Month: December 2016

Matt Smith, Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good, Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Matt Smith, Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good program, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

matt-smith-qd4x3pDenver: When we get to this time of year, I always look to do a segment about food. So I looked around in search of a good story… for someone who is really making a difference in getting healthy and nutritious food to those in need, and doing so on a consistent basis. And I found my answer when I came across PepsiCo’s “Food for Good” program. And it’s a pleasure to have with us tonight, the Director of that program, Matt Smith. Good evening, Matt, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Matt: Thank you for having me.

Food for Good is a purpose-driven initiative within PepsiCo that tries to use our expertise as a company to fight hunger in communities across the United States.

Denver: Give us a brief overview of Food for Good and what the objectives of the program are.

Matt: Thank you, first of all, for having me and for this platform that you do here with The Business of Giving– to give an opportunity to hear from others and learn from others about how they’re trying to do good. I think business has a huge role in doing that and trying to solve problems in our communities.  And that’s what we’re trying to do with Food for Good.  Food for Good is a purpose-driven initiative within PepsiCo that tries to use our expertise as a company to fight hunger in communities across the United States.

Denver: And this started back in 2009. How did it come into being?

Matt: It started with a group of employees that looked to take our company’s “Performance with Purpose” vision and really start with” Purpose.”  And we said, “How can we start by trying to address real needs in our communities, but create the business to address those needs?” We wanted it to be something that could generate revenue, cover our operating costs, and continue to scale indefinitely. So we started by sitting around conference room tables in community centers with a number of community leaders and asking them that question – “What would it look like if PepsiCo tried to partner together with you to address the needs in your community?”

Performance with Purpose is essentially saying that it’s important for us to understand as a company that we are stewards of the work that we get to do, and it’s not just about the money that we make. We have a responsibility to make money as a company, but it’s how we make the money.

Denver: And you just said PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” vision. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Matt: Sure. Performance with Purpose is essentially saying that it’s important for us to understand as a company that we are stewards of the work that we get to do, and it’s not just about the money that we make. We have a responsibility to make money as a company, but it’s how we make the money.

We have three platforms at Performance with Purpose: the products that we make, our impact on the planet, and empowering people. A lot of the work that we’re doing with Food for Good really falls on that product side of making sure that we are helping to create healthy products for everyone, but also making sure, in particular, to get healthy food to the underserved.

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Jocelyn Wyatt, Co-Lead and Executive Director of IDEO.org, Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Jocelyn Wyatt, Co-Lead and Executive Director of IDEO.org, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

 

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Denver: For many people, the Number 1 company that is synonymous with human-centered design is IDEO, founded in Palo Alto back in 1991. One of their claims to fame was the design of the first mouse for the Apple Computer. And then in 2011, they launched a sister organization, a nonprofit called IDEO.org. Their mission? Human-centered design to help alleviate poverty. And with us tonight is their Co-Lead and Executive Director, Jocelyn Wyatt. Good evening, Jocelyn, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Jocelyn: Thanks so much for having me.

Denver: Give us an overview of IDEO.org and what the organization does.

Jocelyn: IDEO.org is a five-year-old nonprofit organization and, as you mentioned, we really started because we believed that there was a real opportunity to apply human-centered design to poverty-related challenges. We work with partners in the US and internationally to really help them improve the programs, services, or products that they’re delivering– that ultimately go to improve the lives of people in low-income communities.

Human-centered design is an approach to creative problem solving. It’s really a way that we go about understanding people and their needs, and designing solutions with them.

Denver: And before we get too deep into the conversation, what exactly is human-centered design?

Jocelyn: Human-centered design is an approach to creative problem solving. It’s really a way that we go about understanding people and their needs, and designing solutions with them. So human-centered design really starts with spending time with people and their contacts in their homes or workplaces, goes through a process of creative ideation– coming up with lots of new solutions, prototyping those solutions, and ultimately working with the partners to bring those solutions to market.

Denver: When most people think of human-centered design, I think they immediately think of products. And whereas you do some work in products, that’s only a relatively modest part of your portfolio. What’s the rest of it?

Jocelyn: Yes. So in addition to products, we design a lot of services. These could be financial service products, like loan products or savings products. We design communications campaigns; these would relate to behavior change around something like reproductive health or handwashing.  We do work on designing businesses, which could be a water delivery business or a sanitation business. We do work on designing programs which, again, could be a health program or a program to provide farmers with loans. So, really, lots of different types of intangible design, as well as the more tangible design work.

Denver: Let’s go into a  bit about how you go about this work, and you touched on it some. One of the things you mentioned was “in-context observation.”  What exactly is that?

