Category: Philanthropy

Oct 14 2020

A $25K Matching Gift To Boost Entrepreneurship in Kansas City Through Storytelling

Today, Amy and I are announcing a matching gift from our Anchor Point Foundation to the Startland News’ Give A Start donor campaign. We will match any contributions from this point forward, up to $25,000.

Since 2015, Startland News has helped Kansas City entrepreneurs shout their triumphs from the rooftops — a critical piece of storytelling as the local startup community evolves beyond good ideas written on napkins to the home of powerhouse startups and nine-figure exits.

Startland News is part of Startland, formerly the Kansas City Startup Foundation, and is a community-building 501(c)3 nonprofit activating a thriving and inclusive culture of innovation in Kansas City through stories, experiences, and talent.

A thriving startup community also explores its failures, the ongoing challenges plaguing entrepreneurs, and how innovators not only can learn from them but also accelerate past the roadblocks to success. Startland News has been unafraid to identify and confront these issues and grow along with its ecosystem. When the nonprofit newsroom recognized the economic and racial inequity represented in its coverage of mainstream entrepreneurs, it expanded the scope of stories to include more innovators from outside the world of high-growth, high-tech startups and actively opened its platform for the voices of diverse risk-takers, creatives, makers, and small businesses.

While the Covid crisis has been eating up the headlines in 2020, nearly half of the year’s more than 360 Startland News stories have featured underserved or underestimated entrepreneurs — all while the digital publication continues to focus on the city’s latest tech and startup developments.

Equity in startup communities will be a concern for years to come. Still, the solution begins with tangible action to increase access to entrepreneurship and the support and resources that abound in a healthy ecosystem.

In The Startup Community Way, Ian and I discuss storytelling as a factor that helps shape outcomes and included a sidebar on the Startland News story as an example for other startup communities worldwide. Pairing storytelling with diversity only makes that rooftop shouting more clear and compelling.

While I no longer have a house in Kansas City, I have a deep affection for the city, as it has played an important role in my own entrepreneurial journey, starting with a major software project in the early 1990s for a client of Feld Technologies and accelerating with monthly trips in 1994 to work with The Kauffman Foundation on various projects. 

Like many non-profit (and for-profit) organizations, 2020 has been a challenging year. Join me in helping Startland News give a start to more innovators in the Kansas City area.

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May 5 2020

GivingTuesdayNow – Colorado COVID Relief Fund

If you have a job, have been working from home, and haven’t been spending extra money on Starbucks (or local) coffee, lunch or dinner out, or other random things you spend money on during the day while at work, please consider making a donation to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund today. All contributions made today up to $250,000 will be matched by an anonymous donor.

GivingTuesday usually happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Amy and I have been involved in Boulder for many years, going back to the first year when the yellow Culture of Giving squeezy balls were part of the campaign.

This year it’s happening today. Globally.

The Covid crisis has created unprecedented stress and devastation on many people. The Governor’s Colorado COVID Relief Fund is raising and allocating funds based on prevention, impact, and recovery needs of community-based organizations in Colorado.

  • Children from families living on low income who are impacted by school or childcare closures
  • Communities of color
  • Healthcare, hospitality, service industry and gig economy workers
  • Immigrant and refugee communities
  • Minimum or low-wage employees displaced by business closures
  • Older adults living on low income
  • People who are immuno-compromised or medically fragile
  • People with limited English proficiency
  • People with disabilities
  • People without health insurance
  • Victims of domestic violence or child abuse
  • People living on low income
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Tribal governments
  • Workers without access to paid sick leave

To date, the fund has allocated $8.4 million to 371 organizations serving all 64 counties in Colorado.

We’ve all been working from home for the past 30 days (so, about 20 work days). Contemplate what your random out of pocket spending on food (coffee, snacks) is during the work day. $3? $5? $10? $20?

Consider contributing a day, a week (* 5), or a month (* 20) of whatever that number is to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund. Whatever number you contribute will be multiplied by 2 in the match.

Coloradans helping Coloradans. Because that’s what we do.

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Mar 17 2020

Providing Frontline Support to Boulder County Caregivers

As the world shifts underneath us around Covid-19, Amy and I have focused our immediate philanthropic efforts on our local community in Boulder County.

