Boston Gives: How 15 Local Companies Contribute to the Community
Corporate social responsibility has never been more critical, and Boston businesses are stepping up to offer nonprofits vital financial support, volunteer hours, and expertise. Below, some of Boston’s most generous corporate philanthropists share which organizations they choose to support and how they’re making an impact, both locally and globally. Through their stories, we hope you’ll come to appreciate their efforts on behalf of our city. Click through the links below to find out how you can donate your time and resources to these organizations, too!
Big Night Entertainment Group
617-338-4343 | bneg.com
Big Night Big Heart is a charitable foundation created by New England hospitality company Big Night Entertainment Group. Owner Ed Kane explains how they partner with qualified charitable organizations to transform local communities through volunteering, fundraising events, and donations.
How does your expertise as a hospitality company guide your giving? We love giving back to our local communities and helping our neighbors in any way we can. For example, the St. Francis House, which is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, daytime shelter, is located directly next to our Café, Restaurant & Bar Explorateur on Boston Common. We thought it would be a great idea to give our guests the chance to get involved by having the opportunity to donate to their cause and in exchange, they received a heart to put their names on throughout the month of February. Most recently, we featured a “Pink Lady” cocktail at all of our venues and donated $1 from every drink sold to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of the fight against breast cancer.
How do your employees get involved? Our employees love getting involved, and there are many avenues they can take to do so at BNEG. Whether it’s donating their time to volunteer or coming up with a special to feature in-house that will benefit a foundation of their choice, we love supporting causes they are passionate about. One of our favorite events to participate in is the Annual Best Buddies event. Everyone gets involved—from waitstaff to ownership.
What event is BNEG most proud of? Adopt-a-Family is a local charity we contribute to annually around Christmas. Our employees raise funds and ownership matches or exceeds the total donations from employees to give to local families every year. Last year, we were able to provide a family with a new bedroom set, a living room set, a room full of toys, and rent for three months. They were struggling with medical bills due to a family member fighting cancer, so we wanted to do everything we could to help. We adopted a total of eight families last year.
617-521-5400 | connellypartners.com/about
From paying off employees’ student loans to teaching high school students the basics of marketing, Connelly Partners is rethinking what corporate giving looks like. The president of the advertising agency, Steve Connelly, discusses why it’s important to help the people around you, beyond just signing a check.
What volunteer work does Connelly Partners participate in? We give creatively based on differences we can make in our immediate world. One of our tent-pole programs supports our South End community by inviting more students of color into the world of marketing, while another key program helps our staff pay down their student loans.
How are you working with students at Cathedral High? Cathedral High School (CHS) is across the street from our office, and it’s a school of talented and hardworking kids. We saw a chance to introduce them to advertising, to invite more students of color into our business, and to let them see a career path they might not have ever noticed. With the help of CHS headmaster Oscar Santos, two years ago we started teaching an introduction to marketing course at the school, which provides industry fundamentals and real-world experience. We also produce content, hire students as interns, and are helping launch a makerspace at the school. The students enjoy being connected to our agency.
What is Gradifi and how has it helped your employees? We saw that our young employees were under enormous pressure from their student loan balances, so we decided to support our workforce and help to pay down their student loan balances through Gradifi, a student loan pay-down program. Connelly Partners gives each employee an initial $1,000 and an additional $100 per month.
What makes Connelly unique in the way it supports the community? We choose to give of ourselves, our talent, and our resources in ways that create real change. As an agency, we truly care about people, so we feel fulfilled by not just giving but by doing.
America’s oldest and largest mutual bank, Eastern Bank, celebrates 200 years in 2018. Nancy Stager, Eastern’s executive vice president of human resources and charitable giving, describes Eastern’s advocacy and community support.
How does Eastern Bank give back to its community, and what types of charity organizations does Eastern partner with? Our community strategy includes not only our philanthropy, but also employee volunteerism, advocacy, business practices, and community leadership. This year alone, Eastern has donated more than $2 million to community-based organizations working on the advancement of women and girls, and held 200 employee volunteer events. 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? Now in its 30th year, 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 advancing women, so our 2018 event will recognize people and organizations addressing a wide range of issues that disproportionately impact women and girls, such as pay equity, self-esteem, healthcare, and more.