Jocelyn: “In-context observation” is about going and seeing people where they are. A lot of qualitative research happens in observation rooms, in conference rooms, or in offices which feel very inhumane and bit boring in a sense.  It’s really hard to pick up on any external cues in that type of setting. It generally makes people feel more nervous. So, instead, at IDEO.org, what we do is go to people where they are. We meet them in their homes, and we talk to them in their living rooms. We make observations about what’s surrounding them, and we get to meet their family members. Or we’ll spend time with people in their workplaces or with farmers on their farms. We go to them so that we can both talk to them, and in conversation really learn a lot, but also through observation, learn a lot from what’s surrounding them and the people that are around them as well.

Analogous research is about looking to other, analogous examples for inspiration– to bring that inspiration into the question at hand.

Denver: Great. Another part of this process is analogous research. Tell us what that is and give us some examples, if you could.

Jocelyn: Sure. Analogous research is about looking to other, analogous examples for inspiration– to bring that inspiration into the question at hand. One example from the work that IDEO has done that’s classic is when IDEO was working to design the operating room for a hospital; they went out and spent time observing a NASCAR race pit crew to really see how  that pit crew coordinates. How did they act quickly in a really stressful situation? What could they learn?

On the IDEO.org side, we took that example of analogous inspiration on a sanitation project that we were doing in Ghana. We went to a boat supply store to look at how toilets were installed in boats. What different toilet options were in boats, because we had really significant space constraints? And we were also looking for a similar type of cartridge model for a toilet. So we got inspiration from the marine industry that we brought into the sanitation industry.

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Sherrie Westin of Sesame Workshop Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

abwqpowoDenver: With more Emmys and Grammys than any other children’s television show, and as the first nonprofit to reach 1 billion YouTube views, Sesame Workshop has become an American institution. And now with the show airing in some 150 countries around the world, it has become a global one as well. There’s been a lot happening over at Sesame Street in the last year or two, and we’re so very fortunate to have been able to pry away from Sesame Workshop their Executive Vice President for Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sherrie Westin. Good evening, Sherrie, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Sherrie: Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.

Denver: There’s a tendency for all of us to take Sesame Street for granted. It has produced such great content for such a long time. But tell us how it first came into being some 47 years ago.  And what is it, at its heart, that informs and inspires the work that you do?

Sherrie: You are right. People love Sesame Street, but I think they often do not know the depth and breadth of our work. Sesame Street started in 1969, and this was part of the war on poverty. If you think back to the late ’60s, the Johnson administration, and Joan Ganz Cooney had the idea–and you have to understand this is a radical idea at the time– that possibly you could use the much maligned medium of television to teach. She and her colleagues set out to not only see if you could reach children with educational content that could make a difference in preparing them for school.  But also, could you specifically reach those children who may have less advantages in not being at a quality preschool, and get some of those advantages that upper middle class children had by arriving at kindergarten ready to learn?  So, it was quite a departure from what we thought of as children’s television in the day, and the best part is that it was a huge success.

Sesame Workshop is a 501(c)(3), always has been.

Denver: One of the big changes you’ve undergone in the last year or so was that Sesame Street was shown exclusively on PBS for about four-and-a-half decades, and now it’s first aired on HBO with those episodes then shown on PBS, starting nine months later. There was a little bit of concern when this was first announced. But tell us, how has that gone?

Sherrie: The thing you have to understand is it was always critically important to us that we stay on PBS. That’s been our home for almost 50 years, and it’s how we reach every child in the United States. But what most people don’t understand is Sesame Workshop is a 501(c)(3), always has been. When I talked about Joan starting in 1969, it was through grants from the Department of Education, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation. We struggle to make sure that we have the funds needed to continue to produce this incredible educational content. And quite frankly, HBO gave us an opportunity to fund that production– which was not an easy thing to do– and to provide the content free to PBS. So it’s really a win-win when you look at it that way.

The early years are where you can make the biggest difference in terms of a child’s trajectory.

Denver: Yes, it certainly is. I think people have to understand you have to be pragmatic to be able to scale and continue this work, and that’s what you’ve done… and very intelligently so. I’m no expert at early childhood development, but we’ve had a couple of shows on it, so I’ve learned a lot.  It just seems that the benefits of it are so proven and are so dramatic!  We’re recouping up to $17 for every dollar we invest.  Yet only about 4% of our educational budget and budget around childhood development goes to that 0-5 years of age. Why is that the case? And what can be done about it?

