19 Emergency Hunger Relief Fund by the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger.

In the end, Snyder attributes the success to the groundswell of volunteers who have stepped up to make the Fort Collins Delivery Network possible.

“It’s the volunteers that make us,” Snyder said. “They have been incredible in helping us succeed.”

Get involved with the Fort Collins Delivery Network

The Fort Collins Delivery Network continues to operate and expand and is looking for volunteers to help further their mission, and for at-risk populations who may be unaware of their reviews.

Learn more about the Fort Collins Delivery Network by visiting fortcollinsdeliverynetwork.org.