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A Responsibility to do Good

August 5, 2022 — Modern Economy Project

Even the most engaged business watchers could be forgiven for occasionally getting lost in a sometimes endless sea of corporate vocabulary and jargon.

Among the many terms in this area, however, one stands out – representing the ways in which modern employers are having a direct, positive impact on their workers and communities, and yet include stories that are rarely told.

Corporate social responsibility, CSR for short, is the idea that employers can and should do good – good by their employees, by their communities, and by the world at large.

At its core, CSR promotes the twin truths that employers can only be as strong as the communities in which they operate, and that modern employers are increasingly offering life-changing positive benefits to their employees and their communities.

The Modern Economy Project believes in telling those stories and highlighting those modern employers who are investing in a better world while continuing to provide economic opportunities.

In 2021, Amazon launched the Amazon Housing Equity Fund as part of the company’s commitment to affordable housing. Since then, Amazon has helped provide long-term affordable housing supporting an estimated 18,000 people with low-rate loans, grants, and partnerships with local governments and nonprofit agencies – to the tune of more than $1.2 billion in loans and grant commitments for moderate- to low-income families and individuals in three communities Amazon calls home: Washington State’s Puget Sound region; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee.

In September 2020, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) was established to provide immediate financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to strengthen the Black business community. Since its launch, CBBB has awarded grants to more than 1,000 Black-owned small businesses in 40 states to help cover essential needs as they navigated the pandemic, from covering rent and payroll expenses to expanding their online presence and marketing efforts.

CBBB, which counts the U.S. Black Chambers (a Modern Economy Project member) as a co-founder, recently awarded 20 Black-owned small businesses $25,000 enhancement grants to support growth and long-term success. Among the 20 recipients – 45 percent of which started their business during the pandemic – 80 percent are women-owned small businesses and 85 percent have six or fewer employees.

Another Modern Economy Project member is the International Franchise Association (IFA) – representing the local franchise businesses that are driving our economy forward. IFA recently highlighted the story of Ruth Agbaji, who taught herself computer code in Nigeria in the early 1990s.

Ruth escaped the violence in her country and went on to have a successful career as a software engineer working at companies such as Microsoft, Cablevision and Kronos. It was her interest in the field, mentorship, and wanting to pay it forward that led to the creation of the Code Wiz franchise brand, a top-rated online coding and robotics school for kids ages 7 – 17.

Ruth works to educate parents and showcase the power of coding, and what coding can do for their children. The coding classes are designed to give kids the programming knowledge, skills, and confidence to thrive in a digital world. Because, as Ruth says: every child has a form of inner genius that’s just waiting to be unlocked.

TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of tech. leaders that promotes the growth of the innovation economy – and is a founding member of the Modern Economy Project.

In recent months, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, TechNet has been amplifying the efforts of tech. companies that are hard at work defending democracy, supporting Ukraine, and isolating Russia.

While the tech. industry always plays an essential role in keeping people informed and connected, TechNet’s members are also increasing humanitarian support for refugees and charities on the ground in Ukraine. Companies are donating millions to relief organizations and collecting and distributing supplies and other critical items – and are also working to keep user data and messages safe and protected and networks secure and operational in eastern Europe and here at home.

And of course, many tech. companies have ceased doing business in Russia, as well.

The Modern Economy Project is committed to continuing to tell these stories and show how modern employers are – and must continue to – invest in their workers and their communities and we are proud that our coalition members are at the forefront of raising that bar.

That is how we will continue expanding economic opportunities across our country and strengthening our modern economy.

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