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The Business of Giving Visits the Offices of DonorsChoose

This evening we get to visit one of the most engaging and energizing places that I have had the pleasure to step into. Those of the offices of DonorsChoose which are up at West 37th street here at New York City. Their mission is to make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for great education. Earlier this year, we had their President and CEO, Charles Best on the show, and I asked him about the corporate culture of DonorsChoose. We’ll start with him and then hear from those who work there as to why it is such a special place.

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Transcript

Charles: If you came to our office — which I hope you will. We’re 30 blocks uptown from where we’re doing this interview. You’d walk into an office that I hope you would feel like a cross between a schoolhouse and a start-up. Our office is totally open and you see the physical materials that teachers are requesting through our site and people are all sitting at big tables. And I hope that you would feel that you had walked into an organization with a very flat non-hierarchical structure, but one that is nevertheless able to be decisive and agile. And you’d find the people who are there because of the mission, because we want to fight educational inequity, but I hope you’d find people who are every bit as data-savvy and performance-minded and user-focused as you would at any for-profit start-up.

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Julia: Our executive team is really comfortable and honest with each other. So it sets an example for the rest of us and they’re also able to help us key in to what we might be missing; about how to work with a technical person or a marketing person or a partnership person. So that level of trust they have really is something that we rely on and I think allows us to be successful in our work and our collaboration.

Melanie: As an HR person, I’m thinking about retention all the time. And last year we asked people on our survey why they stay and I wanted them to say, “The leadership team is the best.” Well, that was number two. The reason that was number one is for each other, our staff feels incredibly connected to the people who work here. They’re connected to the people on their team, the people across the organization. They’re curious and they care about each other; that makes a tremendous difference.8dc48180-d3fd-4ed6-9220-328b99ac4e38_1

Julia: As a manager, I would say that the thing I most appreciate about DonorsChoose that I think is unlike some other nonprofits is that we have an understanding and a respect for what it means to be a manager and building that time into our jobs. So you’re not a manager on top of a fleet of a 100% full of work and productive things that you have to do. As a manager, one of the elements of DonorsChoose and how we’re structured is that we respect the fact that managing, setting goals, giving feedback and spending time on performance reviews or something that’s critical to growth and critical to the success of our company. And because of that, we insure that our jobs are developed in a way that there is time set aside for managing and not just doing work.

 

James: One thing I think is really powerful at DonorsChoose.org is this ability to give and receive feedback from any of your peers at any level. I think that it’s one of the few places where my intern can actually offer feedback to me in a way where I actually understand it, translate it, digest it and then put it to work. And I actually want to empower her to keep doing that, while at the same time I can have a conversation at lunch with our CEO and offer that same type of candid feedback.

Melanie: So, there’s accountability here, but it’s not accountability that’s driven from the top down. It’s personal accountability and that means that the bar can be incredibly high without people feeling like we’re taking advantage of them.

Orly: DonorsChoose.org does such a great job of embracing curiosity and I think that really sets it apart, not only as a nonprofit but as a place to work in general. And this takes a lot of different shapes. For example, we have such an emphasis on data and looking at our data and holding ourselves accountable with that data. When you walk into the office one of the first things you’ll see is a dashboard with all the important metrics that we’re using to measure our success. We get emails sent every week on our team telling us what we’re excelling at, looking at the numbers and seeing patterns and finding trends of how we can do better, and where there is room for improvement and where we’re excelling.

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Liam: I think one thing that I love most about working here at DonorsChoose.org is our focus on our end user. And so every person… every team it focuses on a different end user whether that’s teachers, donors, our vendors or our partners and specifically to my job, our volunteers. But every decision we make goes into thinking about that end user and how they’ll be impacted. It’s really unique and something that we don’t really focus on, how it impacts us before we think about how it impacts the user.

Saul: We communicate a lot and we don’t just communicate about work. We’re just always open and talking about what makes us individuals. And I’ve never honestly worked anywhere where I know so much about my colleagues and where it’s encouraged to be your weird self and I love that about DonorsChoose.org.

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Julia: One way that DonorsChoose sort of seeds interaction between staff members that I think then leads to very real respect for the work that we do, is we leverage a platform called You Earned It. And it is essentially an internal tool that we use to give compliments to each other when something’s not, so that might be a simple as: I saw you refill the coffee on behalf of the whole office and I am going to tag you and thank you for demonstrating your value of teamwork and flexibility. And what this does is public; everyone can see it.

