Blackbaud’s Innovative Global After School Program Supports Its Working Caregivers
Employees Volunteer Their Time and Expertise to Help One Another
Blackbaud, the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, recently launched the Blackbaud After School Program to support employees globally who are balancing work and child care in the remote world of COVID-19. With a focus on virtual well-being, the company developed the volunteer-based program to enable Blackbaud employees to share their skills and hobbies with the children of their colleagues, providing learning and entertainment for Blackbaud families and allowing working caregivers time to step away and focus on other tasks.
“With everything that’s happening in our world this year, it’s important for all of us to lean in to help each other,” said Margaret “Maggie” Driscoll, Chief People Officer, Blackbaud. “We are continually looking for ways to support employees, and we saw an opportunity to create the Blackbaud After School Program to bring people together, to provide some reprieve for our working caregivers, and to continue strengthening our Blackbaud culture in a virtual world.”
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The Blackbaud After School Program includes live sessions led by employee volunteers, in addition to recordings and free resources that can be accessed at any time, globally, for employees and their families across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Costa Rica. Sessions run from 20 to 50 minutes and cover a variety of topics, including arts and crafts, music, beginner coding, reading aloud, cooking tutorials, science experiments, yoga, games and more. Employees can also sign up as live one-on-one tutors to share their knowledge and expertise to help their colleagues’ children with their schoolwork.
Blackbaud commissioned customers to get involved in the program as well, providing virtual business for these organizations. The South Carolina Aquarium hosted a virtual field trip, while San Antonio Zoo provided a wild animal meet-and-greet education program. Children’s Theatre Company, located in Minnesota, led a sensory storytime session for imaginative play that focused on social-emotional learning, sequencing and literacy skills.
Sarah Simpson, senior manager, software development at Blackbaud, said that the After School Program has been a gift during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My daughter loves the program, and it has made me feel so much better about how she spends some of her downtime at home,” Simpson said. “Without siblings or playdates during the pandemic, this program provided a way for her to connect with other kids her age and enjoy socializing and learning at the same time. I’m so grateful!”
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With change being the only constant this year, Blackbaud is looking to rethink change and turn it into opportunity and impact. The Blackbaud After School Program is one example of how the company is giving back to employees and how employees are giving back to each other. Because all forms of generosity are important, especially now, Blackbaud employees who lead or record sessions for the After School Program are being given up to five hours a month to volunteer during working hours. Employees volunteering time outside of working hours can earn paid time off through Blackbaud’s Volunteer for Vacation program.
Alex Mendiola, Blackbaud software instructor and former public-school teacher, volunteered to lead several After School Program sessions in arts and crafts. “My plan was to continue serving students this year by volunteering with local schools, but with COVID-19 that was no longer an option,” said Mendiola. “When the opportunity arose to volunteer with the Blackbaud After School Program, I jumped at the chance to help. I love making things and sharing that passion with kids, and seeing the students come together to support each other in each session and offer suggestions for success was so rewarding for me and a great example for all of us.”
Since the program launched in mid-September, Blackbaud volunteers and participants have logged 380 hours of time together in 115 live sessions, 14 of which have been run by Blackbaud customers. Employee volunteers have demonstrated strong interest in sharing their expertise and skills, including members of Blackbaud’s executive leadership team who also led sessions. The company plans to expand opportunities for employee skills-based volunteering in 2021.