If you have the ability to contribute anything philanthropically, helping locally will make a huge difference right now. While many of us are hunkered down at home, we’ve got numerous frontline providers at hospitals and in the community out in public helping us all get through this.

Amy and I made two matching gifts in Boulder County. Note that we are focusing on “Boulder County”, not just “the City of Boulder” right now as many of the people who serve us in the city of Boulder live in the surrounding towns that make up Boulder County.

The first gift is to BCH for the Boulder Community Health Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund. They have identified two priorities.

  1. BCH People: Assist BCH staff who are facing unanticipated financial challenges (e.g., needing child care due to the closing of schools, financial hardship from a spouse/partner being out of work, etc.). BCH will provide the assistance they need by significantly expanding the depth and breadth of support provided by the BCH Employee Assistance Fund.
  2. Remove any barriers to providing the best treatment for COVID–19. Support BCH’s significant investment in their testing capability, expanding telehealth access, and planning for an increase in cases, including supply management, space capacity, and flex training for our staff and physicians.

The other gift is to the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County for the Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund Boulder County. This fund will ensure essential services for community members who find themselves at the intersection of being most vulnerable to the virus and most impacted by inequity. It will focus on continuing access to care, food, hygiene, shelter, housing, and other services for the most vulnerable.

If you have any financial giving capacity of any amount, please consider a gift to either the Boulder Community Health Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund or the Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund Boulder County. Your support today will make a difference right now.

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Dec 5 2019

Help a Denver Food Bank Stay in their Home

If you have an office in Denver, just five miles away from you is a food bank operating out of a warehouse month to month just so it can help anyone who comes through their doors.

Community Ministry of Southwest Denver has provided food, children’s clothing, school supplies, energy assistance, food boxes, and holiday gifts for young children for over fifty years. Nice.

But, the building and land that Community Ministry has leased for decades is up for sale.

To avoid losing their location, they are raising $800,000 which would cover the cost of the building, parking lot, closing costs, and some much-needed renovations.

They are a little over $600,000 on their way to $800,000 of their fundraising campaign. Every bit helps, so instead of buying a coffee at Starbucks (or your favorite coffee shop) today, consider making a donation to them. Any amount helps.

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Nov 6 2019

Looking for Mentors for Entrepreneurs for All – Longmont, Colorado

Earlier this year Amy and I, along with a number of other local friends, supported the rollout of a new organization in Longmont called Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll).

EforAll is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities nationwide to help under-resourced individuals pursue their dream of starting a business. They believe everyone should have the opportunity, resources, and support they need to successfully start their business. Its programs include a free, full-year Business Accelerator that utilizes a cohort model and includes intensive business training and mentorship as well as quarterly community pitch contests.

Since I first wrote about their launch, EforAll Longmont has hosted two pitch contests featuring over 50 entrepreneurs. To get a feel for the activity, take a look at the article about Lorne Jenkins after he won the top prize at one of the pitch competitions.

EforAll Longmont is accepting applications for its first Accelerator program which will start in early January. To help these entrepreneurs, EforAll is looking for experienced professionals across a wide range of industries to serve as mentors for these entrepreneurs. I’ve written extensively about the importance of effective mentorship and one of the things that I love the most about EforAll is their mentorship model.

After spending time with a few EforAll entrepreneurs, I came away excited by their ideas and aspirations. What they need now are mentors who can serve as their champion, coach, and support network as they navigate the challenges of starting their own business.

If you are an entrepreneur or business leader living near Longmont, Colorado, especially in an adjacent town like Boulder, and you are interested in becoming a mentor for EforAll, please reach out to Harris Rollinger, the Executive Director of EforAll Longmont or volunteer online to become a mentor.

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Jul 10 2019

Pledge 1% Today

Over the years, I’ve written about my belief in the importance of giving back to your communities and #givefirst. In this spirit, one of the key organizations my partners at Foundry Group have helped create and nurture is Pledge 1%.

In 2007, we were a founding member in the predecessor organization to Pledge 1%, called Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (or EFCO). EFCO started as an experiment here in Boulder, not unlike Techstars and Startup Week/Weekend that got their start in our backyard. In 2014, Pledge1% Global launched as a joint effort between Foundry Group, The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, The Salesforce Foundation and The Atlassian Foundation which we helped seed financially and continue to support.

