Over half the company volunteered for community service events during MLK Week.
One of CBI’s 2018 Resolutions is to get better involved in our local community, and our first-ever Volunteer Week was an awesome way to start.
We planned four volunteering events from January 16-19 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Employees could sign up for any event of their choice, and there was a ton of interest: Over half the company participated and 96% of our volunteers said they’d do it again every quarter.
We always listen to the data, so we plan on making that happen: January’s Volunteer Week kicked off CB Insights’ new Culture of Service initiative, which will provide quarterly opportunities for the team to get involved with meaningful causes.
We’re thrilled with how the first Volunteer Week went. Here’s a peek into the fun* of each day’s activities.
Day 1, Jan. 16: STEM Kids NYC After-School Program
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is one of CB Insights’ favorite causes, for obvious reasons: Our business wouldn’t exist without the hard work of data scientists, software engineers, and “techies” across the company.
We paid our STEM knowledge forward to kick off Volunteer Week: STEM Kids NYC welcomed fifteen CBIers to P.S. 76A Phillip Randolph School in Harlem, where they helped a classroom of elementary-school students conquer a “Shark Tank” style tech challenge.
The students were grouped into teams to develop ideas capable of solving real-life problems in their communities. After brainstorming what to build, they created prototypes of their inventions — with CBI staffers supervising the process.
Each group “demoed” a project at day’s end, and the results were impressive.
“It was amazing to see the kids make their ideas a reality using household objects,” said Alex Parayannilam, Software Engineer.
“My group of students made a prototype vending machine out of just a cardboard box, a ruler, and some tape. The sheer amount of creativity in that classroom was astounding!”
Alex and other CBI volunteers found it rewarding to help make science and math concepts more accessible to students. And that’s what STEM Kids NYC is all about: The 501(c)(3) organization provides year-round programs to supplement citywide public-school curricula with hands-on STEM education.
Day 2, Jan. 17: Read-A-Thon at Stanley M. Isaacs Center
More than twenty CBIers went offsite Wednesday to keep the community service going. Our next stop was The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, where we helped a group of students grades 3-8 improve their reading and comprehension skills.
The afternoon was extra special because we weren’t just reading books to kids — it was a competition: Each employee paired up with a youngster to complete a “bingo board” with a different literacy challenge on each square. (We even made up team names.)
The challenges varied from simple to more complex: One was to find a book with an animal as the main character; another tasked the students with reading five pages of a story and summarizing what happened.
The activities were eye-opening, because we saw real learning in action.
“I worked with an 8 year old named Miley, and one of her exercises was to read a snippet of a book and draw a picture of what she thought would happen next,” said Juliana Barrett, Customer Success Manager.
“I loved seeing the wheels turning as she read aloud, stumbled over (and then learned) new words like ‘chaos,’ and decided how to draw her ideas for the next chapter.”
Connecting with the kids over books was a blast, and we bonded fast! The Isaacs Center encouraged us to come back soon: The non-profit center is always in need of volunteers to help with its many programs that serve low-income families, out-of-school or out-of-work youth, and aging New Yorkers.
Day 3, Jan. 18: Employment Mentoring with AHRC-NYC
Our last offsite event on Thursday was a unique opportunity to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities get better prepared for the workforce.
A dozen CBI volunteers visited the Library of Business, Industry, and Science, where AHRC-NYC matched them with mentees one-on-one for an afternoon of resume building, job hunting, and mock interviews. (AHRC offers a wide range of programs, services, and support for people with developmental disabilities.)
The activities helped our mentees understand how their skills could benefit employers, and learn how to seek out job opportunities online.
“Anthony had experience in maintenance and cleaning work, and was excited to find a new job helping to clean parks and buildings,” said Zoe Leavitt, Senior Intelligence Analyst.
“It was a lot of fun to chat and hear about his work experience (and discover we had the same favorite TV shows!) as we got his goals down on paper.”
For CBI’s People Ops team members – including Menaka Chang (Director of People Ops) and Mandy Dobler (People Ops Coordinator) – the event was also a chance to apply their “people expertise” in a new way.
In that sense, the afternoon was a professional development opportunity just as much as a volunteer one.
Day 4, Jan. 19: Making Lunch for The Bowery Mission
We ended Volunteer Week by helping feed New York City’s homeless: More than 50 team members played chef in the CB Insights kitchen to prepare peanut-butter & jelly sandwiches (and trail-mix snack bags) that were delivered to the Bowery Mission.
The Bowery Mission — which has been providing help and hope to NYC’s homeless since 1879 — then distributed the lunch bags to local men, women, and children in need.
Packing up sandwiches on a Friday afternoon made us feel like kids again, and it really brought us together as a unit. We do a lot of in-house engagement to encourage collaboration across departments, and this was laid-back way to get people talking and connecting … all in service to a very worthy cause.
“It was a fun way to close out the week! I got to give back to the surrounding community while getting to know my co-workers on other teams,” said Ja Lee, Intelligence Analyst.
“I’m looking forward to doing this again. Volunteering events will be a great way to meet new members of CBI as the company keeps growing.”
The selflessness of our team was on full display as we closed out a great week: We made over 600 sandwiches and lunch bags, and lots of folks pitched in to help with supplies, drop-off, and clean-up.
A Week (and Culture) of Service
Humility and helpfulness are in our DNA, and Volunteer Week showed us just how good it feels to share those values beyond our office walls.
And it’s important to CBI employees that we do that: For some of our volunteers, the week’s programs provided a way to combine their work in the tech industry with their personal passion for giving back.
“I was involved in many volunteer projects and service trips throughout college, and I aim to keep satisfying that call to serve throughout my work life and career,” said Rob Thomas, Product Specialist.
“It’s really fulfilling to work for an organization that allows me the opportunity to regularly continue that mission.”
Working with great partners made all the difference. STEM Kids NYC, the Isaacs Center, AHRC-NYC, and the Bowery Mission were all highly appreciative of the support, and made it simple for us to get involved. We’re glad we could make them proud!
“We got great feedback from our community partners on how well the week’s events went, and we’re thrilled our efforts had an impact,” said Mandy Dobler, People Ops Coordinator.
“I’m honored so many CBIers went out of their way to participate, and I can’t wait to see our volunteer engagement keep growing!”
*Fun activities at CB Insights are not mandatory, but they are quantified: 90% of Volunteer Week participants said they had fun, honest.
If you’d like to join a company committed to a Culture of Service, check out our open positions.