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MNA Tech Case Study: Revive & Thrive Ups Its Technology Game

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How a small nonprofit got the tech upgrade needed to serve the community

By: Adela Uchida

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Revive & Thrive provides nutritious meals to people facing health crises

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Serves the greater Grand Rapids area

Est. May 2015


Objectives:

  • Lay a solid foundation of technology for Revive & Thrive to serve its community
  • Standardize equipment to increase efficiency and raise security
  • Increase protection against cyber threats
  • Implement policies to give staff and volunteers a roadmap to keep security high


Results:

  • Standardized equipment to Dell Latitude laptops
  • Standardized communication platforms to HIPAA-compliant Microsoft 365
  • Heightened security from online threats
  • Increased internet and Wi-Fi access inside the Revive & Thrive office


For Revive & Thrive, technology was the answer

From the outside, Revive and Thrive in Grand Rapids is meeting a growing need in the community – serving the community with healthy food. Since 2015, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has supported people struggling with a health crisis by supplying low-cost meals delivered to their homes, along with nutrition education and support. The mission includes training youth to be teen chefs to promote its message of healthy eating and living in the community.

Behind the scenes, however, the staff and volunteers were struggling with the technology they had on hand to help them achieve their mission.  “It takes about 40 volunteers a week to pull off what we do. And from a technology standpoint, since 2020 When I started you know everyone's using their own personal computer,” said Abbie Larink, the director of program development for Revive & Thrive. Recently, Revive & Thrive requested help fixing its technology foundation and access, using grant funds from the Michigan Health Endowment. The Michigan Nonprofit Association Tech team solved Revive & Thrive’s problems and put the nonprofit on track to better serve its clients.


“It takes about 40 volunteers a week to pull off what we do. And from a technology standpoint, that's meant you know, I can at least share about since 2020 when I started, you know everyone's using their own personal computer.”

Abbie Larink, Revive & Thrive director of program development


When Revive & Thrive applied for the project, they ranked an aging onsite server, poorly performing computers, outdated networking gear like a firewall, email, and cyber security as some of their biggest concerns. Just printing labels for food deliveries was a challenge. “We had two printers, neither of which worked consistently, and neither of which was I was ever able to get connected to the Wi Fi,” Larink said.

“I would connect to one printer with a USB port, print one copy of something because that printer was like inkjet rather than toner so just make one copy. And then on the bigger printer with a toner I would make the rest of it copies so you know you're just duplicating work,” she continued. That was just one example of the technology pitfalls that staff and volunteers had to overcome. The Wi-Fi in Revive & Thrive’s church basement office often did not work. Sensitive files were shared insecurely via Google Docs.

The nonprofit received $21,500 in grant money from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund – and $11,000 of it was earmarked for their hardware needs. That’s where MNA Tech came in.


MNA Tech Builds Infrastructure

Adam King, the IT services director for MNA Tech, is well-versed in meeting the needs of nonprofit organizations. “It’s really common for nonprofits, for everyone to just be bringing in their own devices,” he said. “We don't like it when it's a mix match of different equipment people bring in their own stuff. That's a security risk for them and the organization, but it is a common theme, and it's something we've always tried to fix.”

Once MNA Tech diagnosed the problem, the cure wasn’t far behind. First – the MNA Tech team set up business-class Dell desktops and Dell Latitude laptops for staff and volunteers to use. Next up was Microsoft 365, a platform that would make Revive & Thrive’s data more secure. “The data there would be encrypted and protected. I think they have to adhere to HIPAA when it comes to some of the data they track, so that was important to them and Microsoft is HIPAA compliant,” King said.  Larink confirmed the switch immediately impacted their workflow and efficiency. “They came in and set up all the computers. And then part of that too, is they helped us migrate from Google as our email server to Microsoft. And that also solves a lot of problems in terms of just our ability to use Microsoft products. Like SharePoint specifically,” she commented.

MNA Tech also upgraded the infrastructure in the office to allow people to connect to the network printer. And equally as important as the hardware, MNA Tech introduced new policies around technology for Revive & Thrive. “Not only did we just, you know, set up new computers, but we helped them get in the mindset of having a standard of having policies in place for protecting their data, for deploying the right kind of equipment in the future,” King said.


“Cybersecurity matters. It's important and organizations can't afford to have their head in the sand with the way they operate in their data, their client data has to be top work to the forefront and everything they do.”

Adam King, MNA Tech


MNA Tech pays extra attention to nonprofit cybersecurity because nonprofits often handle sensitive information about the people they serve, as well as their staff and volunteers. “Cybersecurity matters. It's important and organizations can't afford to have their head in the sand with the way they operate their data, their client data has to be top work to the forefront and everything they do,” said King.

In Revive & Thrive’s case, MNA Tech installed multi-factor authentication as a security measure and did cybersecurity training with its people. King urges nonprofit staff to take the threat of hackers and phishing scams and malware and ransomware very seriously. “People are oftentimes the biggest target and the biggest weakness because we can be fooled into giving out information to imposters that are trying to take our information and take our money, right those bad guys are pretty slick, right? They get pretty believable.”


Better Technology Better Serves the Mission

When Revive & Thrive applied for the grant in late 2022, fulfilling their mission of providing nutritious meals to people fighting cancer, diabetes and other health crises was harder than it had to be. MNA Tech solved that challenge by building infrastructure that included:

  • Installing standardized Dell computer hardware
  • Deploying the Microsoft 365 platform
  • Strengthening the in-office Wi-Fi connection to the network printer
  • Setting up multi-factor authentication
  • And providing cybersecurity training to keep Revive & Thrive data safe

“It's just made things a lot more efficient and a lot less frustrating in the day-to-day kind of way, just thinking about our regular meal service. You know, every week we're preparing – and you know that also involves packaging and labeling – 400 meals to be delivered,” said Larink. Even better, with MNA Tech’s help, Revive & Thrive is poised to continue to grow and serve. “We've hired a couple of new staff and just being able to have a system in place already to be able to give them a computer to use has been really wonderful.”

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