2020 was an unimaginable year, and I’m extremely proud of the impact the Vertex Foundation continues to make. Faced with unprecedented challenges, we stepped up to meet them. Check out this short video and read on to learn more about where we focused our efforts over the past year.
Responding to COVID-19
When COVID-19 hit, the Foundation’s priority was to immediately assess and then address the most urgent needs in our global communities resulting from the pandemic. We focused on supporting on-the-ground organizations providing essential emergency services in communities where Vertex employees live and work. This included both funding for health care and supplies (personal protective equipment and testing) and support for vulnerable populations (food, care and education). All told we were able to provide more than $5 million to 22 organizations across eight countries — Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K and the U.S. The Foundation was proud to be one of the first funders of the Boston Resiliency Fund, established to help support residents in the city of Boston most affected by the pandemic. Developing new, long-term partnerships with these organizations was certainly a positive outcome from last year.
Learn more about the Foundation’s commitment here.
Fighting for Racial Equity and Social Justice
For many people, the tragic killings of young Black men and women sparked a renewed sense of urgency to stand up for racial equity and social justice, and I’m glad that the dialogue about systemic racism and racial inequity continues to be front and center in people’s minds. As we thought about how we could contribute to positive change in a meaningful and impactful way, we were reminded that this work is a natural extension of our commitment to inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E).
The Vertex Foundation committed $1.5 million as the first corporate funder of the new Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, which is being led by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. The mission of the Center is to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. The Foundation’s donation will support the Center’s research and data collection to identify innovative policies that may reduce or eliminate racial disparities, including health disparities, in the U.S. We are also looking forward to hosting an annual public symposium to spark antiracism dialogue and action in the broader community.
The Foundation also pledged $1 million over the next four years to the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, which was founded last year by a coalition of Black and Brown executives in Massachusetts to leverage our individual and collective power to work together with community organizations to make transformational societal changes. The mission of the Fund is to provide essential support, resources and thought leadership for uncovering and dismantling systemic racism and all of its various and insidious forms within institutions in Boston and across the other 350 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Damian Wilmot, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk & Compliance Officer at Vertex, is one of the founders and will be serving on the Fund’s core leadership team.
Additionally, Vertex and the Vertex Foundation committed more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations focused on addressing racial equity in education, including Year Up, Biomedical Science Careers Program, Bottom Line, Boston Private Industry Council, City Year and Equal Justice Works.
You can read more about the Foundation’s commitment to racial equity and social justice here.
Engaging Our Employees
While traditional volunteering declined due to COVID-19, we found new ways for employees to participate in our annual Day of Service, which actually became a Week of Service. As a result, we saw high participation rates with 1,132 employees across 14 countries joining coordinated virtual or outdoor activities or completing individual actions. From designing STEAM activities for students to conducting mock interviews and crafting toy turtles and fleece blankets, there were opportunities for everyone, all in support of 62 different partner organizations. More than 200 employees in seven countries also contributed by completing community-focused individual actions on their own schedules.
In addition to the Vertex Foundation’s regular annual Matching Gift program, we launched two double match campaigns: one focused on supporting COVID-19 relief efforts and one focused on supporting racial and social justice organizations. This gave employees the opportunity to donate to a curated list of vetted organizations and increase their own individual impact. These successful campaigns resulted in nearly $1 million in donations to 51 organizations. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, the Matching Gift program continues to be meaningful to Vertexians as we saw a 42% increase in participation compared to 2019.
In 2020 the Foundation also launched nonprofit board service training virtually to continue to support employees’ community engagement efforts and skills development. We offered three half-day virtual training sessions in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.
Read more about how the Foundation helped employees give back to their communities in 2020 here.
Supporting Existing Partners
In the midst of so much uncertainty, the Foundation strengthened its commitments with existing partners so they could continue their impactful work. 2020 was a tough year for everyone, but that was especially true for nonprofit organizations, many of which had to cancel their annual fundraising galas and other programs designed to fund their activities. Staying true to the Foundation’s mission, we re-upped our support for grantees focusing on supporting healthy families, disaster relief, social innovation and STEAM education.
Read more about how Camp Sunshine, Barretstown and The Painted Turtle reimagined summer camp here.
Find out more about the Vertex Foundation’s partnerships with Americares and Direct Relief here.
The Foundation also awarded 87 Vertex Foundation scholarships in the U.S. and Canada to people living with cystic fibrosis and their immediate family members (siblings, caregivers, children and spouses). This annual scholarship was established in 2017 to help recipients pursue collegiate two-year, four-year or graduate degrees. Learn more about the program, and meet some “class of 2020” scholarship recipients here.
What’s ahead for the Vertex Foundation in 2021? While no one can predict what the year has in store for us, I look forward to continuing the momentum we built in 2020 to further our impact, strengthen employee engagement and deepen our focus on racial and social justice.