“Commitment is the ignitor of momentum” - Peggy Wood, American actress.
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges: although there is great need for volunteering, doing so safely requires extra precautions. True to our mission, to help is human, we are committed to our community. We are beyond proud of our team of Discovians for figuring out how we can safely support our community. We created a new formula, new ways of ensuring needs of the community were being met, and new ways of connecting our people with people in need.
During the first quarter, 118 Discovians participated in a DISCO Cares event, logging over 180 volunteer hours and providing over $49,000 in overall contributions to our community. This doesn’t happen without a team — and at DISCO, we have the A-Team!
I want to take a moment to recognize a few members of our A-Team.
A-Team: Anu, Josh, Ravi, and Jud
Since our inception three and a half years ago, we have been helping both the Central Texas Food Bank and the Houston Food Bank reduce food insecurity in their respective communities. This year, we have already provided over 18,000 meals to those in need, while also donating the food and beverages from our office.
With safety protocols in place, we returned to the Food Bank in December Josh Pujol, Ravi Nulu, and Jud Hermans have been at every monthly volunteer opportunity — that's commitment. Anu Saha has been bringing his daughter to volunteer to teach the importance of giving back. DISCO Cares has a lasting impression on our employees — two DISCO alumni, Stephen Mace and Michael Whited, volunteered with us at the food bank and continue to support our community service efforts.
"Volunteering at the Central Texas Food Bank has been a great experience! I’ve come to learn some things about the important services this organization provides to aid food insecurity in the greater community. There are a variety of different kinds of tasks you can do, so the work has been fun and engaging. I’ll be looking forward to the next upcoming volunteer shifts at the food bank for sure. Thanks for facilitating this opportunity for employees at DISCO!"
- Ravi Nulu, Data Operations Analyst
Bridging the technology gap
A-Team: Brandon, Jerry Joe, Greg, Susan, Garon, Brandon, and Adam
In addition to donating our time and talent, we also provide technology to help bridge the digital gap of underserved communities by providing equipment to help Austin families without a computer for education and workforce placement.
We donated 55 Macbooks and PCs to four of our partners: Code2College, Austin Urban Technology Movement, The Refuge, and The Safe Alliance. Our Discovians also donated personal devices including six monitors, five laptops and two desktops.
A big thank you to Greg Russell, Jerry Joe Benson, Brandon Mayes, Adam Lunceford, and Susan Stuehrk for their donations, to Garon Goodspeed for helping with inventory, and to Brandon Robinson in IT for wiping and securing all devices so they are ready for use by their new owners.
"Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTM) greatly appreciates the support from DISCO and their DISCO Cares Program. Instead of telling us what we needed, they listened, mobilized, and acted. Without companies like DISCO being engaged in Black and Hispanic communities, it would be impossible to increase workforce development in the tech industry and expand digital equity across the state of Texas. Thank you DISCO Cares for being the example of an effective and impactful partnership."
- Michael Ward Jr, President & CEO of AUTM
A-Team: Cara, Rachel, Sarah, Wes, Brooke, and Mackenzie
One of the pillars of DISCO Cares is empowering the next generation of leaders — as evidenced in our amazing partnerships with Code2College and Start-Up Kids Club. This quarter, we commenced a new partnership with Girls Empowerment Network, which has the mission to “ignite the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable.” A big thank you to Cara Marchese, Rachel Morris, and Sarah Van Leeuwen leading our inaugural event during Women’s History Month — decorating “Spark Kit” boxes for our next generation of female leaders. Additional thanks to Wes Bellomy, Brooke Kimbrell, and Mackenzie Cook for spending the morning volunteering with our fellow Discovians!
"I’m so glad DISCO was able to host a social volunteering event during Women’s History Month that benefited the Girls Empowerment Network. I look forward to building an ongoing partnership between our two organizations and empowering the next generation of women with belief in their personal power and ability to succeed at anything."
- Cara Marchese, Senior Product Designer
Discovians planting a new root with Rooted in Melanin
A-Team: Josh, Cara, and Ravi
COVID-19 and this recent winter storm took a toll on our new partner, Rooted in Melanin (RIM). Founded in the spring of 2020, RIM’s mission is to provide Austin-area BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) with the resources, tools, and community necessary to build healthier, more sustainable lives. Phase one of our partnership was to clean up their community gardens, located at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard. Our team consisting of Josh Pujol, Cara Marchese, and Ravi Nulu worked with volunteers from the Moody Center to fill up a 20 cubic yard dumpster of debris to get the gardens ready for harvest.
(For those of you in Austin, Kenny Dorham’s backyard is a true hidden gem. It is definitely worth checking out on a weekend. In addition to the community gardens, there are food trucks, an outdoor live music venue and beautiful murals throughout.)
“The Rooted in Melanin Initiative is excited to partner with DISCO Cares to improve community spaces we use for our garden projects. These spaces provide our group with an area to cultivate food for the community and focus on educating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) groups and individuals about agriculture and food cultivation. Kenny Dorham’s Backyard is an amazing place to reconnect with food as we learn and learn. This partnership will allow us to continue to make this space special for everyone."
- Lisa Boyd, Founder of Rooted in Melanin
A-Team: Kiwi and Eric
In February, we commenced our partnership with Health Code. Health Code’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives free of preventable diseases. At our 2021 Kickoff, DISCO CEO Kiwi Camara suggested we all take time off from technology to get outside and focus on daily self-care. Kiwi himself is hiking five miles a day!
With the help of data operations manager and ultra marathon runner Eric Gloris, we began our partnership with Health Code to provide a way for our employees to prioritize their health and wellness. In two months, 46 Discovians logged 6,581 miles, burned 390,503 calories and spent 50,597 minutes on their health.
Overall, this quarter, we began seven new community partnerships to help families in need and to support our next generation of leaders. We are excited to learn and grow with them — please check out these amazing organizations!
- Rooted in Melanin
- Girls Empowerment Network
- Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTM)
- The SAFE Alliance
- The Refuge
- Legal Prep Charter Academy
Our wish for 2021 is to see more companies deploy resources to social impact, CSR, or add a philanthropic arm to their organization. As always, we’re happy to provide insights on what we find and what we have learned over the last three years — reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to chat!