Community Partner Spotlight — Project Open Hand


Founded in 1985, Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to critically ill neighbors and seniors to fulfill their mission to nourish and engage their community.

Every day, more than 125 Project Open Hand volunteers prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain their clients, as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of old age in San Francisco and Alameda Counties.

For Seniors and Adults with Disabilities: The organization provides warm, nutritious lunch to seniors (age 60+) and adults with disabilities (age 18–59) at locations throughout San Francisco.

Project Open hand photo 2
Courtesy of Project Open Hand

For People Living with Critical Illness: Through Project Open Hand’s Wellness Programs, they provide nutritious, medically-tailored meals and groceries for pick up in San Francisco and Alameda Counties. Home-delivered meals for clients who are homebound are offered as well. Registered dietitians support and counsel clients to help them feel better by eating right.

Involvement with the Center

“As we have expanded our services over the past several years, Nora Silver, Ben Mangan, and Jay Stowsky have served as strategic thought partners and an invaluable source of guidance,” said Hannah Levinson, a Development Officer for Project Open Hand. “We look forward to continuing our involvement on a larger scale through Social Sector Solutions!”

Project Open Hand has been matched with a diverse team of student consultants in the Social Sector Solutions (S3) program. The organization was also matched in the Berkeley Board Fellows program last year.

Photo courtesy of Project Open Hand
Courtesy of Project Open Hand

Last year, Berkeley Board Fellows conducted a market assessment of the East Bay for Project Open Hand. The Fellows conducted interviews with physicians, community-based organizations, and health services agencies, analyzed the impact of poverty on health outcomes, and made recommendations as to how the organization could address unmet needs in the East Bay.

During the 2016 spring semester, Project Open Hand will work with team of MBA consultants, and the S3 student team to develop a strategic program plan and landscape analysis of hunger fighting organizations in Alameda County. The consulting team will provide a fresh look at the current programs and conduct an analysis of food and nutrition services within Alameda County. The analysis will focus on the critically ill, vulnerable senior population to help the organization adapt its services and maximize its impact.

Project Open Hand
Courtesy of Project Open Hand

Advice for MBAs interested in the Social Sector

In the words of Project Open Hand CEO Mark Ryle: “When I started my career at Lehman Brothers in the mid-1980s, I was driven to be the best among some of the best in the M&A industry. 25 years later, I use that same drive to help feed the critically ill and seniors. I found a place where my ambition and heart can work together for a greater good. Look for that place in the world, and you’re bound to fundamentally shift the balance and leave a legacy.”