Chronicle Journal: Finance

Six Month Pro Bono Project for CASA of Pikes Peak Region Turns T. Rowe Price Associates’ Business Skills Into Opportunities

SOURCE: T. Rowe Price


October 14, 2016 /3BL Media/ - Nine associates from T. Rowe Price’s Colorado Springs office participated in a six-month pro bono service project to help the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Pikes Peak Region provide an advocate for all children in need by 2020.

CASA of the Pikes Peak region trains and supervises court-appointed volunteers to represent children who have been victims of child abuse, neglect, and severe domestic conflicts. The volunteers meet regularly with children and their families, as well as teachers, doctors, and social workers to find safe and loving homes where the children can thrive.

“When children enter the system they have been removed from their homes,” says Jenny Bender, CASA’s executive director. “A special advocate’s role is important because they are often the person the child has the most contact with. The CASA volunteer knows the child well enough to advocate on his or her behalf.”

About 3,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect in Colorado every year, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services. CASA’s goal is to provide support to ensure safe permanent homes for all 900 children in the region’s foster care system. But in order to do so, the organization needed to increase its number of volunteers and peer coordinators—supervisors that provide CASAs with guidance and extra help.

To help CASA and other nonprofit organizations get the business expertise they need to solve their unique problems, the Center for Non Profit Excellence (CNE)—an organization that supports Southern Colorado nonprofit organizations by providing resources and opportunities for development and collaboration—designed and launched a scope-a-thon pilot program.

“Originally, we designed the scope-a-thon to be an around-the-clock 24-hour event where three businesses would match up with three nonprofits, meet, strategize, and give recommendations. But after the initial meeting, everyone wanted to dig into the problem deeper, so we turned it into a six-month process,” says Amber Coté, leadership and community steward of CNE, who oversees and manages skills-based volunteer engagement efforts.

CNE approached T. Rowe Price to participate in the pilot based on the company’s reputation in the community. “CNE considers T. Rowe Price to be a leader in community engagement,” says Amber Coté.

“Our associates have a keen desire to use their skills in a meaningful way and this pilot provided a great opportunity to see how we could leverage them,” says Jessica Isensee, a communications specialist in Colorado Springs and one of nine associates on the corporate engagement pilot team. 

“As a team, we used our expertise in leadership development, talent recruitment, and onboarding volunteers to give CASA tools to be more effective in those areas,” says John Ramirez, a lead manager in Personal Services Group.

Associates also used their experience with T. Rowe Price programs like EDGE, the leadership training program, to develop their recommendations. After six months of brainstorming, research, and interviews with CASA staff and volunteers, the team presented the organization with detailed strategies and recommendations. 

“We were really impressed with T. Rowe Price’s recommendations, which were extremely thorough, and with the amount of information about the organization they were able to absorb,” says Jenny Bender. “We think like nonprofit professionals so we valued the thought processes and business mindsets of the T. Rowe Price associates. It was great having different minds working together.”

The organization’s new strategic plan will include three of the T. Rowe Price team’s recommendations, including new recruitment strategies, rebranding of the peer coordinator role, and a fast-track plan for peer coordinators.

On September 9, T. Rowe Price Associates hosted CASA and CNE staff and volunteers and two other companies and nonprofits at a summit to celebrate the success of the corporate engagement pilot and discuss ways to improve the program and future events.

“We are happy with the success of this event and hope to continue building a partnership with T. Rowe Price in the future,” says Amber Coté.

For associates, the experience was fulfilling both personally and professionally

“Knowing that the end result of our work is helping develop volunteers who make foster kids’ lives better made the experience really rewarding,” says Amy Thacker, a senior manager in T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Plan Services operations.

To learn more about the role CASA plays in a child’s case, watch this video.

Tweet me: .@TRowePrice turns business skills into opportunities with 6 month pro bono project for ‎@CASAPikesPeak #CSR

KEYWORDS: Volunteerism & Community Engagement, pro bono, CASA, CASA of Pikes Peak Region, Center for Non Profit Excellence, CNE, T. Rowe Price

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