Decipher Investigative Intelligence, Secure Community Network, UMSL win Innovation in Philanthropy Award

Decipher Investigative Intelligence interns Shawanda Martin, Hufsa Siddiqui and Zachary Weiss

UMSL students (from left) Shawanda Martin, Hufsa Siddiqui and Zachary Weiss have spent the semester interning at Decipher Investigative Intelligence and helping with helping with prehire screenings for nonprofit Secure Community Network. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized the partnership with an Innovation in Philanthropy Award. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Decipher Investigative Intelligence Founder and CEO Michael Ellenhorn described the good fortune in the way it all came together.

About the same time last fall he was meeting with University of Missouri–St. Louis Geospatial Collaborative Director Will Werner to talk about developing an internship program to train UMSL students in intelligence gathering and analysis to assist clients, Ellenhorn also was in conversations with the nonprofit Secure Community Network about helping with prehire screenings for the organization, which is dedicated to the safety and security of the American Jewish community.

“It was only later on that we figured out that the skill sets that we were training the interns in, that there would be a great application tied to the nonprofit work that we do,” Ellenhorn said.

However it came about, Ellenhorn and his team developed a novel approach that combined the resources and talents of business and higher education and used them to serve the needs of a nonprofit. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized the partnership between Decipher, UMSL and Secure Community Network with an Innovation in Philanthropy Award. It was one of four initiatives honored as part of the third annual awards.

“That’s not why we do it,” Ellenhorn said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice. But I think the important thing, especially in the business community, is that these awards are shining a light on the importance of these types of collaborations.”

Decipher assists large and midsize law firms in gathering intelligence and doing pre-hire due diligence, and it was easy to see how it also could be of service to Secure Community Network, which works across 146 federations, 50 partner organizations and more than 300 independent communities.

The company set UMSL student interns Shawanda Martin, Hufsa Siddiqui and Zachary Weiss to work on a project helping with prehire screenings.

“This really does make a difference in terms of how organizations operate,” Werner said.

Werner was grateful to see the interns’ contributions recognized.

“The award itself is definitely a Decipher award,” he said. “They’re doing a lot of good work in the sense that they came up with the idea to help out and serve the community in that space. They’re paying our interns to be part of this project, so they’re definitely making a donation. We’re glad we can be working with these types of organizations that are doing really good work – award winning work, clearly. That’s what we’re hoping to do and hoping to be part of as we grow the Collaborative in the region.”


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