By Mary Wong, President, Office Depot Foundation
The Office Depot Foundation (ODF) held a “National Conversation on Community Renewal” at the National Press Club on Friday. The event featured leaders from three local communities who have played key roles in implementing innovative civil society initiatives to help their areas recover from natural as well as economic disasters.
- Elkhart Common Council President Rod Roberson discussed an inspirational back-to-school community-wide initiative that put vital resources into the hands of the unemployed, including Office Depot Foundation backpacks for their elementary school-age children.
- San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President Ruben Barrales discussed how partnerships helped San Diego businesses work with the community to recover from the massive 2007 wildfires.
- And from New Orleans, Broadmoor Community Development Corporation executive director Hal Roark discussed how partnerships with businesses and academic institutions such as Harvard have empowered residents to rebuild their community after the floods of Hurricane Katrina.
These three success stories provide inspiration for other communities that are currently facing real economic challenges. “Partnerships” and “collaboration” were key words during the session – as nearly everyone agreed that smart initiatives between businesses and nonprofits are enabling communities to work towards economic recovery. ...
This past weekend many people turned their attention to the Gulf Coast, where recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina still take place daily.
While signs of progress are everywhere, according to one Associated Press article, only about 75% of the pre-Katrina population has returned to New Orleans, the city that was 80% underwater at this time four years ago. In the immensely-affected, mostly low-income Lower 9th Ward, less than 20% of the pre-Katrina population has returned.
One New Orleans-based company is still helping out with community renewal and recovery. On Friday, I spoke with Patty Riddlebarger, director of corporate social responsibility for Entergy Corporation.
Thousands of local families have not yet returned to New Orleans, at least partially because, for many residents, huge gaps exist between the actual costs of rebuilding their homes and the funds received from federal/state assistance and/or insurance settlements. Entergy has partnered with two nonprofit organizations to provide financial help to families wanting to return.
The first group, the...
Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and three recent posts acknowlege that there is plenty to celebrate, as the communities devastated by that storm continue their process of recovery and renewal.
For starters, this morning BCLC published a guest post by Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. (GNO), a business and economic development organizations in New Orleans. Hecht’s post, “Setting the Table: Economic Development in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” shares recent successes which GNO and other local officials believe will help move forward economically the greater New Orleans area.
An August 13th piece by BCLC’s Mark D’Alessio covers the recovery impact of the Hancock County (MS) Chamber of Commerce, whose executive director, Tish Williams, has pushed the community toward building back better with hurricane-strength determination. Hancock County was completely devastated by the storm — I visited Tish in 2006 — but the community receives far less attention than New Orleans. For more on Hancock County’s recovery,...
By Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc.
Working in New York City in the years after 9/11, I learned a basic lesson about economic development. The attacks left the city in financial ruin, $4 billion in the red. Yet, four years later, NYC was experiencing its biggest building boom in decades. Why? Because of specific public policies that then encouraged private investment. Watching this, I learned: the most efficient thing economic developers can do is to “set the table”- and then let the markets work.
This is why I am so excited about the outcome of the recent Louisiana legislative session. While it was a tumultuous few weeks, when the smoke cleared, pro-business, pro-community bills did remarkably well, bills that now set the table for a potential feast of wealth creation for the Greater New Orleans community.
First and foremost is HB 106 (Hunter Greene) – elimination of capital gains tax from the sale of a private business. It used to be that when you sold your business in Louisiana, you were hit with a 6% bill. So, many people, and their companies, left before they sold. The result has been years of wealth – and brain – drain to neighboring states, like Texas. HB 106 fixes this unintended consequence, immediately levels the playing field, and gives Louisiana a new recruiting tool.
Then, there is SB 277 (Ann Duplessis) – up to a 35% tax credit for the production of digital media. What earlier...
By: Kate Loovis
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit Harlem with the head of U.S. Community Partnerships for GlaxoSmithKline, Bill Shore, and the Director of 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, Jennifer Burke Labriola.
Together, we met with the Executive Director of the Children’s Health Fund, Karen Redlener, and her talented staff, who provide free health care for thousands of children in disadvantaged communities across the country. I was able to tour one of their fleet of top-of-the-line mobile health units that bring quality health care directly to the communities without access.
It’s through partnerships with companies like GSK that make this critical and high-...
