Service Learning Pi: A Recipe for Giving from the VMware Foundation
The VMware Foundation takes a unique approach to philanthropy. Instead of choosing to support a discrete set of issues through traditional grantmaking, it focuses on inspiring VMware employees to take action. The VMware Foundation empowers employees to identify and serve the causes they are passionate about through a variety of ways, including pro bono work, skills-based projects, and other service learning opportunities.
“Our focus is on our people and choice,” says Jessamine Chin, director of the VMware Foundation, “because what is meaningful to one person may not resonate with another. We find that when you let people choose where and how to contribute, the giving comes from an authentic place, and we want to encourage and amplify that kind of passion. We want to enable and empower people to be engaged, global citizens.”
At the core of Citizen Philanthropy is the belief that everyone has something to contribute. As such, the VMware Foundation serves as a giving platform to amplify the personal contributions of VMware people. In keeping with this approach to giving, individuals can choose which nonprofit to support and how they want to contribute, whether it’s their time, talent, resource, or voice. The VMware Foundation believes that everyone can develop both personally and professionally through service.
Geeky About Giving
One of the biggest days on the VMware Foundation calendar is March 14, Pi Day. ‘Pi’ refers, tongue-in-cheek, to the minimum employee donation of $31.41 and the maximum donation of $3,141.59 the VMware Foundation will match annually. We find that when you let people choose where and how to contribute, the giving comes from an authentic place, and we want to encourage and amplify that kind of passion. Jessamine Chin
We find that when you let people choose where and how to contribute, the giving comes from an authentic place, and we want to encourage and amplify that kind of passion.
This year’s Pi Day will focus on helping VMware people identify their passions and connecting them to ways of giving back. “We want people thinking about the year ahead and how they want to contribute from a service learning perspective,” says Chin.
The day’s activities will cross the globe, inviting people to create a “Service Learning Pi” to experience the healthy benefits of giving.
“Instead of pie ingredients like flour and eggs, the recipe for Pi differs from person to person,” says Chin. “We ask people what matters most? What life experiences have left the greatest impact? The ingredients for Pi are things like gratitude, passion, and leadership that will lead to rich opportunities to learn and grow.”
From Illinois to Ireland
VMware employees give back in numerous ways and often, Chin points out. It’s the individuals themselves who grow, are challenged, or who feel rewarded through the act of service.
Patrick Kremer, a Senior Partner Solution Engineer at VMware in Illinois, chose to give back by architecting and building a software-defined data center (SDDC) for a local school district. Not only did his project update much-needed infrastructure, but Kremer was able to gain new insight by seeing the project through from discovery to deployment—an opportunity his full-time role doesn’t normally provide.
Another example is Claire O’Regan, based in Cork, Ireland. O’Regan is passionate about science, technology, education, and math (STEM) opportunities for women. She contributed her service learning to speak at a conference for 4,000 students, encouraging young women to pursue STEM career paths. Using her own story as an example, she hopes to inspire future leaders and receives enormous satisfaction planting seeds for future generations.
“Choice is essential,” says Chin, “it contributes to people taking action, adds to collective impact, and opens up endless possibilities for giving. This democratization of giving is powerful and inspires us daily.”
The best learning is doing.
Other examples of VMware people contributing their service learning time and talents include Andrew Berenato with Surgicorps International, and the VMware Foundation’s leadership development program, Good Gigs, most recently collaborating with LEAP Science and Maths School in South Africa and CARE India.
Culture Carries Through
VMware’s emphasis on employees makes business sense, too.
“The best learning is doing. High levels of employee engagement reflect a strong culture, which is good for the bottom line,” says Chin. “Ultimately, we have a service mindset. It’s not only how we approach giving, but also how we approach colleagues, partners, and customers.”