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.
Godfrey Hotel Boston
617-804-2000 | godfreyhotelboston.com
A storied hotel in the heart of the city, Godfrey Hotel Boston is driven to give back to the local communities that make up their workforce. Paul Sauceda, director of sales and marketing, shares how they’re helping the neighborhood and the region through a caringly selected array of charitable organizations.
How does the Godfrey Hotel Boston determine which nonprofits to support? Our first criteria is that they’re local. We start with our downtown neighborhood then spread out from there. Beyond location, we focus on organizations that reflect the values of our hotel and the diversity of our staff. We have employees of many different nationalities, ethnicities, and ages, and we believe we have a responsibility to support the communities on which we rely.
How do you encourage employees to volunteer in the community? Luckily, our employees want to volunteer. What Godfrey is able to do is facilitate opportunities, such as volunteering at a shelter or food bank. The hotel also compensates employees for the time they are volunteering.
What are some contributions of which you are particularly proud? We’re proud to support Chinese community organizations, such as the Wang YMCA and the Kwong Kow Chinese School After School Program, with more than $100,000 in cash donations. We also support several LGBT organizations, such as the Boston Pride Committee and the LGBT Asylum Task Force, a small organization that provides basic needs such as housing, clothing, and food to refugees from countries where being an LGBT person may be a death sentence.
What other organizations have you contributed to? Since opening in early 2016, the Godfrey has donated approximately $520,000 in cash and in-kind donations to organizations including the Boston Asian Youth Essential Service, Youth Ready for Work Program, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a remarkable organization that provides a wide array of services to homeless youth.
KIND Healthy Snacks
KIND believes in making nutritious and delicious snacks. They also believe in celebrating and inspiring kindness. Marketing Manager Matt McWilliams shares how Bostonians can get involved in the company’s mission to build healthier and kinder communities.
What is the KIND Movement? The KIND Movement is KIND’s mission to make the world a little kinder. It has been a part of the company’s DNA since 2004. KIND was founded as a “not-only-for-profit” company; our business aims to be both economically sustainable and socially impactful. For our founder, Daniel Lubetzky, the movement is personal. His dad survived the Holocaust due to the kindness of strangers, including a German soldier who gave him food when he was starving. This showed Daniel that small acts of kindness can change the world. Our team shares this belief and looks to recognize and celebrate the kindness of Bostonians every chance we get.
How can the city get involved in the movement? Bostonians help spread the KIND Movement by celebrating everyday acts of kindness with a #kindawesome card. Each card has a special code, which the recipient can enter online to receive a complimentary KIND bar, along with another card to pay it forward. People spot kind acts on the T all the time!
What can educators do to encourage kindness among students? The KIND Foundation’s signature initiative is Empatico, a free video conferencing tool that connects students worldwide. From Ghana to Vietnam to the United States, teachers are committed to sparking empathy in their students. In Massachusetts, 31 elementary school teachers have registered—we’d love to see that number go up!
Why is it so important to give back to others? When people are overcome with emotion from a simple act, it reminds you that you never know what people are going through and the power that a small, kind gesture can have. Connect with us on social media @kindsnacks.
617-426-0604 | lazparking.com
Founded in 1981 with a single valet location, LAZ Parking has grown to become the second largest parking company in America. Regional Vice President Brian Haley discusses the accomplishments of the company’s foundation and their commitment to employees, clients, and the local community.
What inspired you to create the LAZ Parking Charitable Foundation? We have always been very involved with charities near and dear to us. In 2010, we created the LAZ Parking Charitable Foundation to contribute time and financial resources to charitable organizations that make a positive difference in people’s lives. The creation of the foundation also allowed us to align our regional offices to focus on a primary charity for fundraising and volunteer activities to give our 12,100 employees the opportunity to give back to their communities in a significant way.
How do you choose the charitable organizations you support? Our national sponsorship is determined by a selection process with input from each regional office. We reach out to all employees, and they are offered the ability to submit an application for a charity to be considered for our national fundraising efforts. In addition, the local offices have the ability to donate a portion of funds raised to sponsor other charities that are important to that region. For example, we have been supporting the Special Olympics nationally for more than 10 years, and this selection came from one of our employees whose son is a Special Olympics athlete.
