JPW Fund Helps Connect Cal Poly Students with Nonprofit to Help People with Mental Illness

The James P. Womack Scholarship and Philanthropy Fund (JPW Fund) and the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) teamed up with the primary goal to have two student interns analyze and improve core processes at a nonprofit organization, thus inspiring the organization to implement lean practices by showing them various methods to improve their operations.

Eric O. Olsen awarded the JPW Fund scholarships to Strow Watson and Bianca Pugliese, and they connected with Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) Growing Grounds Nursery.

TMHA provides mental health services throughout the Central Coast of California, including the Growing Grounds Nursery, which provides therapeutic horticulture socialization opportunities, paid employment, and soft job skills training for adults with severe and persistent mental illness.

The students conducted some preliminary analysis to gauge the scope of work, including counting inventory and mapping the nursery layout from a bird’s-eye view. They created a value stream map of two product flows: four-inch specialty succulents and one- and two-quart perennials.

A few specific issues the interns noted in their analysis of the area involved workplace organization and cleanliness, inconsistent work levels, and some confusion about work assignments. They also noticed a lack of standardized work documentation and training on work processes.

They conducted a modified 5S project (due to the pandemic) to improve work area organization and cleanliness, and created an end-of-day standard operating procedure (SOP) to keep the workspace clean
and organized.

Here is a video showing the work area initially before the 5s

Here is a short video after the 5s work was completed

They also defined and set standardized in-process (SIP) inventory (also called SWIP for standardized work-in-process) levels at stations requiring inventory.

They also charted workers’ movements as they completed the work that led to a recommendation to change the order of tasks and rearrange communal workspaces to improve the work environment
and maximize productivity.

Their work was highlighted in detail in a free guide published by JPW Fund, called “Assessing a New Way to Develop More Lean Thinkers