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April 19, 2017 / WRAG

Boeing partners with WRAG to help nonprofits understand why and how companies give back to their communities

by Tom Bartlett
Senior Manager, Global Corporate Citizenship
Boeing Company

In 2017 Boeing began its second century of operation. The world looks quite different 100 years removed from our founding, and our relevance requires continuous innovation to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global environment. At the strategic core of our company and our quest for aerospace leadership is an enduring commitment to community engagement. We recognize that our success hinges on strong communities and even stronger partners who build better futures for all our fellow citizens.

I started my journey at Boeing more than 11 years ago, first as an engineer and now as a senior manager of our east coast community engagement team. I’ve been fortunate to witness and share in many company firsts, but none has had me more excited than the new direction of our community investment strategy. As we move forward, we will push ahead with renewed focus on supporting tomorrow’s innovators and honoring our heroes – ensuring children attain the 21st century skills necessary for the modern workplace, and military veterans (and their families) are equipped to succeed in their next mission. We will also remain actively engaged in issues of critical importance to our local communities and provide corporate leadership where necessary.

Implementing this reimagined strategy effectively will take work and iteration. It will require focused conversations with our stakeholders to ensure we account for the shifting needs and priorities of our community. I was recently talking to a new colleague about the principle of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. As a result of that conversation, we committed to creating new mechanisms for increasing our own understanding of the realities our community partners face working on the front lines of social change. On the flip side, as a funding community, I think we can do more to open our doors to our nonprofit partners. Luckily our friends at the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) agree.

Next week, Boeing will partner with WRAG as they host their 3rd annual Fundamentals of CSR Workshop on April 27 and 28. This two-day event will provide nonprofit leaders with a real lens into the world of CSR professionals. Participants will learn about the latest sector trends, drivers of corporations’ community investment strategies and, most importantly, how companies evaluate prospective opportunities. Aimed at enabling greater partnership and collaboration, the event will feature interactive sessions and networking opportunities with peers, as well as leaders from companies across the region. The WRAG team has put together an incredible program and all funders should encourage their community partners to attend.

My time as an engineer taught me that unless one fully understands a problem and its related constraints, one will struggle to find the correct solution. Today we need business, government and non-profit leaders to operate together. Collective agility, resiliency, creativity and a constructive dialogue will advance positive outcomes for all. Next week’s CSR workshop provides an opportunity to take a first step in creating value for all stakeholders. We’re excited to play a role in the conversation and hope you will join us!

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