How does giving back to the Boston community tie back to the goals of your company? LAZ Parking has a strong people culture. We are very passionate about supporting our team, clients, and the community. Since starting the foundation, our employees are more connected to giving back. They come to us with different charities they feel can use our support, which allows us to live out our company values. The connections we make volunteering are very powerful and help build teamwork and camaraderie.
Life is Good
603-594-6100 | lifeisgood.com/foundation
The original positive lifestyle brand Life is Good has supported kids in need from the start. Founders Bert and John Jacobs created the Life is Good Kids Foundation in 2010. The foundation’s Chief Playmaker Steve Gross shares how its Playmaker Program helps more than 1 million kids heal from trauma each year.
How does Life is Good and The Life is Good Kids Foundation model work? Life is Good is a positive lifestyle brand that inspires people to choose optimism to improve their lives and the lives of others. This mission inspires the work of The Life is Good Kids Foundation, which spreads the power of optimism to help kids heal. The Life is Good company donates 10 percent of their annual net profits to the foundation, which covers about 25 percent of the foundation’s operating budget. They also donate a myriad of in-kind services: from leadership and marketing support to office space. These resources help the foundation provide training, resources, tools, and support to the teachers, social workers, and childcare professionals who work with kids impacted by trauma—helping them to heal, grow, and thrive.
How does the foundation support teachers, nurses, and childcare professionals, and why does it focus on these groups? Working with children who have been affected by poverty, violence, and severe illness is hard work. The toll it can take on caregivers can negatively impact their lives and work. We support teachers, nurses, and childcare professionals with training and tools to ensure they can be their most optimistic selves.
How has the foundation boosted company spirit? Knowing that every touch point of our business is an opportunity to help children gives great meaning to even the smallest business task. Knowing that we help grow the good in the lives of children fuels us every day.
What is the proudest accomplishment of the foundation? We’re proud to have supported more than 10,000 childcare professionals who together serve more than one million of our nation’s most vulnerable children.
617-536-3660 | neimanmarcus.com
With the season of giving upon us, Neiman Marcus is more focused than ever on empowering children through the gift of art. Vice President and General Manager Daniel Kramer shares how the Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation brings meaningful art experiences to communities in need.
Why did you choose to focus on youth arts through the Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation? As one of the few retailers in the world with its own corporate art collection, art is deeply woven throughout the fabric of Neiman Marcus’ heritage, brand, and culture. Engagement with the arts, especially for youth, impacts educational success, which then pays it forward throughout the community. Research shows that students who receive an arts-infused curriculum tend to matriculate and graduate at higher rates, score higher on the SAT, and become more creative problem solvers and engaged civic leaders. The foundation is dedicated to supporting the next generation of artists.
What local charities do you partner with and why? Our co-founder Herbert Marcus always said, “It is not enough to take from the communities in which we operate; we must also give back.” It has always been an integral part of our core values to support our local communities, and this remains a guiding principal today. We’ve partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, Music Drives Us, Lovelane, and Artists for Humanity, and support hundreds of arts organizations locally through silent auction donations.
What goals have you set for 2019? We’re furthering our philanthropic tradition by pledging support to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth Arts Education programs, serving 4.3 million kids and teens across 4,300 clubs nationwide. Neiman Marcus has pledged $750,000 over three years to both local and national programs that bring meaningful art experiences to communities in need. As in years past, a portion of every 2018 Fantasy Gift in our Holiday Book is donated to the Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.
617-243-6000 | nwh.org
Newton-Wellesley Hospital is working to address unmet healthcare needs of vulnerable populations through their Collaborative for Healthy Families and Communities (CHF&C). Director of Community Benefits and Volunteer Services Lauren Lele gives insight on the program’s success.
What benefits does the CHF&C provide to the community? The collaborative provides rehabilitation clinics, health fairs, and screenings for skin cancer and the flu, and we host events such as Think Pink for breast cancer awareness, as well as career nights for high school students. We offer community education sessions addressing post-partum depression, youth mental health, concussion awareness, and much more. We also collaborate with many other agencies to organize activities and ensure that together we are effectively supporting and responding to community needs, such as the distribution of Narcan.
