A 2011 Staples Community Involvement Perception Survey found a low level of awareness and engagement with the company's strategic charitable initiatives and mission focus on education and career-skills development.
In response, the Board of Directors of Staples Foundation, our private charitable arm, established a unique giving program called 2 Million & Change. The program allows Staples associates around the world to help direct more than $2 million in grant funding each year to charities focused on education or job skills they personally support. The program was designed to engage associates in the giving process and reward them for their personal community involvement. In the U.S., the program incorporates elements of both 'dollars for doers' and 'matching gifts' giving models by awarding more to organizations where associates are giving their time and personal donations.
This was the first time in Staples, Inc. and Staples Foundation's history all part-time and full-time associates around the world helped choose which charities received all of the Foundation's annual grant funding and formally supported their local community efforts. This unique, yet simple, giving approach for a corporate foundation ignited associate engagement and local community impact.
The 2 Million & Change program pilot was launched in 2012:
2 Million & Change was so successful in its first year, with over 800 U.S. nominations submitted and 23% international participation, the Staples Foundation Board of Directors established it as their signature giving program. Starting in 2013, the U.S. program is offered year-round and grants are awarded to organizations every month.
Thousands of 2 Million & Change nominations each year include personal stories of how associates are making a difference in their communities. Some have given countless volunteer hours to support their charity through board service, mentoring, or fundraising. A few have even been founding members of the nominated charity itself. Staples Foundation established the 2 Million & Change Community Hero award to recognize four U.S. associates each year who are highly involved with their charity. Associates across the company collectively vote internally on a winner each quarter. An additional grant is awarded to the winner's organization.
To further support community involvement, the Community team established Staples service events with the purpose of introducing and engaging associates in easy on-site volunteer opportunities. The Cradles to Crayons Backpack-A-Thon, Staples Heart Walk, and United Way Day of Action have all become annual service events which continue to grow each year in associate participation and impact in the community. The 2 Million & Change program is highlighted during each event to encourage additional support for the partner charities and drive further awareness of the program.
The 2 Million & Change program continues to have significant success year over year:
The program's greatest impact has been seen from the local charities the grants support. In 2016, grant funding assisted 690,000 individuals through programs, such as after-school tutoring, youth entrepreneurship, skills development for people with disabilities, mentoring, job training for veterans, scholarships, and more. The response from organizations has been tremendous – not only are the grant dollars helping to expand their services, they have a local Staples associate as their champion.
Staples Foundation's 2 Million & Change program encourages our associates to give back to their communities and make a difference by being local heroes. The program's impact is best reflected in their words:
"It's amazing to know that Staples cares about the community and the causes that matter most to their associates. Not many businesses invest in the community or their associates like Staples." Terri Payne, Training Specialist, TN
"Staples Foundation's 2 Million & Change program is an opportunity for everyone to be a hero in their community." Nikki Faith, HR Business Consultant, PA
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