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ASC YearEnd Featured

Ascendium employees care: Giving back to our communities in 2023

Community giving is more than a key part of Ascendium life and culture. It's a key value for many of our employees. Our employee giving program, Ascendium Cares, embodies our employees' commitment to making a difference in the communities where they live and work. This year, Ascendium and its employees stepped up their giving to their local communities, setting new records for volunteer hours, dollars, and school supplies donated to nonprofit organizations.

As we reflect on Ascendium's year in community giving, we invited several employees to share their thoughts on what giving means to them.

A 2023 year-in-review infographic displaying Ascendium Cares’ snapshot of employee-driven giving (as of Nov. 30), with 5,900+ total hours volunteered, $503,000+ total dollars given, and 100+ total organizations supported. In the personal employee giving category, employees donated $112,000+ to 80+ local nonprofits in their communities, and Ascendium tripled that to $336,000+ for a total of $448,000+. In the employee pledges category, employees donated $28,600+ to support local United Ways and Community Shares of Wisconsin, and Ascendium quadrupled that to $114,400+ for a total of $143,000+. In the volunteer hours match category, Ascendium matched employees’ volunteer hours by donating $23,750 to 30 nonprofits. In our school supply drive, employees donated 1,800+ supplies to local children.

Giving as Volunteering

Our employees were incredibly generous with their time this year. Of the 5,900+ total hours employees volunteered, 1,200+ hours came from paid volunteer time off and 4,700+ hours came from volunteering outside of work. Overall, 70% of Ascendium's employees participated in Ascendium Cares, which provides diverse opportunities throughout the year to volunteer and donate. At Ascendium's Madison, Wisconsin, location, for instance, employees crafted everything from birthday banners to haunted house rooms for local children, did landscaping work, and sorted fruits and vegetables for a local food bank.

"Ascendium has made it really easy for employees to find a giving effort that works for them," said Diane, a business systems analyst. "This plants the seed for wanting to do the same outside of work."

Tanya, a support specialist, agreed that Ascendium's generous corporate giving structure encourages employees to give outside of work, too. "I think it's great we highlight our after-work volunteering through Beyond Volunteer Time Off because it helps you realize how much others do outside of work. It really does inspire you to do more and find more ways to help."

Giving as Community

Employees are certainly finding more ways to help. For Christine, a school support service advisor, these efforts amount to being part of a caring community. "Knowing we're helping our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and communities by being there for them when they need it most is why I feel so passionate about Ascendium Cares."

Dan, a senior web developer, similarly appreciates that Ascendium's culture of giving focuses on employees' connections to their local communities. "Ascendium is unique in that it involves the input of its own employees who are, after all, members of the communities to which our giving wishes to serve."

To capitalize on employees' deep engagement with their communities, Ascendium created the Good Neighbor Grant program. Employees nominate and vote for local organizations that go above and beyond to create education and workforce training opportunities. This year, twenty total nonprofits received $50,000 each for a total of $1 million awarded.

Diane noticed that Good Neighbor Grants can further strengthen the bonds between employees and their communities. When she nominated a local nonprofit for a Good Neighbor Grant, she met with staff and clients to better portray their work. "I did a deep dive into what their mission is and how they seek to achieve it. This is so much more than a shelter for homeless families and individuals."

Reflecting on what community giving means to her, she said, "Being engaged with my community is what makes it a community."

A 2023 year-in-review infographic displaying Ascendium’s local giving in Madison, Wisconsin, with $5.3 million of total giving in 2023. $2.5 million went to the Black Business Hub, which will house at least 100 Black-owned businesses in a state-of-the-art center of commerce and entrepreneurism. $1.5 million went to the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center, which fills the need for skilled trade laborers while empowering all young people to reach their full potential. $1 million of Good Neighbor Grants went to 20 nonprofits, 13 of which are in Madison, Wisconsin. $300,000 went to Operation Fresh Start, which empowers young adults on a path to self-sufficiency through education, mentoring, and employment training.

Giving as Living our Mission

With the aim of championing opportunity for everyone, Ascendium knows that investing in our communities makes us all stronger and that individuals coming together can affect change.

As he participated throughout the year in giving initiatives, Dan saw how volunteering with other Ascendium employees folds into our collective mission to help learners from low-income backgrounds reach their highest potential. "The issues and problems that we are trying to address with our work and our volunteering can best be solved through the combined small efforts of many individuals. Even though I may be one person gluing ribbons to a box, when I collaborate with a group of my colleagues, I get a sense of being a part of a larger solution."

Learn more about Ascendium's community giving by reading about Ascendium Cares and Ascendium's corporate giving.