What impact has the CHF&C had on young people in the area? We support the hiring of youth through the Waltham Partnership for Youth Internship program so they can learn about careers in healthcare, and we funded the Youth Interpreters program, which offers students job training, career development, and paid employment. These efforts are designed to address social determinants such as housing and food insecurity that often lead to physical and mental health challenges. We provide free meals to disadvantaged youth during the summer months through the Summer Meals program for students.
How does the CHF&C relate to Newton-Wellesley’s mission statement? Our founding more than 135 years ago was in response to the need for medical care in our community. As a mission-driven organization, helping those in need is a big part of who we are and why we exist. If you ask our employees why they got into healthcare, one of the most frequent responses is, “because I wanted to help people.” We also realize that everyone needing care might not be able to get to the hospital, so it’s important for us to bring care directly to our community.
617-350-5232 | primark.com
Primark is an international clothing retailer with stores in Downtown Crossing, Braintree, and Burlington. Primark U.S. President Jose Luis Martinez de Larramendi shares how the company shoulders responsibility for the well-being of the communities it impacts.
What is the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme? The Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme trains small-holder farmers in sustainable farming methods. It includes independent cotton farmers in India, and we have recently expanded it to Pakistan. So far, more than 26,000 farmers have received or are receiving training through the program. Farmers are taught by CottonConnect on the best farming techniques for their land, including seed selection, sowing, picking, and more.
What other ways does the program help communities? We’ve partnered with agriculture experts, CottonConnect, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association to train female farmers in making sustainable, higher-quality cotton. This helps us move toward 100 percent sustainable cotton in our supply chain, while the farmers are able to contribute to their families and communities.
What goals are you hoping to achieve through your partnership with UNICEF? Our work with UNICEF is two-pronged: emergency response operations and education. Primark has made a $6 million commitment to support UNICEF’s global emergency response operations and to fund an education program in Cambodia. This will result in 9,000 vulnerable and at-risk children attending school for the first time, 28,000 children completing their education, and 52,000 children learning in safe environments.
What has this partnership achieved so far? Our emergency response support has aided UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The area was devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami, leaving thousands of children in need of support. We’re helping UNICEF provide them with education, health, nutrition, and more.
617-439-3118, 800-242-0272 | radiusbank.com
Through a partnership with March of Dimes and the creation of a personal deposit account that gives back through everyday banking activities, Radius Bank doesn’t hesitate to be proactive in helping others. President and CEO Mike Butler explains how the Boston-based virtual bank invests in the community.
Why did Radius Bank partner with March of Dimes? A large part of our mission is to give back to the communities in which we live and serve. March of Dimes is a national organization with local impact, leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Through our partnership, we’re uniting communities and helping families across the nation.
What have been the biggest charitable accomplishments so far? Radius launched Superhero Checking, a program in which Radius matches all interest earned by account holders and donates the funds to March of Dimes. Radius also donates 1 percent of all debit card transactions to support advocacy, education, and research toward improving the health of every mom and baby. We also support the organization through events like March of Dimes Mom and Baby Summit and March for Babies, where families can share inspiring stories and raise funds for lifesaving research and community-based programs. Learn more at radiusbank.com/personal/superhero-checking.
How have Radius team members and customers benefited from being involved in philanthropy? Participating in charity events has fostered a work environment based on respect and accountability. In terms of our customers, we offer them a chance to contribute without the inconvenience of traditional giving.
How does your charity work reflect the company mission of Radius? We foster a rewarding work environment focused on what matters most to our employees. Our philanthropic efforts also contribute to local economic and social growth. We believe that when a society supports every family, the future is brighter for us all.
866-257-8080 | sentient.com
Sentient Jet prides itself on offering a more thoughtful way to fly, and this concept and mission extends into their charitable work. President and CEO Andrew Collins shares why he is proud to support a number of great causes through raising awareness, event sponsorship, and direct contributions.
How does Sentient Jet choose the organizations it supports? We like to balance support of organizations based in our own backyard, such as Banned in Boston, and national organizations, like No Kid Hungry. We also focus on charities where our cardholders live and travel, such as Nantucket and Aspen.
