Softchoice Cares is an employee-inspired and employee-driven philanthropic program that reaches across borders to show our caring in a very tangible way. Our approach allows our employees to make a difference here in our own back yard, across North America and international borders - with a focus on "bridging the digital divide".
We believe in equal access to education and knowledge through technology! We believe technology is the means for a better world and a powerful tool in creating positive change. We're guided by the belief that when we align our charitable giving and volunteer efforts with our purpose as a company, our impact becomes exponentially greater in helping thousands of people develop the skills and means for a brighter future.
Since inception, Softchoice Cares has raised more than $1 million to enhance opportunities for education and personal advancement so that people of all walks can achieve their potential. By participating in activities to raise money or volunteering their time to support these efforts, our employees are helping ensure people from all walks of life can achieve their potential.
Since its early days, Softchoice employees have always participated in giving back to their local communities through support to various charities across North America. However, in December of 2004, a devastating tsunami struck South East Asia. Following the catastrophe a few employees decided to raise money to support the massive relief effort. Their example caused a chain reaction company-wide, as employees pitched in to contribute and raise funds.
Realizing the impact by focusing our efforts around a central need, the formation of our first Softchoice Cares employee-led board occurred in 2006. The board is comprised entirely of employees who volunteer their time outside of the normal course of business. Guided by our people and a clear focus on fostering sustainable change through technology, Softchoice Cares delivers on the promise of sharing our success, creativity & compassion with those less fortunate in our own communities & around the world.
Today, it's the hundreds of Softchoice employees, partners, customers and friends and family who are really the driving force behind Cares and the many fundraising activities across North America. In addition to their dedication and creativity to supporting events and volunteer days, our people also donate generously through voluntary payroll deductions. All of the funds raised go towards supporting our philanthropic efforts!
By providing access to technology for those less fortunate in our own communities and around the world, we’re giving thousands of people the tools and means for a better life.
National Leadership: POWER UP technology grants for schools in need
Technology has the potential to transform student learning, especially for students who lack the same access and opportunities as their more affluent peers. POWER UP technology grants create 21st century learning opportunities for
elementary school children in underserved communities across North America
Read more here.
Local Impact: Power 2 the People
Power 2 the People gives Softchoice employees across North America the chance to raise money and awareness for the causes they feel most passionate about.
Read more here.
Each term, the Softchoice Cares Board embarks on an International Volunteer Experience to build computer labs in underprivileged communities around the world.
Read more here.
Schools across North America are struggling to improve access to technology in the classroom, relying heavily on parent fundraising to bridge funding gaps. This places schools in low-income neighborhoods at a particular disadvantage, since low-income families – who are already less likely to have a computer or internet access at home – cannot contribute as much to technology initiatives as more affluent neighborhoods.
On December 1, 2016, Softchoice and Lenovo awarded $10,000 in classroom technology grants to seven elementary and middle schools from Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto and Montreal.
Stay in touch! Please visit the POWER UP program page and register to be the first to hear about our 2017 POWER UP grants.
Through our Power to the People program, we challenged employees to identify and support charities that were using technology to improved lives. This program gives employees in local branches, across North America, the chance to raise money and awareness for the causes they feel most passionate about. Our employees find and nominate local charities that are using technology to make our communities better. Employees get involved in everything from championing a cause, volunteering for the cause and organizing or participating in fundraising events. All funds raised receive fund matching by Softchoice Cares! Add to that, the top three performing charities also receive additional funding at the end of the P2P program period. Employees may also use their volunteer hours to support these and other organizations across North America!
Where are some areas P2P has made a big impact?
Since P2P was launched in 2012 we have raised more than $150k for over 25 charities across the USA, Canada and even Honduras!
Every day our people engage with like-minded community leaders and not-for-profit organizations to help further computer literacy and access to technology. In working together, the difference we make becomes exponentially greater. Some other organizations we've supported:
"Softchoice volunteers have supported Parkdale Project Read through tutoring, small group facilitation and as members of our Board of Directors. Over the course of our partnership, Softchoice has provided our agency with $45,000 in technology and software to upgrade our computer lab. Softchoice recognizes the growing need for learners to become technologically literate. This partnership has proven to be a huge value-added experience for all involved."
