McCracken attended University of Richmond as a student athlete and planned to play football professionally. However, three shoulder surgeries changed his outlook and after graduation he pursued a career at Timmons Group, a civil engineering, surveying, planning, construction management, landscape architecture, environmental, and technology (GIS) services organization, where he had completed an internship during college. McCracken worked up the technical ranks with in Timmons Geospatial Technology Group and moved into a management role two years ago.

Realizing he lacked the formal training to understand and fulfill the demands of an executive role which McCracken aspires for, he chose to further his education at The Richmond MBA. When it came time to choose an organization for his Capstone Project, he turned to his manager, Randy Trott, for guidance. “Randy had just finished the first strategic planning process of a local charity, Backpacks of Love, and during this process it became clear that further recommendations were necessary,” McCracken shared.

Backpack of Love provides food for meals on weekends to children who struggle with food insecurity. “Many children leave school on Friday and do not have another meal until they return on Monday. As I started learning about the organization, I recognized what amazing work they do and their desire to grow,” McCracken said, “but continuing to fulfil its mission in new areas for more children would require additional resources. Backpacks of Love had historically been based around solving hunger in rural areas where resources were less and the need was greater. To grow, they had to look beyond these areas.”

Before McCracken’s Capstone Project, Backpacks of Love was serving approximately 500 children in three counties-Powhatan, Cumberland, and Buckingham-with donations largely derived from an annual golf tournament. “In January, I began to identify grants to expand Backpacks of Love’s funding streams. I helped them write their first application to the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund, and recently received news that we were awarded the $25,000 grant,” McCracken shared. “Since that time, other grants have been received, and we reached a 40 percent increase in topline donations by receiving these funds. This year Backpacks of Love will serve over 700 children."

McCracken also suggested the organization partner with corporations in Goochland County and look for other growth opportunities with community leaders. McCracken believes his Capstone Project’s recommendations helped define where and how Backpacks of Love can grow to continue serving needy children. Bobby Fulcher, Backpacks of Love’s founder, was so impressed with McCracken’s recommendations that he invited McCracken to serve on the board.

“Being asked to serve alongside the board members is a huge honor,” McCracken shared. “When children don’t have food, they can’t be kids. We are changing the course of children’s lives by providing a basic need Backpack’s of Love enables them to learn, play, have fun, and be children.” 

Learn more about Backpacks of Love.

[1] A required component of The Richmond MBA is the Capstone Project, an assignment that culminates a student’s graduate experience. The objective is to incorporate concepts learned throughout the MBA program to address a strategic challenge facing a host organization.