What is Homes For Our Troops, and how have you contributed to it? Local nonprofit Homes For Our Troops builds specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, enabling them to focus on rebuilding their lives. Our awareness campaign for Homes For Our Troops began with the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Generating significant local and national media attention, we helped raise nearly $80,000 in direct donations. We also hosted veterans at each of the Triple Crown races, which was a wonderful way to connect with these amazing individuals.
How does Sentient Jet give back through event sponsorship? One of the most significant ways we are able to contribute to a cause is through curated auction packages, which always include flight time with us. The Sentient Flight Card is often part of a larger package that may feature one of our partners, such as a VIP Aspen ski weekend.
Why is it important to you to support local charities? We are committed to offering a “more thoughtful way to fly” and our dedication to the Boston community is a significant piece of this brand promise. We pride ourselves on offering cardholders a personalized experience, and we extend this philosophy to our charitable commitments. Although we support a number of causes around the country, we are passionate about digging into our local community and forging meaningful relationships with organizations in the area.
617-445-3500 | suffolk.com
Suffolk is a construction company that believes in the power of people. Chairman and CEO John Fish shares how they are providing resources, expertise, and financial support for future generations, and why they are passionate about taking a holistic approach to giving back.
What is Scholar Athletes, and how does it help young people? Scholar Athletes works to close the opportunity gap for more than 5,000 high school students across Massachusetts. Participants are supported by full-time staff with academic coaching, health and wellness programming, and college and career planning. Last year, 98 percent of senior members graduated high school, and 96 percent of members who applied to post-secondary institutions were accepted. Scholar Athletes also makes college more financially accessible by partnering with colleges to provide scholarships and educational experiences worth more than $5 million.
How does Suffolk look out for its employees? Led and managed by Suffolk employees, our innovative nonprofit Suffolk Giving Circle program supports the Suffolk family in times of greatest need, including medical emergencies and natural disasters. Employee donations total more than $500,000 each year.
How has Suffolk involved its employees in its charitable initiatives? We provide employees with weekly volunteer opportunities. During our inaugural Caring Month, hundreds of Suffolk employees volunteered throughout the country. We also recently held a build-a-bike event, where our employees worked with local kids to build bikes the kids could take home.
What feedback do you receive from your partner organizations? They become excited about our more holistic approach to giving back. Rather than simply signing checks or sending T-shirt-clad employees to volunteer events, we truly listen to the needs of our nonprofit partners and collaborate with them to identify the most thoughtful, productive ways to provide support.
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 progam 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.
508-222-2479 | willowtreefarm.com
As a family-owned and -operated business for more than 60 years, Willow Tree understands the impact that commitment to the community can make. Their deep-rooted connection with New England and the importance they place on family have created a lasting impact.
What organizations does Willow Tree support? Over the years, Willow Tree has contributed both monetary and product donations to organizations including the Julia Cekala Charitable Foundation, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Goodwill. Oftentimes, our team will be on-site handing out chicken salad sandwiches or helping pack baskets with Willow Tree turkeys for annual events like Goodwill’s Thanksgiving-In-A-Basket. While all three of these organizations have international reach, we’ve witnessed the direct, positive impact they’ve had within our community throughout the years.
What is the Julia Cekala Charitable Foundation, and why was it created? The Julia Cekala Charitable Foundation was created in memory of Willow Tree owners Walter and Lynda Cekala’s daughter Julia, who passed away in 2003 at 9 years old. Julia was diagnosed with autism, epilepsy, and kidney failure, and was awaiting a kidney transplant. She was a brave little girl who deeply inspired those who knew her, and the foundation was created to celebrate her vibrant spirit and educate people about autism, kidney donation and transplantation, and innovative medical treatment options available for those facing similar challenges. One of our biggest accomplishments thus far has been helping fund the foundation.
What goals does Willow Tree have moving forward? The Cekala family and Willow Tree take pride in supporting various nonprofit and charitable organizations in the area and enjoy giving back to our local community. In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing to support causes close to our hearts and enhancing awareness of the Julia Cekala Charitable Foundation.
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