Pledge 1% Colorado has now distributed over $8 million back to various organizations in our community. And, the companies that have pledged 1% globally is remarkable.

While all of the Foundry Group partners have been involved, Seth Levine has been spearheading our engagement and the transformation from EFCO to Pledge 1% (he, along with key members of the teams from Salesforce, Atlassian and Ryan Martens are the founders of Pledge 1%). At a partner offsite at the end of last year, we were reflecting on some of the gifts from Foundry Group through our Pledge 1% involvement, which included:

We had some extra money left in our Pledge 1% Colorado account from distributions over 2018 and decided that, rather than saving it up for another larger gift, we’d give a series of modest gifts to a handful of local (and one non-local but nearby) organizations as a surprise holiday gift. Those organizations were:

If you are a co-founder at a startup, leading a company, or an employee at a company and want to learn more, check out the Pledge1% (or here if you’re in Colorado). Or email me or Micah Mador if you want to get involved.

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May 21 2019

CSbyAll: An Interactive, Crowdsourced Timeline of the CS Education and Diversity in Tech Movement

The modern computer science education movement, commonly referred to as Computer Science for All or #CSforALL, has been gaining momentum nationwide since 2004 and is poised to be the most significant upgrade to the US education system in history.

History is recorded and codified through the journalism, social media, and public policy, and tends to emphasize the voices of those already in the public eye. Moreover, we know that media frequently amplifies the loudest voice in the room, and often misses the contributions of those without social capital and power, including women and minorities. Recent films like Hidden Figures and The Computers show this phenomenon by documenting the lost history of women’s contributions to engineering and technology fields.

Unfortunately, reporting on the Computer Science for All movement is already showing evidence of the erasure and dismissal of the contributions of educators, and in particular women and minorities.

On March 3, 2019, 60 Minutes ran a segment on increasing girls’ participation in computer science that excluded the contributions of all of the women-led organizations working to increase girls’ involvement in tech. The segment credited Code.org with solving the problem “once and for all,” sparking nationwide outrage and pushback from community stakeholders including Girls Who Code, littleBits, AnitaB.org, NCWIT, and CSforALL.

Even more damaging, the 60 Minutes piece incorrectly claimed that the number of women majoring in computer science has declined. The number of women receiving undergraduate degrees in computer science has quadrupled since 2009 thanks to efforts of organizations like the National Center for Women & Information Technology, CSTA, and AnitaB.org, as well as investments by the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many others over the past decade.

I was excited to watch the 60 Minutes piece and wrote a quick blog post titled littleBits Is Helping To Close The Gender Gap in Technology with a teaser about it. I then watched the whole episode and was incredibly upset. I fumed for a while and then emotionally supported several women, including Ayah Bdeir, littleBits CEO, who wrote An Insider’s Look at Why Women End Up on the Cutting Room Floor.

I wrote a draft of a blog post but realized that it wasn’t additive to the discussion. I was mad at 60 Minutes, felt incredibly frustrated, and was sad for all the women who were once again marginalized by the way things were portrayed.

I’ve been living in this problem since 2004 when I joined the board of a nascent organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). I’ve learned an incredible amount about gender issues in technology – and in general – from working alongside Lucy Sanders and her wonderful organization since then. I’ve tried to be the living embodiment of a male advocate (now commonly referred to as a male ally) and, while I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, have been on a learning journey that has made me a much better human.

When Ruthe Farmer, the Chief Evangelist for CSforALL (and formerly of NCWIT) reached out to me about helping with a new project called CSbyALL, I immediately said yes. Amy and I have been supporters of CSforAll for several years and count a number of the board members as friends, especially Fred and Joanne Wilson who helped get CSforAll up and running.

Amy and I, along with Fred and Joanne, are proud to be the first contributors to this new project to document the actual history of the modern computer science education movement. CSbyALL will be a crowd-sourced interactive timeline and data visualization tool that will surface and illuminate the collective stories, artifacts, and events from the distributed CS education community. It will recognize the contributions of not only national leaders and policymakers, but also local advocates like teachers and school administrators, out-of-school time educators, local organizations, and researchers.

If you are interested in supporting this effort or getting involved in any way, drop me an email.