This morning, BCLC Executive Director Stephen Jordan appeared on the show “Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins,” on NPR affiliate station WFAE. Jordan was accompanied by guest Ruth Kinzey, founder of the Kinzey Company.
Listen Now >>
The one-hour show focused on corporate social responsbility. Host Mike Collins inquired about the business case for operating in a way that focuses on ethical standards, self-regulation, and sustainability, and inquired whether CSR detracts bottom-line role of the business.
Jordan not only set the record straight on the history and value of CSR in general, he and Kinzey both shared specific examples of what individual companies to express their values, support their communities, and operate with integrity.
Development, Diplomacy and Defense, the three pillars for smart power.
We heard Secretary Clinton introduce the three D’s for the Administration’s foreign policy agenda at her confirmation hearing on January 13.
As we STILL wait for public sector leaders to be named, specifically an Administrator for USAID and CEO for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the private sector has continued to push forward on development agendas and projects even in this tough economic climate.
I don’t think anyone can deny the role the private sector plays in international development; it’s huge. Companies are not just giving to, but investing in communities, producers, and people all over the world.
We, as a development community, have moved forward on a public-private partnership agenda for the past few years and agencies within the U.S. government have adapted to this change. The Global Development Alliance at USAID is designed to work with companies on joint projects. MCC, in theory, designs compacts to incentivize companies to invest in the compact countries. And the State Department, which has recently made the biggest push in PPPs, recently named Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley as special representative for global partnerships.
These internal re-organizations, or agency creations in the case of the MCC, have proven to bridge the gap between sectors, but we have just touched the surface on the work we can do together. ...
Today the Office Depot Foundation, led by President Mary Wong, donated 1,225 backpacks containing essential school supplies and $1,225 to a foundation created by an 11-year-old boy.
Young philanthropist Zach Bonner founded the Little Red Wagon Foundation — at the age of seven — in order to raise awareness about the plight of the 1.3 million homeless children in the United States and to spur action to solve the problem. Zach’s tactic was to walk … for three years and across 1,225 miles.
The Office Depot Foundation’s donations represent the 1,225 miles that Zach walked from his home in Tampa, Florida, to the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, where he arrived this morning.
“Zach is an inspiration to children, adults and, really, to our entire nation,” said Wong.
Hundreds of local D.C. children from the Sasha Bruce Youthwork joined Zach this morning for the last one mile of his walk, from Lafayette Park near the White House to the Capitol. Volunteers from the Office Depot Foundation, Office Depot, and BCLC provided backpacks in Lafayette Park to the kids who arrived to help Zach complete his journey. The Sasha Bruce Youthwork, an organization for at-risk children and their families in D.C., also received $1,225 and 1,225 backpacks from the Office Depot Foundation.
Next summer, Zach plans to walk from his home in Florida to California — and the new pair of sneakers that Wong gave him today will certainly be put to good use. Wong says the...
3rd post in a series (see one and two) on our journey to create ARAMARK Building Community, the company’s signature community initiative to strength the capacity of the country’s local community centers.
With firm guideposts in place and a decision made on the issues we wanted to address, we started on partner identification. We searched for organizations that would be most aligned with ARAMARK’s social issue priorities and goals.
Our research revealed that there are essential, yet under-recognized and under resourced places in nearly every city where individuals and families go every day for help on a wide variety of needs. Local independent community centers, also known as “neighborhood centers” or “settlement houses,” address some of the nation’s toughest challenges, especially during difficult economic times. Whether it is providing food to the hungry, emergency shelter to families that have lost their homes, job training to people looking for better opportunities, or clothing for those fallen on hard times, these centers work to improve their local communities and offer much-needed help to their neighbors.
Like many of our clients, community centers often operate and manage large buildings, prepare meals,...
6th and final post in the series (posts one, two, three, four, five) on our journey to create ARAMARK Building Community, the company’s signature community initiative to strength the capacity of the country’s local community centers.
Here are a few of the lessons we learned on our journey to create and execute ARAMARK Building Community:
Lesson #1: Assemble the team. Build a small group with diverse attributes and perspectives that includes strategists, communicators, “sales” people, process managers, company loyalists, and newbies, from both inside and outside the company. Anticipate change and evolve this team deliberately as platforms and programs evolve.
Lesson #2: Involve a range of internal stakeholders in the development process. ...