Supporting the Front Line through the Crisis
Today, the very front line in the pandemic is the countries where new strains and other factors are fueling devastating upticks in cases and deaths. To support our colleagues in India, our many clients there, and the broader community, we have continued our pro bono efforts across a number of areas to help mitigate the complex and far-reaching effects of the virus. Most recently, Bain has raised funds for the Swasth and Hemkunt foundations, which distribute oxygen concentrators and cylinders to Covid-19 patients across India at no cost. We have also provided pro bono consulting to Swasth, managing its Covid-19 war room and working to match healthcare supplies to demand.
Earlier in the crisis, we worked with the Indian government’s Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises to design policy recommendations for small businesses facing significant cash flow shortfalls, and with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to support e-commerce delivery efforts during the initial lockdown. Pro bono consulting teams collaborated with the government’s public policy think tank to help coordinate the response to Covid-19 and supported the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India in tracking vaccine development. We also partnered with industrial solutions company Godrej & Boyce to evaluate retooling their production to build ventilators, set up mass isolation centers, and distribute donations to the government’s response effort.
Another pro bono case team worked with St. Jude India ChildCare Centres on a plan to ensure lodging for children undergoing treatment and their families in case of an evacuation. We helped critical NGOs like Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, which works to prevent violence against and exploitation of children, manage their pandemic response. And together with The Bridgespan Group, we raised money to support the efforts of a dozen NGOs to stem the challenges brought on by Covid-19.
Like India, many parts of South America are struggling right now. Bain Brazil has responded by raising funds for Movimento Panela Cheia, which provides food to the vulnerable, and for Unidos pela Vacina, a group organized to reduce bottlenecks in the vaccination process, with the goal of seeing all Brazilians vaccinated by September. This builds on our work earlier in the crisis, when we raised funds to buy hospital beds, helped a coalition make respiratory devices available to hospitals, and assisted one of the main hospitals in São Paulo with crisis planning.
In the spring of 2020, when New York City had a significant percentage of worldwide cases, a team of healthcare and technology leaders formed the New York City Covid-19 Rapid Response Coalition to protect the most medically vulnerable and underserved. The group quickly had remarkable impact, sourcing labor for hospitals, securing donated Covid tests, building a supply chain for personal protective equipment, and arranging free mental health support for frontline health workers. We worked with the coalition on an outbound chatbot SMS text campaign aimed at keeping the frail, elderly, and vulnerable away from hospitals and getting them the help they needed—whether prescription delivery, mental health services, or any of a number of other supports. Developed in a matter of weeks, the campaign quickly reached more than 60,000 New Yorkers.
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked to expand the treatment options for Covid-19 and boost supplies of critical equipment. For one global biopharmaceutical leader, we redesigned operational processes, developed forecasts, and facilitated partnerships with industry peers to support clinical trials for the development of a hyperimmune therapy. In support of Stop the Spread, which has mobilized the private sector in response to the crisis, we helped bring more PPE, ventilators, and testing equipment to the market, including by connecting General Motors to Ventec Life Systems, which together went on to build 30,000 critical care ventilators.
One of the most basic human needs is a hot meal, and early in the pandemic, Bain consultants helped set up two organizations matching underutilized restaurant kitchens to overstretched healthcare workers and people facing food insecurity. Started in Boston and quickly expanded to 11 cities, Off Their Plate, launched with the help of senior manager Brittany Urick, focused on simultaneously providing economic relief to restaurant workers and serving healthcare heroes in the early, acute phase of the pandemic. It now serves 473 communities and is working to empower local restaurants owned by women and people of color to feed the food insecure. It has delivered more than 700,000 meals to date. In Texas, a group of Bain consultants launched their own nonprofit, Feed the Frontline, with the similar mission of supporting struggling local restaurants and providing free meals to hardworking staff at hospitals and health testing centers during the first critical months of the crisis.
Helping Students, Educators, Schools, and School Systems
There isn’t a student, teacher, or school system that has not been upended by Covid-19. Since the pandemic hit, we have rallied to support existing and new educational pro bono clients as they grapple with the unpredictable.
We helped the Los Angeles Unified School District cope with the consequences of moving almost 700,000 students to online learning, more than 80% of whom are from families living in poverty. We worked with the City University of New York (CUNY) to develop a strategy to improve career outcomes for students hardest hit by the pandemic and also supported the launch of contact tracing efforts for New York City and the State of New York, which CUNY was tasked with running. In Southeast Asia, we collaborated with Teach for Malaysia to help create a remote learning toolkit for school administrators, teachers, parents, and students with either low or high Internet bandwidth.
Loss of learning among students suddenly thrust into remote education has been one of the most devastating results of Covid-19. In the UK, educators fear the first few months of the pandemic may have reversed a decade’s worth of progress on narrowing the educational attainment gap for its 2 million disadvantaged students. Our London office took on a pro bono project to help a coalition of nonprofit organizations launch the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). We worked at speed to help define a program to deliver high-quality tutoring to disadvantaged children. Our efforts, including a detailed financial model and assessment of the tutoring provider market, supported an application to the UK Treasury to approve funding for the 2020–21 academic year. One important element of our work was interviewing and surveying school leaders and teachers for their input into the program design, an application of our customer research approach. This informed our understanding of the level of subsidy that would be required for the schools to make the program work.
As a result of our collective efforts, the government allocated £350 million to launch a program with a combination of high-quality one-on-one and small group tutoring and academic mentors to offer intensive additional support. Following this, Bain was called on to evaluate the benefits of extending the NTP into a multiyear initiative and to frame options for how the program might look in the future.
In its first year, the NTP intends to serve 250,000 disadvantaged students, and the government has renewed the program for the next three years. If projections hold, the NTP could help reverse half of the Covid-19 setback suffered by year 11 students and nearly all of the setback of year 6 students by 2024. The NTP has also attracted international attention and has been cited by the OECD and the World Bank as an effective catch-up approach, serving as inspiration for other countries as they design their own programs.
Working to Reopen
Beginning in April 2020, as France planned to emerge from its initial lockdown, we helped set up a testing plan that would support the safe reopening of the economy. Within two weeks, we were able to create a comprehensive view of testing supply and shortages. Then, to mitigate the shortfall, we mobilized industry participants and private laboratories to boost testing capacity and secure critical supplies, supported smaller firms and start-ups that were ramping up new diagnostic and immunity testing technologies, and worked to attract global companies’ critical testing capabilities to France. The push helped France expand its testing capacity sevenfold in just two months, exceed its national target of 700,000 tests per week by May 11, and unlock a $72 billion (€60 billion) monthly benefit to the economy.
In partnership with Civic Consulting Alliance, we worked with the State of Illinois, an early Covid-19 hot spot, to balance economic and health factors as it emerged from its spring 2020 stay-at-home order. Our engagement helped the State develop comprehensive guidelines for reopening, which were informed by hundreds of Illinois business leaders and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and helped set the stage for millions of employees to return to work safely.
Managing beyond initial emergency responses was complex for companies across the private sector, with a big impact on workers and the economy. We helped one large insurer look beyond its initial Covid-19 response and rapid transition to work from home by building a sustainable command center that it could use to manage its recovery over many months. This allowed the company’s catastrophe response team to return to its intended purpose of assisting customers facing natural disasters. We also helped the company identify opportunities to retool its business based on the long-term implications of Covid-19 for its customers, employees, and society more broadly.