Parkdale Project Board of Directors
"Softchoice Cares has truly pioneered a unique and comprehensive engagement model that empowers its employees to become change makers through volunteering, in-kind and cash donations that have benefitted the our foundation."
Chris Cooper, Director of Development TA
Granted support for Sick Kids' AboutKidsHealth educational resource site's content system upgrade to support their move to a more mobile-friendly and interactive website. This funding will also help them with their long-term strategy of the site becoming a more robust and accessible, child health education tool to be used by family members and physicians before, during and after the child's hospital visit.
Helped Kids' Health Links enhance the medical experiences of young patients in Canadian children's hospitals through technology programs that keep them connected with family, friends and school community.
Softchoice Cares funds a variety of projects and causes aimed at furthering computer literacy and providing access to technology to those in need in our local communities and around the world. Over the years we've partnered with One Laptop per Child, Developing World Connections, the Technology Access Foundation as well as Habitat for Humanity. Through Project Connect we're supplying new computers and internet access in newly built Habitat for Humanity homes. Project Connect also gives our people the opportunity to volunteer locally by educating participating families on the use and set up of these computers.
Softchoice Cares overseas missions offer powerful, life-changing experiences for our people. Through a variety of different projects Softchoice employees have helped some of the world's most impoverished communities lay the foundations for a better future. The money raised through annual fundraising is used to support these projects directly while the missions themselves, including travel and room and board expenses are funded entirely by Softchoice, partner sponsorships, and participating board members.
In the middle of the Softchoice Cares Board's term, the team embarks on an International Volunteer Experience to help bridge the digital divide, building computer labs in underprivileged communities around the world. Softchoice believes that getting new PCs into the hands of those who need them most will create significant opportunities to enhance education, further skills training and ultimately improve prospects for future employment.
The Softchoice Cares employees bring passion, skills in education and information technology and strong teamwork to the projects.
Developing World Connections
Wayne McRann, President, Developing World Connections
To support our local, national and international initiatives, we couldn’t do it without the hundreds of events run by employees across North America! Through a variety of activities – from curling and golf tournaments, to yard sales, trivia nights, raffles and more – our fundraising activities foster team work and camaraderie across the Softchoice community. At the end of the day, it's about making a difference in our world. But having fun and connecting with peers beyond the normal course of business has been just as important in making Softchoice Cares a lynchpin in the culture of our company. Here are just a few of the ways we put the 'fun' in fundraising:
Giving back to the communities we serve is engrained in the Softchoice culture. Beyond the activities of the company’s employee-led philanthropic initiative, Softchoice Cares, all Softchoice employees are offered two paid volunteer days a year to give back to their communities in support of any cause near and dear to their hearts. Some organizations supported include CAMH, Toronto Foodshare; Year Up and Marra Farms in Seattle, to name just a few.
Located in downtown LA's "Skid Row," the Weingart Center offers care and support to homeless men and women. One of the ways they do this is by hosting interview classes to help clients move forward with job placements. The last stage of these classes is a mock interview, and that's where Softchoice came in. A group of eight Softchoice employees led interviews with the candidates, scored each interview, and then provided in-person positive and focused feedback to help them improve their interview skills and build confidence.
When Softchoice's Sales Operations team heard about the volunteering opportunities at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, they knew they wanted to get involved. CAMH offers multiple corporate volunteer programs, one of which involves playing sports with the clients. After running through scenarios of what some of the clients experience on a daily basis, the Softchoice team saw first-hand how the simple act of playing basketball can alleviate some of the clients' symptoms and help them feel part of a community.
In true Softchoice fashion, two common elements often emerge. One, many groups or departments take their volunteer days together, creating a rewarding team building experience. And two, it brings out a healthy a spirit of competition between departments and offices across North America – motivating them to go big, give back, and have some fun while doing it!
Keep up to date on Softchoice's team Orange Day pictures on Softchoice Cares Facebook page!
Softchoice Cares is led by a board of 16 employee volunteers. We believe this is a unique approach to corporate philanthropy and one that has been highly effective in encouraging employees from across the company to get involved in fundraising efforts.
Duties depend on the role they select and all members are expected to devote time outside of their day to day responsibilities to further the Softchoice Cares mission. The board draws employees from all areas of the company and from across the United States and Canada. The board has regular biweekly conference calls to manage Softchoice Cares initiatives and provide guidance and oversight.