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Boston Gives 2019: Five Local Businesses Making Philanthropy Their Mission

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Boston’s leading employers care about the city of Boston and its people and proudly support the institutions that provide for the collective well-being of all Bostonians. Below, these Boston businesses share which organizations they choose to support, ways they’re becoming more sustainable, how they’re making their communities better places to work and live, and the “why” behind it all.

We hope their stories inspire you to give time or resources to the worthy causes highlighted here, or those close to your own heart, in this season of giving.

Fast Facts

  • In 2018, about 5% of charitable giving came from corporations, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
  • Corporations gave more than $20 billion to charity in 2018, according tot he National Philanthropic Trust.
  • Massachussetts is ranked the eighth state for charitable giving, according to the World Giving Index.

Ron Ferguson (center) receiving the 2019 Social Justice Award at the Celebration of Social Justice on October 28, 2019. L-> R: Quincy Miller, President & Vice-Chair of Eastern Bank; Wendall Known, Former Leader Director of Eastern Bank; Ron Ferguson PhD, founder of The Basics; Nancy Stager, President & CEO of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation; Robert Rivers, CEO & Chair of Eastern Bank.

Eastern Bank

781-596-8000 | easternbank.com/foundation

America’s oldest and largest mutual bank, Eastern Bank, celebrated 200 years in 2018. Nancy Stager, CEO and president of the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, describes Eastern’s long-term commitment to equity, advocacy, and community support.

How does Eastern Bank give back to its community? Our community strategy includes not only our philanthropy, but also employee volunteerism, advocacy, business practices, and community leadership. This year, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation’s focused area of giving is enriching early childhood development. This commitment will provide more than $3 million in financial support to non-profit organizations across New England working to improve access, affordability, and quality of education and healthcare for children during their pre-natal through pre-kindergarten years. We have also convened the business community on issues that include pay equity, transgender rights, and the prevention of sex trafficking.

What is Celebration of Social Justice? This annual celebration recognizes community advocates who share our commitment to making our communities a better place to work and live. We focused our community service, philanthropy, and advocacy this year on early childhood development. We’re honoring Ron Ferguson and the Boston Basics, an organization he founded that helps children get their best start in life.

How does Eastern’s mission as a company tie into its philanthropic mission? Philanthropists founded our company in Salem to provide people with equal access to a safe place to save and borrow money. That idea remains at the core of our corporate social responsibility mission today, knowing that a community bank like Eastern can only be as strong as the communities we serve. For Eastern, being a business leader is about more than financial achievement. It’s about identifying with our community, bringing people together to address issues we all face, and advocating for change. Join us for good.

The Numbers

  • 10% of Eastern Bank’s net income has gone to local charities since 1999, amounting to more than $140 million since 1999
  • 1,600+ local organizations supported by Eastern Bank

Primark employees participate in the Boston Pride parade repping their Feeling Proud apparel collection.


617-350-5232 | primark.com

From community development to sustainable sourcing to LGBTI rights, Primark has many initiatives aimed at helping the communities in which it operates. The clothing retailer shares the impact of these initiatives and what’s coming next.

You’ve made big strides in recent years toward using more sustainable cotton. What has been the impact so far? In 2013, Primark first launched its sustainable cotton program in India with agricultural experts CottonConnect to help farmers grow more sustainable cotton using less chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and less water. We expanded the program into Pakistan in 2018 and into China in 2019 and announced that more than 160,000 farmers will be trained though the program by 2022. We now offer pajamas, jeans, bedding, and towels all made with sustainably sourced cotton. Our long-term ambition is to make sure all our cotton is sustainably sourced.

How do your donations impact communities globally? Since the launch of our UNICEF partnership and commitment to donate $6 million, thousands of teachers have been trained in multilingual education and positive discipline practices so that schools are a safe place. The partnership has also resulted in new scholarships and improved hygiene facilities.

What are you working on closer to home? In 2019, we donated $195,000 to ILGA World, an international advocate for LGBTI rights, as part of our Feeling Proud collection. Locally, we had more than 60 employees from our U.S. headquarters and our three Boston-area stores participate in the Boston Pride Parade.

What’s next for Primark? Primark and (RED) announced a partnership to fight AIDS with the launch of a new collection of clothing and accessories. The collection will be available in stores from November 22, and a percentage of every purchase generates money for the Global Fund to support life-saving HIV/AIDS programs.

The Numbers

  • $6 million donated to UNICEF in 2018
  • $195,000 donated to ILGA World in 2019

Rockland Trust’s Financial Education Officer Julie Beckham performs Ms. Money & the Coins.

Rockland Trust

508-732-3879 | rocklandtrust.com

Rockland Trust Bank is committed to helping people develop a healthy relationship with money—even if they’re a decade away from being able to open a credit card. That’s why their financial education officer, Julie Beckham, wrote a children’s musical on financial literacy.

You wrote a children’s musical focused on financial literacy. What can you tell us about it? Ms. Money & the Coins makes learning about money fun! This nationally recognized, original musical teaches elementary school students about saving, sharing, and spending money. Using music, magic, dance, and improvisation to teach age-appropriate lessons about personal finance, students leave the show singing and dancing and eager to start saving money.

