Collaboration is Key — Covalent Training Helps Fellows and Nonprofits Make a Social Impact

Almost everybody is touched by breast cancer in some way, and Covalent is proud to help progress My Density Matters’ vision of creating a world where breast density no longer hinders the early detection of breast cancer.
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When it comes to developing a treatment plan against breast cancer, collaboration is key. Doctors, nurses, family and support groups all play crucial roles in helping people fight the No. 1 most-diagnosed cancer worldwide.

The same core tenet of collaboration defines the relationships Covalent has built with students, mentors and small businesses across the Chicagoland area, including My Density Matters, a recently established nonprofit whose mission is to empower women to understand breast density and the tools available when it comes to screening options. Leslie Ferris Yerger founded the nonprofit following her diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer in November 2017, and finding the right partnerships within and outside the medical community allowed My Density Matters to continue to expand.

“If we don’t collaborate, we won’t get to execute our mission very well,” Yerger said. “The same would be true (with the relationship between My Density Matters and Covalent) here.”

My Density Matters Launch
My Density Matters Launch on July 20, 2021

Part of the collaborative process for My Density Matters in 2021 involved Covalent’s training sessions and variety of guest speakers. In tandem, these educational opportunities helped prepare Covalent fellow Carmel Bumaa and My Density Matter’s Susan LePlae Miller to start on the same page and hit the ground running on their project.

Miller is the vice president of programs & partnerships at My Density Matters and played an instrumental role in helping the nonprofit form partnerships with medical professionals, local businesses and breast cancer organizations ahead of its recent launch this summer. She’s also involved in her second go-around with Covalent after participating in the inaugural cohort with Long Grove Tavern, and has seen the direct impact of Covalent’s training programs.

“It helps to see what (the fellow) is being taught so we can learn from it, as well,” Miller, who participated in Covalent’s sessions on brand strategy, graphic design, SEO and website design, said. “It’s a win-win opportunity and we’re all about helping one another and engaging students who want to be engaged.”

Covalent’s two-week training program, which incorporates a wide range of learning, work-based and social goals, enabled Bumaa to feel prepared as the beginning stages of her project with My Density Matters came into light. Although she said the session on website development and Squarespace is likely the most applicable to her future career endeavors, the training days on social media strategy and management provided a strong foundation for her project.

Bumaa’s project at My Density Matters featured the development of a content calendar, copywriting social posts and forming templates for the organization to use following the conclusion of this summer’s cohort.

“I’ve gotten ideas of posting inspirational quotes, news articles and other weekly, relevant topics to engage and motivate (followers) to take action,” Bumaa said.

An understanding of My Density Matters’ mission of turning education into action when it comes to breast density and screening options is key for Bumaa, whose relationship with the group strengthened via training sessions both parties took part in.

“We’re always looking to help other people and I think it’s always a two-way street,” Yerger said. “(Carmel) and Covalent get to help us and we get to help her learn and grow along her career path.”

“We’re very focused on that action piece,” Miller said. “We don’t want you to just know about breast density. We want you to do something about it, and Carmel’s work on social media is helping us create the tools to help people move beyond awareness.”

Yerger echoed the sentiment, noting the proactive nature of Bumaa’s social media project, which is an aspect developed in part thanks to the brand strategy and social media strategy sessions Covalent offered to fellows, mentors and small businesses in mid-June.

“She’s helping us get under control so we’re ahead of the curve with our messaging instead of always chasing our tails with content,” Yerger said. “There’s a little bit more mindfulness to it.”

The project has been equally successful and rewarding for Bumaa, who, like Miller, is involved in her second cohort with Covalent.

“I think the most-rewarding thing about this has been getting to know another group of people, another small business in Chicago and its journey,” Bumaa said.

And it is undoubtedly a worthwhile journey, which found new heights with the nonprofit’s July 20 launch event.

“We were working our tails off as individuals just following our hearts, really, just trying to get the word out about our mission,” Yerger said. “The launch was really just the culmination of that whole concept and it was our acknowledgement of moving beyond where we were and getting bigger, better and faster.”

Almost everybody is touched by breast cancer in some way, and Covalent is proud to help progress My Density Matters’ vision of creating a world where breast density no longer hinders the early detection of breast cancer.

If you are a nonprofit interested in Covalent’s work, reach out to us at community@thisiscovalent.org.

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