Corporate Community Relations Consortium Talks Sustainable Development Goals

Last month, the Corporate Responsibility team at Silicon Valley Community Foundation had the distinct pleasure of hosting the bi-monthly Corporate Community Relations Consortium (“CCRC”, a group of local corporate responsibility/philanthropy practitioners) meeting. Based on many informal conversations that have bubbled up in the corporate responsibility community since the official launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, our goal was to facilitate a discussion about how businesses can integrate the SDGs into their programs. 
Joining us from Medtronic (a medical device company with operational headquarters in Minnesota), Jennifer Chavez Rubio shared about IMPACT2030, a global private sector led collaboration to mobilize employee volunteers to advance the achievement of the SDGs. The collaborative (of which Medtronic is a founding partner) has developed the Global Goals Employer Hub, which offers businesses information on how to engage, educate and inspire their employees on how they can contribute to the SDGs. Jennifer also offered ideas on capturing data on your company’s existing volunteer efforts, such as working with your employee engagement vendor (in Medtronic’s case, YourCause) to develop tools to track volunteer hours associated with specific SDGs. 
In addition to volunteer efforts, there are other ways in which companies can engage with and further the SDGs. Lisa Kuhn of Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) shared stories of impact from the international development field. She also highlighted several unique opportunities for companies to engage in sustainable development, such as FSD’s Corporate Giving Circles. This opportunity allows companies to participate directly in the international development project they wish to sponsor, either from their corporate offices or from within the community abroad, and enables employees to connect with the project on a deeper level. 
After learning about opportunities to support work on the SDGs from an international development perspective, we also took a look at how we can bring the goals home by focusing on issues right here in Silicon Valley. Our very own Avo Makdessian, Director of SVCF’s Center for Early Learning, highlighted several local challenges that are especially relevant to the SDGs, as well as related initiatives that are already in place to work toward the goals. Avo shared that in Silicon Valley, over 16,000 low-income children (birth through 4 years old) have no access to childcare or preschool, which is directly related to SDG # 4, “Quality Education”. While there are numerous organizations tackling this issue in Silicon Valley, Avo highlighted The Big Lift, which focuses on four key program elements: High Quality Preschool, Inspiring Summers, Family Engagement and Attendance. This was a great reminder that opportunities to support the SDGs can be found far and wide, from international communities to our home cities. 
With the help of these subject matter experts, and after robust discussion with our CCRC colleagues, one thing became clear: the Sustainable Development Goals are BIG goals, but we shouldn’t be intimidated by them. In some way, most of (if not all) our companies are already doing something to further the goals whether we know it or not. While we heard about large, international development programs that we can leverage, we also heard about making small adjustments to our current programs to track the work that’s already being done. We were reminded that the SDGs apply to communities of all shapes and sizes, with plenty of work to be done right here in our own communities. As we progress through the lifespan of this set of goals, we look forward to continuing the discussion in our community. 
A big ‘thank you’ goes out to our guest speakers and CCRC colleagues for contributing to a fruitful discussion!  
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