How does the musical get children interested in personal finance? Children are naturally curious about money. Finances are a topic they hear discussed in their homes but they are rarely invited to participate in the discussion. In Ms. Money & the Coins, we invite them not just to be part of the conversation but to be a part of the show! When you engage children through laughter, the learning naturally follows.

How can a school host Ms. Money & the Coins? Ms. Money & the Coins has been performing free shows on behalf of the Rockland Trust–Blue Hills Charitable Foundation since 2011 and schedules performances in Massachusetts elementary schools throughout the year. Performances can be scheduled by emailing [email protected] and more information can be found at rocklandtrust.com/ms–money-and-the-coins.

How does the musical tie into your broader mission as a company? Having a healthy relationship with money begins at a young age. By providing engaging financial education programming to children in elementary schools, we’re helping build their financial capabilities that will be a part of the foundation of their relationship with money. Being a part of that work, as early as elementary school age, is very rewarding.

The Numbers

  • 60,000 students have seen Ms. Money & the Coins at more than 400 shows since 2011

Steve Gross, M.S.W. Chief Playmaker, Life is Good Kids Foundation, celebrates the Showcase For Good popcorn bucket launch with the staff at Showcase Cinema de Lux Patriot Place.

Showcase Cinemas


Showcase Cinemas believes that giving back to the communities it serves is as important as delivering the ultimate movie-going experience. Rebecca Stein, vice president of U.S. marketing and film studio relations, shares how they’ve given back through time, donations, and yes—movies and popcorn.

What programs are you particularly proud of? We look at our theaters as community gathering points and we use this power to bring people together, raise money, raise awareness, share ideas, and celebrate the communities in which we operate. Creating special programming that also benefits the communities we serve is something we take great pride in. We have served thousands of customers in this way for more than 20 years with programs including Bookworm Wednesdays, our summer literacy program, and Holiday Classics, which brings much needed support to local food banks. Over the past 21 years we have delivered more than 100,000 pounds of non-perishable goods.

What new initiatives are you excited about? Under the banner of Showcase for Good we continue to increase our community involvement and have developed long-term relationships with many nonprofit organizations. In addition to special events, donations of goods or services and in-theater collections, we have found new ways of helping our partners fundraise, including the recent launch of the Showcase for Good on-screen spot highlighting our partnership with select non-profit organizations. Additionally, we are about to launch a Showcase For Good popcorn bucket, which will donate $1 of every bucket purchase to the Life is Good Kids Foundation.

How do your employees get involved? Our movie theater staff is on the front line with many of our Showcase for Good initiatives. They’re very hands-on with events and charitable programs, and they’ll be a driving force in the success of the Showcase for Good popcorn bucket. They frequently make pre-show announcements to raise money for a particular group and enjoy being part of events that support our charitable partners.

The Numbers

  • 21 years of Bookworm Wednesdays, a children’s literacy program offered each summer
  • 21 years of Holiday Classics, a seasonal program that brings in donations for local food pantries

Each year, Joe, his family, and the Tuscan Brands management team give out gift cards to every child (more than 350) at the Greater Salem Boys & Girls Club in New Hampshire. Photo credit: Earl Studios

Tuscan Brands

617-303-7300 | tuscanbrands.com

Italian restaurant and market Tuscan Brands takes a personal, creative approach to serving the community. Founder and CEO Joe Faro shares how the company uses everything from an Italian-style street fair to a culinary arts summer program to give back.

What is Toscana Fest and how was the event created? Toscana Fest is an Italian-style street fair we hold each October at our location in Salem. Local vendors and artisans pay a fee to sell their wares, which is donated to the Lazarus House, an incredible organization that serves as a shelter and food pantry and provides transitional housing and workplace training. In addition to vendors, we have games, a pumpkin patch, delicious food, and more. We match and donate every penny raised to the Lazarus House. We have raised more than $200,000 for the Lazarus House.

In what ways does Tuscan serve young people in the community? Tuscan Brands supports the Boys & Girls Clubs that share a town with our locations. From scholarships to fundraising at golf tournaments and auctions, we want to show our support. We sponsor the Tuscan Brands’ “Youth of the Year” through the Salem, New Hampshire, club. In the summer, we provide a Junior Chef program where kids participate in a culinary arts camp. At the end of the year, the kids provide a four-course meal to donors at $100 per plate. The money raised goes back to the club.

How does Tuscan Brands give back to veterans? Each Veterans Day, we close our four locations to the public and serve a complimentary three-course meal to local veterans and their guests. Our staff lines up to volunteer, and they love being part of this very special event. Last year, we served more than 2,000 veterans. Since we started this program in 2010, we have served more than 15,000 veterans.

What drives Tuscan’s giving? From the corporate office to each employee, we enjoy volunteering our time and talents because we want to be an active part of the community.

The Numbers

  • $220,000 raised for a local shelter
  • 17,000 meals provided to veterans
  • $500,000 donated in 2018