RizePoint shows how one company can make a real difference in the community
Like many executives, RizePoint CEO Frank Maylett wanted to engrain community service into his company’s mission and culture. Giving back to the community was something Maylett believed in personally, and he was committed to making service part of RizePoint’s core.
“Every quarter, we’d take a full day to do service. We’d choose different charities and spend a full day as a company doing things like working at the food bank, United Way or on a sustainable farm,” he says.
But Maylett wanted to do more—he wanted to find an area in which his company could truly make a difference. “Early on, I recognized that one way we could really help the community was to get tactically involved in education.”
With a renewed focus on education, RizePoint went to work. Beyond traditional efforts, such has holding back-to-school supply drives or collecting donations, the company “adopted” a Title 1 school, which meant working one-on-one with a specific school. Its hyper-focused goal became a rewarding experience for executives, employees, teachers and students alike.
Once RizePoint determined its education focus, the company began by simply picking up the phone and calling school districts to gauge interest. Canyons School District was the first to jump on the opportunity. “We met with them and began talking about how we could help. It was an eye-opening experience to learn about their needs,” says Maylett.
RizePoint began by sponsoring scholarships for fifth and 10th grade students that would pay for STEM summer camps in subjects like astronomy, biology and robotics. Last year, the company sent 25 kids to camps and held a rewards ceremony to honor their achievements.
“I was surprised by the number of applicants that came in, and many had heart-wrenching stories,” Maylett says. “We had applicants that were immigrants that without the scholarship would have no opportunity to go. There were some who had single moms working two or three jobs. One applicant wanted to go to biology camp because her dad was dying of cancer and she wanted to be a doctor to help people like her dad. When you read the applications, it just rips your heart out.”
After sponsoring the STEM camp scholarships Maylett and RizePoint employees were hooked—they wanted to double-down on their efforts to help the students. The company met again with Canyons School District to brainstorm ways to become even more involved. That’s when Maylett made the decision to “adopt” a Title 1 school. After meeting with the principal and learning about the school’s specific needs, RizePoint employees went to work.
From providing back-to-school items, like backpacks and school supplies, to gathering classroom items that teachers often buy, like chap-sticks and tissues, RizePoint employees began supporting “their” students. The company organized a sub-for-Santa program, as well as provided Christmas for several refugee families. Beyond providing supplies and gifts, employees volunteered inside the school, participated in science fairs, read to the children and spent time tutoring students.
“It’s been a very rewarding and enriching experience for our employees, on a very micro level, they’re really helping these kids,” says Maylett.
ABCs of giving
Getting involved in the community can be easy, says Maylett. He offers the following advice to get started:
A. Find a cause. Is there an issue that your company and employees are particularly passionate about? Is there a need in your community that you can fulfill? Maylett advises executives find a specific cause to focus on.
B. Dedicate an employee. Key to making any project work is dedicating an employee to seeing it through to the end. Maylett says the same is true for community outreach projects. “You’ve got to find somebody within your business to own the whole initiative.”
C. Dedicate resources. Once you have an employee overseeing the project, provide him or her with adequate resources, including a budget and personnel time.
D. Find an opportunity. “We started by picking up the phone and calling school districts. It’s really that easy,” says Maylett. “All you need to say is, ‘Hey, I have resources, people, money and I want to help.’”
E. Go out and do it. Whether your company dedicates a day of service on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis, the most important part is to commit time—yours and your employees’—to serve.
What goes around…
Adopting a Title 1 school has been rewarding for Maylett and RizePoint employees. But beyond warm fuzzies, Maylett’s noticed that employees are happier and more productive. He’s also noticed that the company is having an easier time recruiting new employees.
“We have about 75 employees, so paying their salaries and benefits for days that they’re not working can be seen as an expense, but the return is 10 times the value,” he says. “The employees feel that the company understands them. Being part of the community and donating time makes our company a special pace to work. If other companies don’t see the value that this brings, they’re crazy—there’s a distinct ROI. In today’s workforce, people want to work for companies that have a mission. When we poll our employees and ask them, ‘What is the one thing you love about working at RizePoint?’ the majority will call out our STEM scholarships and service projects. They like being part of the community.”
Maylett has learned that one company can truly make a difference. “There are people out there with real needs and they walk among us, but they don’t carry signs that say, ‘We don’t have money for food or education.’ They live their lives in the shadows. When companies and people open their eyes to opportunities to help, they’ll be shocked at how much need there is in our community. The more companies that get involved, the better off we all will be.”