When Dianna Kelly, GB’17, began thinking about her Capstone Project, she knew she wanted to work with a non-profit.

“I feel like I’ve been very lucky in my career in business, and I was looking for a way to give back,” Kelly said. She is set to graduate from The Richmond MBA program this fall, and wanted to make a difference in the Richmond community.

Debbie Fisher, associate director of graduate studies, paired her with the New Community School, a small school in Richmond for students with dyslexia and learning differences.

“Dianna wanted to help an organization that helped others,” Fisher said.  “She supports several Richmond organizations through her volunteer work, and she saw the Capstone as another way to help the community.”

In January, Kelly visited the New Community School campus in Bellevue to get an idea of the administration, teachers, and students she would be working with.

“Just observing some of their classes, it was really great to see how the teachers engage with these children,” Kelly said. That passion has inspired her project to help them expand their reach to other children in the area.

“They wanted me to assess whether pursuing tutoring opportunities would be viable for them,” Kelly said. “They have a school in the north side, and they have a limited footprint, so they can only help so many children a year,” Kelly said.

Her goal is to search for options throughout the Richmond area, and present her findings to the Board of Trustees.

“I’m looking at the whole central Virginia region and seeing what other resources are available, and maybe not just whether a tutoring program would work for them, but perhaps how they could use another method, electronic or online, to reach more people,” Kelly said.

Susan Quinn is the president of the Board of Trustees for the New Community School, and agreed to mentor Kelly in her project.

“It’s an assessment of what other programs are out there,” Quinn said. “She is exploring what the needs might be in the community, and how the school can help.”

Quinn explained the New Community School is the only school of its kind in the area. The board is hoping to find a way to share their experience through tutoring or partnering with other groups to make sure the children who can’t make it to their campus can still get the support they need. 

“We want to find out if there are revenue models where we can support people struggling with dyslexia outside of our campus,” Quinn said. “This school provides students with a powerful place to find their strength. And we want to share that.”

The end goal would be to open a tutoring center, or partner with other tutoring groups to cater directly with students challenged by dyslexia or other learning differences.

“They want to help as many people as possible, so I’m hoping that I can show them a path to maximize the number of people that they can impact while still being financially sound,” Kelly said.

You can find out more about the New Community School on their website or their Facebook page.