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July 06, 2015

Community service runs the gamut

San Jose Mercury News

Carole Lucido

The range and style of charitable giving and philanthropy varies widely among the Top Bay Area Workplaces. For some, giving and community service is linked to the corporate mission or identity while for others it is a facet of operations that brings employees together to work on causes outside of their normal roles. There is no doubt that corporate giving pays dividends in terms of social responsibility, public relations and drawing millennial employees who may be looking for a greater connection with the causes they support.

East Bay Innovation Inc. is an example of a company that has tailored its community service efforts to coincide with its mission, which is to serve individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities so that they may live in their own homes, have jobs, and connect with their communities. At East Bay Innovation, community service is focused on building communities that accept those with disabilities.

Northstar Memorial Group, a company that operates four funeral and memorial parks, celebrates diversity and the traditions of different cultures. They host celebrations complete with lively music, entertainment, food and refreshments. They welcome the community for holidays like Dia de los Muertos in November, two events to celebrate Chinese culture, Memorial Day and a celebration for Black History month.

Electronic Arts Inc. of Redwood City houses a nonprofit organization on its campus. GlassLab is "exploring the potential for digital games to serve both as potent learning environments and as real-time assessments of student learning," according to its website. This summer, EA also plans to host "Girls Who Code" - a day for female youth to learn about careers and opportunities in technology. The company offers a donation-matching program, which empowers employees to give back to the local community.

KeyPoint Credit Union offers a financial literacy program at San Jose State University as well as programs to support the Bill Wilson Center and the March of Dimes.

GoDaddy offers six programs for charitable giving: GoDaddy Gives (financial support for nonprofit partners); GoDaddy Inspires (paid time for employees to volunteer for their choice of charities); GoDaddy Dollars for Doers (grants); GoDaddy Shares (discounts on website services); GoDaddy Matches (matching funds); and Round Up for Charity (customers round up their GoDaddy purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to charity).

The FedEx Northern California community project list for 2014-2015 fills nearly a full page. Causes include AIDS LifeCycle, Boys and Girls Club, Golden Gate National Parks, March of Dimes, the Oakland Zoo, Alameda County Community Food Bank, two toy drives, Project Open Hand, and the United Way.

Kidder Mathews, a commercial real estate leader, supports organizations in the community such as Bayview-Hunters Point Senior Community, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, California Pacific Medical Center Foundation, Children's Health Council at Stanford, Christmas in April Foundation, Family House in San Francisco, Foothill Entrepreneur Center in Santa Clara County, Forward Edge International, Los Lomitas Educational Foundation, Menlo School Annual Fund, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, Project Homeless Connect, San Jose Family Shelter, Shelter Network of San Mateo County, Special Olympics of Santa Clara, The Boys and Girls Club of East Palo Alto, The Guardsmen, and Trust in Education.

The employees at Collaborative Solutions, one of the original Workday partner companies that helps deploy cloud-based solutions to enterprise customers, feel so strongly about supporting Autism Speaks, that they joined in a march across Washington, D.C., and donated nearly $30,000 last October.

Another Top Workplace member, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, is a family of real estate companies that founded the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Community Foundation and the Realogy Charitable Foundation. They use these non-profit organizations to manage all of their philanthropic and volunteer activities.

Advanced Food Concepts / GU Energy Labs, a sports nutrition company in Berkeley, focuses its charitable contribution on the outdoor sports community. Through "GU Gives" the Challenged Athletes Foundation bought prosthetics to help child amputees participate in sports, and the NorCal arm of National Interscholastic Cycling Association equipped 700 high school athletes with bikes in 2014.

Capital One, with 42,000 employees in the U.S. and 85 in the Bay Area, believes in helping expand economic opportunity and enhancing community well being. In January of this year, Capital One was a Diamond Sponsor of the inaugural Tech Superwomen Summit in San Francisco. The event brought together over 300 influential tech leaders, executives, students and young professionals for insightful conversations on the issues that impact women, with special attention on STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) and entrepreneurship. This field is booming in San Francisco and encouraging women's advancement in this regard touches the lives of a great deal of professionals in the Bay Area.

BKF Engineers of Redwood City, a civil engineering firm established in 1915, supports three Rebuilding Together events in the Bay Area. They also donate food to Second Harvest Food Bank and participate in the Heart Walk and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Charles Schwab through the Charles Schwab Foundation, partners with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to provide a financial education program to Club teens across the U.S. To date, well over half a million teens have successfully completed the program. Employee philanthropy and volunteerism are encouraged throughout the year, highlighted by Schwab Volunteer Week each May that benefits thousands of charitable organizations nationwide.

For every installation, Clean Solar donates $250 to charity in the homeowner's name. Established in 2007, the company's current 40 employees have given back to local schools and education by donating salad bars, playground equipment and cash. Employees are active members of the San Jose Rotary, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Young Entrepreneurs Organization, BBB, Vistage and Baseball San Jose.

CD & Power, a Martinez based generator service business with 44 employees encourages employee donations to local food banks, Heart Walks, and a Christmas program called Samaritan's Purse that distributed gift boxes to needy children world wide. Even some of the company's customers got into the act of giving.

Santa Clara based Citrix Systems Inc. allows its 1,100 employees 16 hours worth of paid time each year to offer their talent and expertise to the charity of their choice. The company also offers a matching gift program for its employees globally.

Aerotek, a staffing company that hopes to develop tomorrow's skilled workforce, gives back to the community by supporting underserved populations by partnering with organizations that support employment, education and STEM disciplines.

Dudum Real Estate Group, of Walnut Creek considers its support of various charities to be an important part of its business. They focus on the scholarship fund of the Contra Costa Association of Realtors, the Taylor Family Foundation, HomeAid and other charities that provide housing for families in need.

HFS Consultants, a Oakland-based provider of financial and strategic management services to hospitals and healthcare organizations, has a Social Responsibility Steering Committee that matches charitable pro-bono work with causes that are important to employees on local, national and international levels.

Commerce Home Mortgage, headquartered in San Ramon, proudly supported "Homes for Our Troops," a foundation that builds specially-adapted homes for severely injured veterans, with a donation of over $20,000. In the coming year, they plan to participate in Habitat for Humanity and to serve meals to the homeless at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin in San Francisco.

Founded in 2009, Bigcommerce is an e-commerce platform that provides the tools and resources for established and emerging businesses to launch and manage a successful online store. A volunteer committee meets every month and decides on which charitable organization to support for monthly volunteer events. Called "Hearts in Carts" the 450 employees actively participate using their "finances, platform and hearts to make the world we live in a better place."

With 683 Bay Area employees, Stryker Endoscopy supports numerous organizations around the globe to increase access to healthcare and make healthcare better. They support CURE International, Operation Smile, Operations Walk, and United Way.

Stryker Neurovascular also earned a place on the TWP list. Its employees earn extra vacation time for volunteer work, and participated in Rebuilding Together, Girls on the Run, the Family Giving Tree and Go Red for Women.

Sequoia, one of the largest insurance and benefits consulting firms in California, focuses its giving on children's health with support of the Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto. Volunteer programs also include Second Harvest Food Drive, coat and back pack drives and sponsoring families during the holidays.

SThree, the parent company of staffing and recruiting firms, has adopted a global charity that houses and educates foster children around the world while keeping siblings together. In the company's San Francisco office, employees help local disadvantaged youths get work and office experience through "Home Away from Home" and "Newdoor Ventures."

Lending creative perspectives to charitable giving, Bay Area businesses all seem to make teamwork and generosity integral parts of their community outreach.

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