How Humana Volunteer Seun Animashaun Supported Simmons College’s Digital Transformation


With the COVID-19 pandemic reshaping daily life, The Humana Foundation knew that their investment in digital transformation for Simmons College had to go beyond just writing a check.  The Humana Foundation includes Social, Moral, Intellectual, Reputational and Financial (SMIRF) capital in its work, which allows giving to extend beyond simple financial contributions to create true partnerships through offering other important resources at Humana Inc and The Humana Foundation’s disposal.  The Foundation’s $1.3 million dollar grant to Simmons College was part of a $50 million dollar disaster philanthropy investment in COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts, and including a volunteerism component in the partnership with Simmons, stretched the investment even further.  When The Foundation put out a call for volunteers to support this investment, Seun Animashaun, Business Intelligence Director for Humana’s Digital Health and Analytics team, answered that call and embarked upon a volunteerism journey with Simmons College. He and his team’s contributions helped transform the school’s digital offerings and allow safe, at home learning opportunities until students could return to campus.

Seun heard about the project through is DH&A leader, Dan Polk, who had been tapped to help find volunteers for the project.  Living outside of Chicago in Yorkville, Illinois, Seun wasn’t familiar with Simmons College before he volunteered with them.  Seun was, however familiar with other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and learning that Simmons was an HBCU peaked his interest.  He was also interested because he wanted to help students.  Seun said, “The volunteer opportunity made me think back to my time in college at Indiana University and what an important time that was in my life. I wanted to contribute to the success of other students, especially at a time when so much uncertainty and unrest were present in the world.” The partnership with Simmons College ties into Humana’s broader efforts to expand national partnerships with HBCUs including Howard University in Washington, DC, and Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky., to open the door for students of color to get to connect to internships and employment opportunities with the company. Humana is also engaging associates who attended these schools to help with recruiting and long-term pipeline development efforts.

Seun loves all things digital and analytics based, so the project was a natural fit. He was quick to point out that he was one member of an extremely hard working team and that he was in no way responsible for all the work.  The project started with the team, which includes Katie Giles, Sarah Cooke, Christa Brandsen, Jonathan Wicker and Nikki Hatten helping the school with their grant proposal before it was submitted to The Foundation.  “You can only improve what you measure,” Seun says, and to that end, Seun helped Simmons think through what kind of metrics would be best to demonstrate impact, and then built a dashboard that incorporated those measures as a way for the school to track its progress and opportunities for improvement.  While Seun worked on the dashboard, other team members provided creative services, resume writing assistance and extended intellectual capital in other ways.

Seun said the most difficult part of creating the dashboard was clearly defining what measurements were needed and useful.  This included understanding how Simmons currently collects data. It was important that the school guide the team in terms of what measures were useful and what was not.  Seun stressed the importance of collaboration in this, “The approach was to understand where they were and what they needed going forward, rather than assuming we understood.” The tool Seun created is helpful not only for school, but also so we can see how Simmons digital transformation has positively impacted student outcomes.

Almost a year later, the volunteer team is still engaged with Simmons and meeting regularly to discuss ongoing ways to help.  Because dashboards like these are living documents, Seun continues to tweak the tool and has added a component to measure SMIRF capital deployment on Humana’s end.

Seun’s favorite thing about working on this project was the intersection between his passion, digital analytics, and the ability to help students along their educational path. Seun also shared that the project was eye-opening in terms of how different the world of academia is. He loves learning new things, and had a great glimpse into how academic institutions function in comparison to the private sector.  “It’s exciting to think about how much there still is to learn.”

To read more about The Humana Foundation investment in the school click here.

The Humana Foundation believes in grantmaking that goes beyond funding, to create real partnerships through the deployment of Social, Moral, Intellectual, Reputational and Financial capital. If you are a current or prospective Humana Foundation grantee and would like to discuss ways we may be able to help your organization, please contact us at   

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