E-Bird Newsletter

Fairfax County companies find ways to do good during emergency

Editor’s note: Many businesses are struggling to survive the economic downturn wrought by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Other companies that haven’t been affected by the emergency are reaching out in different ways to support their local communities or fellow members of the business community. Here are four stories:

SAP NS2 boosts distance learning and food banks 

With all schools shut down for the rest of the academic year, school systems are finding ways to devise and implement online learning. Herndon-based SAP National Security Services (SAP NS2) announced a $20,000 donation that will help Fairfax County Public Schools address students’ distance-learning technology needs.

The company said its donation to the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools aims to prepare students for internet-based distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Donated funds will finance purchases of laptops, wireless routers and other supplies that will allow students to connect with learning environments from home.

“There’s never been a more critical time for business leaders to step up to help narrow the digital divide for these young learners,” said Mark Testoni, CEO of SAP NS2. “No matter where we do business, there’s a technology gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in our own backyards.”

In addition to the challenges posed by lack of face-to-face interaction in the classroom, the struggle to learn effectively is exacerbated for students who have little to no access to technology. A goal of the FCPS Distance Learning Plan is to mitigate inequities in technology and Internet access.

“Nearly 60,000 FCPS students who live in poverty need access to the internet in order to learn effectively from their homes,” said Elizabeth Murphy, executive director of the Foundation for FCPS. “Donations like this one will allow us to support our most vulnerable students and their families as we navigate through this crisis.”

SAP NS2 also pledged to donate $10,000 per month to food banks, such as the Capital Area Food Bank, in locations where SAP NS2 employees live. This release picked up by InsideNoVa has more on the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Harmonia delivers help for local restaurants

Harmonia Holdings Group, a federal contractor based in Tysons, launched an initiative to help support local businesses impacted by the pandemic. Harmonia is offering each of its nearly 400 employees $40 each week to order food, either for delivery or takeout, from their favorite local restaurant.

Pallabi Saboo, CEO of Harmonia said, “We have been very fortunate thus far. We are a federal contractor and all of our agency clients have allowed us to continue performing our work via telework. The impact to our business is thus minimal and it would be unconscionable of us to not do something to help our local small businesses. This program is a way to give our employees a weekly break from cooking at home, while at the same time supporting their respective local communities.”

Harmonia set the program up through Grubhub, a national food delivery/order for takeout service. Grubhub has set up accounts for each employee with an initial $40 credit that will be paid for by Harmonia. Harmonia will top up the credit to $40 every week and expects to do this for at least the next four weeks. Harmonia will also pay any fees associated with the accounts and orders so each employee can spend the full $40 at their favorite local joint each week.

“We realize not all of our employees may be comfortable ordering food for takeout or delivery, and that is their choice,” said Marc Abrams, co-founder and CTO of Harmonia. “Our hope is that most of our employees will avail themselves of this program. More importantly, we hope that other companies who have not been impacted will follow our lead. This could be a great way to pump some money back into our local economies.”

CVP launches fund to help mom-and-pops

Fairfax-based CVP, a business strategy and information technology consultancy, launched the Save Our Small Businesses (SOSb) Relief Fund. With a combination of corporate and employee donations, CVP will provide grants to “our local delis and lunch stops, bookstores, gyms, and other mom-and-pop stores we rely on every day.”

CVP started the fund with $50,000. As of this morning, the company tallied $70,582 in donations toward its goal of $100,000.

CVP intends to distribute grants of up to $2,500 per month for up to 3 months to help these businesses with expenses such as utility bills, capital leases, rent or mortgage payments, or similar expenses.

“We know from experience our employees and their social and business networks care and are committed to giving back to the community,” said Anirudh Kulkarni, CEO of CVP. “Let’s build a Relief Fund that can help give back to small businesses in the locations where CVP does business.”

Mars supports people and pets worldwide

McLean-based Mars, Incorporated is one of the largest privately owned businesses in the nation, employing 125,000 in 80 countries around the world. Founded more than a century ago, the company has a diverse portfolio of confectionery, food, and pet-care products and services. Now it has committed $20 million cash and in-kind product donations, in conjunction with its local markets and company foundations, to support communities in which it operates.

The support package includes:

  • $5 million donation to support CARE, the global anti-poverty organization, for critical supplies and expertise that will be deployed in the developing world, to women, children and refugee populations.
  • $2 million donation to the United Nation’s World Food Programme to aid in the transport and delivery of critical supplies for all United Nations agencies as they respond to the pandemic.
  • $1 million donation to Humane Society International to help cats and dogs that have been abandoned, left behind or surrendered to shelters due to their owners falling ill or no longer having the financial means to care for them.

The balance of $12 million will come from a combination of cash and in-kind donations from across the markets where Mars operates as well as donations from its foundations including the Mars Wrigley Foundation, the Banfield Foundation, the Pedigree Foundation and the Tasty Bite Foundation.

On its website, the company lists its Five Principles designed to guide decision-making:

  • We are committed to Quality of work and contributions to society.
  • We embrace our Responsibility (as individuals and a company) to act now.
  • We base decisions on Mutuality of benefit to our stakeholders.
  • We harness the power of Efficiency to use our resources to maximum effect.
  • We have the financial Freedom to make our own decisions, unrestricted by motivations of others.

“All our lives, our family has believed that our Five Principles are fundamental to the culture and success of Mars,” said Frank Mars, chair of the company’s board. “However, it’s during times of crisis that purpose and key guiding principles are both most important and really tested. We will only get through this pandemic by thinking mutually — by supporting one another, and that’s what this commitment to our communities is all about.”

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Call to action: How is your company reacting to the coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency? Are you developing any technologies, implementing any noteworthy procedures or have advice for other companies on how conduct business more effectively in this situation? Are you helping the community in a new way? Please contact the FCEDA communications division at info@fceda.org with relevant information that we may possibly share with our readers. Thank you for your assistance in these unprecedented times.