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May 15 2019

New Story and 3D Printed Homes

In July 2015, I wrote about New Story asking readers to crowdfund one $6k house for a family in Haiti. At the time, Brett was only a few months into building New Story and had built less than twenty total homes. They were young and inexperienced but had a strong conviction to do things differently as a nonprofit which appealed to me.

In the past four years, New Story has funded over 2,200 homes, building 17 communities for over 11,000 people across Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. They started out by chasing one crazy idea, and have grown nearly 100x since my original post.

They have now come up with a unique model for scaling their impact. There are over a billion people living without safe shelter. The need for safe housing is as staggering as the lack of solutions to meet the need — one traditional home at a time will never scale to the size of the problem. To even begin imagining a solution, New Story had to change their strategy.

In the past two years, they have shifted their primary focus from funding and building their own communities to pioneering solutions for the entire global social housing sector to use. The strategy is to create innovative solutions, prove their value in New Story’s work, and then share everything with others in the social housing sector.

In 2018, New Story partnered with ICON and developed the first 3D printer of homes designed to serve the families who need shelter most. This is a breakthrough technology that will cut costs, increase speed, and improve home design quality. New Story is on track to begin creating the world’s first 3D printed community of 50+ homes this summer in Latin America.

In addition to 3D printing communities, New Story created a SaaS team to help other organizations working to end global homelessness become more transparent and efficient. They’ll be sharing the tools they’ve created, including everything around 3D printing, while continuing to develop new breakthroughs.

The magic for creating this innovation-focused model has been New Stories private group of donors, the Builders. This group of about fifty families partners with New Story to fund their operating expenses and give them the license to take calculated risks through new R&D projects. In addition to me and Amy, my partner Seth Levine and his wife Greeley Sachs are members of the Builders program.

In Summer 2019, New Story is offering vision trips to see the world’s first 3D printed community. For families interested in learning more about the Builders program, email Brett Hagler.

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May 13 2019

Funding 394 Classrooms in Colorado on Donors Choose

In December, Amy and I (through our Anchor Point Foundation) committed a matching gift to fund All Colorado First Time DonorsChoose.org Projects.

At the time there were 108 projects that fit the profile. Our hope was that our match would fund these projects, encourage more teachers to put their projects up on DonorsChoose.org, and get more new donors involved.

We ended up funding 394 projects, helping 40,404 students, 246 schools, and 380 teachers in Colorado.

At the time, we didn’t announce the size of our matching gift, but it was $100,000. So, through Donorschoose.org we’ve helped fund $200,000 of direct purchases for classrooms in Colorado.

Thank you to everyone who supported these teachers. We love supporting Donorschoose.org because the projects are initiated by teachers who know what they need in their classroom to best serve their students’ educational needs.

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Apr 23 2019

Physical Space in Boulder for the Media Archaeology Lab

Amy and I are big supporters of the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL). I love the idea of a computer museum and believe Boulder deserves to have a large one.

We’ve donated our computer collection to it, which includes my original Apple ][, my first portable computer (a Compaq luggable), an Apple III, an Apple Lisa, my original Mac 128K, a MITS Altair 8800b, a NeXTstation, and a bunch of other random stuff. Recently, my dad pitched in and contributed his entire cell phone and PDA collection, which included every cell phone he ever had.

MAL is located on the edge of the CU Boulder campus in a small building that they have outgrown. They have new space coming online in 2022, but until then they are looking for some additional space for both display and assembly purposes.

The display space needs to be near downtown Boulder or walking distance to the CU Boulder campus. This will be an extension of the existing public MAL space and, in the best case scenario, could actually be publicly accessible space. Worst case, it would be reservation-only space. Ideally, this would be anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet.

The assembly space can be further from downtown and can be warehouse style space. MAL currently has over 50% of its existing space consumed with physical equipment that needs to be cleaned, staged, and assembled. One of the magical things about MAL is that all the computers on display are fully functioning, which means there are a lot of mice, keyboards, and disk drives as backup parts for when things inevitably go bad.

While MAL doesn’t have any money to pay for the space, I expect we can arrange things so that the space is a charitable donation.

If you have some extra space, ideas for space, or old computer stuff you’d like to donate, drop me an email.

And, if you want to contribute financially to support MAL, we’ve set up the Anchor Point Fund for MAL (Media Archaeology Lab) at CU Boulder.

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