James: So one thing that I think is really cool is that our core values do spell out this “rough it” which you’ll hear us kind of talk about around the office. But where I find the most emphasis is like when you see someone having that “rough” day, actually and that’s like its own value in itself. Because this entire organization is very much in tune with how people are feeling and like what may be going on both in the office and out of the office. And coming from like a Irish Catholic family, I’m not used to people asking me how I feel…

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Melanie: So one of the unofficial things we’re looking for– it’s not on the wall in our main conference room directly, it’s at the bottom– is our three unofficial values of humility, integrity and fun. And of those, the H is a key one, humility. Well, how do you assess that? That could be our CEO cleaning up confetti on the floor after a birthday party; true story. But in the hiring process we’re asking things like, “How do you handle a day to day task that may not be that fulfilling? How do you get around that? Tell me about the time you to take on work that you didn’t really enjoy. How did you do that? Tell me about a real tough time managing your workload where you need to pitch in and may be it was unfair. How did that happen?” And we’re trying to assess for someone who really wants to be a teammate; who doesn’t want to necessarily just shine all the time, because sometimes it’s about putting people out in front. And so that helps us find a team that’s willing to work together or there’s not a lot of competition, and we’re all on the same side.

Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

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Denver: In a world that can appear quite dark as we obsess about a range of societal problems in a never-ending sea of bad news, it is like a cylinder of light moving across that sea to speak with someone who is consumed with solutions… and what’s working. My next guest is dedicated to just that through her New York Times column “Fixes,”  her highly acclaimed book Join the Club, and most recently as a co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network. She is Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist, Tina Rosenberg. Good evening, Tina, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Tina: Thank you, Denver. Nice to be here.

Solutions journalism is a way of also looking at who is trying to solve problems, and what results they’re getting.

Denver: “Solutions journalism” is a term that may not be familiar to a lot of our listeners. How would you describe it for them?

Tina: Well, we would say that solutions journalism is expanding what journalists think of as our beat. Traditionally, journalists imagine that our job is to cover what’s wrong with the world. Our model of how we think of change is: we uncover stuff that’s wrong, and then someone comes in and solves the problem. So, we don’t feel that’s been working very well. Solutions journalism is a way of also looking at who is trying to solve problems, and what results they’re getting. The key is that this coverage has to be done not as fluff, or as advocacy, or as PR, but with equal rigor–the same rigor that we use when we cover the problems themselves.

Denver: Is this a new concept, Tina?  Or, is this just a new term… with the rigor that you just talked about for this kind of reporting? (more…)

Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability, Joins Denver Frederick

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The following is a conversation between Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

Denver: Researchers tell us that among the most important characteristics that a person must possess in order to be successful in any pursuit are passion and grit. My next guest has both of those, in abundance. She is Carol Glazer, the President of the National Organization on Disability. Good evening, Carol, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Carol: Hello. It’s nice to see you, Denver.

Denver: Tell us about the National Organization on Disability, the mission and purpose of the organization, and where you place your particular focus to assist those with disabilities.

Carol: Sure. Thank you, Denver. We’ve been around for 34 years. When disability was just a thought… and the fact of equality for people with disabilities was still a thought, we were created as one of two so-called “cross-disability organizations” nationally. Very few disability organizations address all Americans with disabilities; we do.  The number is about 57 million today.

Denver: Wow.

Carol: That’s about one out of every five Americans. We were formed to ensure the full participation of all of those people in all aspects of American life. Over the 34 years, so much has changed about disability. NOD as an organization has changed and addressed whatever issue was dominant for the time, primarily from an advocacy orientation – it’s about changing public opinion.

Today, we are exclusively about employment. It’s the single biggest barrier to a good quality of life affecting working-aged Americans with disabilities. There’s only about 20% employment rate among those 30 million Americans who are working age, and we devote ourselves exclusively to try to change that number.

Denver: Well, that is refreshing to hear. I love organizations with focus, and so many of them out there try to be everything to everybody and really don’t make any kind of an impact. This kind of focus is going to let you dig deep and really change some things. So, let me ask you this, Carol. When you speak of disability, what exactly does that mean? How broad or narrow is that definition?

Carol: It’s a definition that was first placed into law in 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and later amended in 2008 with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). That Amendment Act said that “a disability is defined as one or more physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities.” That’s a very big group, and there’s a three-prong definition – either you have a disability or you had disability at one time, or you are presumed to have a disability. So that third bar is a higher bar to reach than perhaps any of the other definitions of disability, and it’s part of the reason that that number – 57 million Americans – is as large as it is.

Denver: Looking at that 57 million Americans– and the 30 million who are of working age, what kind of discrimination do they face? What kinds of limitations are placed on them living as full and productive lives as they possibly could? (more…)