Amazon has long been committed to the communities where its employees live and work. More and more, the focus of the company’s giving has been on supporting neighbors in need by helping to fight hunger and homelessness. Amazon also prioritizes guiding the next generation of future innovators, using its scale and reach to raise awareness about critical issues, and supporting local causes near and dear to employees’ hearts.
This culture of giving not only benefits the communities Amazon serves but also inspires and is a point of pride for employees. A sense of energy and excitement is present at each of the employee-driven community events, and thousands of volunteer hours are proudly served each year.
Fighting hunger and homelessness
The fight against hunger is an issue Amazon contributes to on a corporate and local level. Earlier this year, Amazon awarded grants to 100 schools as part of its Rise & Smile breakfast program, which helps incorporate a healthy breakfast into the school day for students. In partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative, Rise & Smile aims to bring 3.1 million breakfasts to more than 29,000 students across the United States.
It’s long been a tenet of Amazon fulfillment centers to donate to food banks, but in 2016, Amazon launched its first nationwide initiative with U.S.-based nonprofit Feeding America. Through this initiative, Amazon donates excess food from its U.S. fulfillment center network to Feeding America to distribute via food banks. At the end of 2017, Amazon had donated enough food to provide millions of meals to those in need. Amazon fulfillment center operations leaders also provide time and expertise to help food banks operate more efficiently.
Initiatives to combat homelessness have received tremendous support from Amazon as well. Fulfillment centers have focused their holiday giving toward organizations helping homeless families and veterans, and the company challenged Boston-based St. Mary’s Center to raise $1 million through fundraising. If that goal is reached, Amazon will match funds with a $1 million grant. St. Mary’s, which assists children and families with shelter and services to help them transition into permanent homes and sustainable employment, met the challenge in June 2018. The $2 million grant is going toward the $7 million required to build a Community Resource Center.
Closer to home in Seattle, in 2017, Amazon donated 25,000 square feet to FareStart’s foodservice apprentice program, which equips low-income foodservice workers with the skills needed to become economically independent. With a mission to provide real solutions to poverty, homelessness, and hunger, FareStart has been positively changing lives for more than 25 years.
For many years, it’s been a foundational practice in Amazon’s fulfillment centers to financially support schools, school districts, robotics competition clubs, libraries, and reading programs. In addition, associates and leaders within each of our fulfillment centers are able to choose volunteer activities that match their interests and bolster their local communities. Via the Amazon Cares program, employees help out in their own backyards, giving their time to support groups such as the American Cancer Society, the Boys & Girls Club of America, hospitals, Habitat for Humanity, and the YMCA, among many others. And these community contributions, which continue year over year, dovetail with the company’s larger giving efforts.
In 2018, for the second year in a row, Amazon partnered with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) to raise awareness about issues impacting children diagnosed with cancer, the No. 1 disease-related cause of death for children in the U.S. In September, for National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Amazon once again embraced a #GoGold campaign and initiated several activities—including wrapping an Amazon aircraft in gold to bring greater attention to the cause. “Go Gold” and ACCO’s tag line, “because kids can’t fight cancer alone,” were boldly featured on the side of the aircraft.
In addition, to demonstrate support for children with cancer, Amazon employees wore pajamas—the battle uniform of kids with cancer—to work as a company-wide initiative. Amazon also shipped millions of customer orders in custom-themed boxes with gold ribbons, the international symbol of childhood cancer, and hosted children affected by cancer at several of its fulfillment centers across the nation to explore the magic of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Amazon hopes to cultivate the sense of curiosity and problem solving inherent in STEM with all children. The company strives to inspire youth to pursue an education—and potentially careers—in STEM fields. During summer 2017, Amazon hosted an “A to Z Experience” STEM camp, which welcomed hundreds of local students ages 9 to 14 to the company’s urban Seattle headquarters and nearby fulfillment center. Camp participants brainstormed big ideas for Amazon, discovered the correlation between math and video games, learned to prep and ship a package, and built their own Amazon robot.
Also in 2017, through its partnership with Code.org, Amazon committed more than $50 million to computer science (CS) and STEM efforts that help students, particularly those who are disadvantaged, have the opportunity to understand CS.