Ideas That Matter Alumni Busier Than Ever With World-Changing Projects
Since its inception in 1999, Sappi’s Ideas that Matter (ITM) program has granted nearly $14 million to help fund a wide range of social impact causes ranging from sustainable food systems to healthcare to climate change. Although the pandemic put much of the world on pause, Sappi’s ITM recipients were busier than ever with their world-changing projects. We were not surprised to watch how this community continues to adapt in the face of so much uncertainty.
826LA and 826 National students use poetry to demand social justice
Ideas that Matter grant recipients have included both 826 National and its Los Angeles chapter, 826LA, in recent years. The national organization is the largest youth writing network in the country with nine chapters serving nearly 40,000 under-resourced students ages 6–18 each year. Whether it’s the March for Our Lives, the Youth Climate Strike, or Black Lives Matter, young people are at the front lines of combating injustice and changing the world. In this spirit, 826 National recently solicited youth poetry from its nine chapters and worked with 826CHI, 826LA, and 826 Valencia to edit the resulting compilation, titled Poets in Revolt! The talented student voices in the publication explore themes including body positivity, institutional racism, religious freedom, sexual identity, bicultural identity, the climate crisis, gun violence, and education inequality. Poets in Revolt! began as a workshop led by writer Ola Faleti at 826CHI, during which students drew meaningful connections between poetry and social justice.
Studio Usher secures internet access for 5 million remote students
In 2013, Naomi Usher, principal of design firm Studio Usher, received an ITM grant to develop communication materials in print, digital, and motion for EducationSuperHighway—an organization that provides advocacy and consultation to states and school districts to connect American public school classrooms to high-speed internet. The organization brought broadband to 99 percent of all K–12 public schools and was slated to shut down in April 2020 after accomplishing their mission. Then, in the face of COVID-19, with 55 million K–12 students sheltering in place and schools moving their classrooms online, this dynamic organization hired back most of their staff to focus on connecting the 5 million US students who do not have access to the internet at home.
Brighter Bites delivers healthy options to food-insecure families
In 2018, Allyson Lack, founder and creative director of design studio Principle, received an ITM grant to design and produce a cookbook for stakeholders of Houston-based nonprofit Brighter Bites. Since its inception in 2012, Brighter Bites has provided nutrition education and more than 27 million pounds of fresh produce to over 275,000 people in cities across the country. They work with public schools and community centers to assemble and distribute fresh produce and materials to families in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal resources are limited, families need fresh, nutrient-rich food to keep them healthy. When their partner schools closed, Brighter Bites quickly shifted gears to deliver produce through a variety of programs and networks, including local food banks, produce distributors, and partnerships with regional grocery chains.
MASS Design Group supports hospitals with COVID-19 Design Response team
Hospitals around the world are rapidly transforming their physical environments and systems to keep employees and patients safe. MASS Design Group— composed of full-time senior design leaders including ITM grantees Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, and Amie Shao—has formed a COVID-19 Design Response team to support these efforts. Drawing on their valuable insights from lessons learned in the field, this team responds to the needs of hospital and community healthcare partners by sharing strategies and rules of thumb with those retrofitting different spaces for infection control. The COVID-19 Design Response team has partnered with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Boston-based Ariadne Labs and conducted a three-week study to understand which spatial design interventions can help mitigate the risk of infection. As the team members share their conclusions, they hope to scale the research and collaboration between healthcare staff and designers to encourage thoughtful spatial interventions and literacy with COVID-19 units nationwide.
2020 Employee Ideas that Matter program brings charitable ideas to life
Through the structured Employee Ideas that Matter (EITM) program, Sappi North America employees bring their charitable ideas to life. For three years, employees have been applying for direct funding to benefit the nonprofit organizations they are most passionate about, and the winners share $25,000 in corporate giving to support their selected causes. Funding can be used in many ways—from financing a project to sponsoring a trail cleanup or providing new equipment and supplies. In 2020, Sappi received applications for worthy causes from around the country. The competition was tough, but in the end, 101 were selected.
Read more from Sappi North america's 2020 Sustainability Report here.