How Boston Tech Companies Are Supporting Their Communities

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Apr. 06, 2020
How Boston Tech Companies Are Supporting Their Communities
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In a world where lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders restrict physical movement, digital technology is filling the void to keep households connected, supplied, entertained and informed. 

But amid the increased demand for digital products and services — and the logistical challenges associated with a massive work-from-home transition — many Boston tech companies have not forgotten those who are struggling right now. We asked local tech leaders to describe how they’re giving back to their communities during this uncertain season, and the responses offer a fine example of the city’s wealth of ingenuity.

Know of a team or company that’s going above and beyond right now? Share the love using #UnitedWeTech.


Matt Kalish
President, North America • DraftKings

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

DraftKings started a charity initiative, “#DKRally,” to mobilize sports fans everywhere to band together in support of our communities. In the spirit of triumphing over adversity, the #DKRally initiative has committed up to $1 million to United Way, with an initial donation of $500,000. For every rally cap photo and hashtag shared on social media, DraftKings is donating $1 to the United Way’s COVID-19 relief fund.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We remain committed to our primary corporate social responsibility initiative, Tech for Heroes, which provides military veterans and their spouses with the high-tech skills they need to begin a new career in tech or upskill in their current roles. In 2019, the company committed nearly $1 million to supporting the veteran community and other organizations, but given the current circumstances, it was important to be responsive to the immediate needs facing our country and communities. Working with incredible organizations like the United Way allows DraftKings to diversify and complement the way we engage with the communities we are a part of. 


Natan Linder
CEO • Tulip

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

At this critical moment, we’re offering our software and services for free to all manufacturers contributing to the fight against COVID-19. We believe Tulip can be instrumental in ramping up production, bringing new therapies to market and helping manufacturers retool their production lines to build products that help fight COVID-19. We’re also building and sharing free applications that can be used by hospitals and factories on the frontline, such as an app that screens visitors and employees for symptoms and displays their travel history. Finally, we’re working with nonprofits in the open-source manufacturing community and providing Tulip for free as the information system for distributed production and supply chain logistics.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We immediately saw that the manufacturing community — our customers — would have a critical role to play in the fight against COVID-19. Our greatest gift right now is how we can provide free and fast support, so we rapidly refocused our resources, energy and time to help the manufacturing community. We’ve been working overtime to help deploy our software to companies and organizations across the United States, and I’m proud to say that Tulip is helping manufacturers build and deliver essential medical supplies like masks to communities from Seattle to Boston. 


Tom Penque
Chief Talent Officer • Definitive Healthcare

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

Over the past three weeks, we have been donating our data to branches of the government, universities and organizations to drive publicly accessible solutions as fast as possible to the market. This type of engagement is already a hallmark of our company culture but is particularly important during this time of crisis.

Most recently, we developed a COVID-19 capacity predictor map, a free dashboard that indicates to government and healthcare leaders where, and when, crucial resources like ICU hospital beds and mechanical ventilators should be deployed. We also partnered with one of our long-term clients, Esri, to develop an interactive mapped data service to enable analysis, visualization and tracking of U.S. hospital bed capacity, and potential areas of geographic risk, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through a referral from another client, we are providing our ICU bed data to a consulting firm that is helping the Department of Defense deploy the Army Corp of Engineers to build and staff hospitals across the United States based on a combination of need — projected infections — and supply of existing beds. We’ve also been working with GraphiteRx to develop a website to help hospitals obtain emergency supplies from alternative sources, such as foreign medical suppliers, domestic non-medical manufacturers and other large organizations.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Definitive Healthcare is well-known for its DefinitiveCares community service outreach program, which gives employees paid time off to volunteer at local charities during work hours and rewards participation with additional paid vacation days. In 2019 alone, we contributed 3,404 working hours and $193,500 to 41 charitable organizations.

During this critical time, many charitable organizations are closed to in-person volunteers, so we’ve turned toward supporting virtual opportunities for employees. We are working with our partners that focus on eldercare and education to support them remotely. We are also sharing additional options for virtual volunteering with our employees, including making masks for healthcare workers and creating activity care packages for students or adults who are currently homebound.


Kaitlyn Martins
Employment Brand Manager • Drift

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

We have made membership to our community sales and marketing learning platform, Drift Insider Plus, only $20 — it’s normally $100 — so that people can still network and learn from home. That $20 from each registration will be donated to Feeding America. We also created Drift coloring pages for people with little ones at home, which can be downloaded for free. In addition, we put together a guide about how to make the most of video capture, since everyone is on Zoom these days.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Our newly formed partnership with Feeding America certainly expands our giving initiatives, which we feel are more important than ever right now. One of Drift’s leadership principles is “be a curious learning machine.” This discounted access to Insider Plus allows anyone who is interested in sales and marketing to continue to expand their network and learn more about the industry from the comfort of their home and for a fraction of the cost, with that entire membership fee going straight back into the community.

Also, Drift Video Pro is now free for all teachers, students and nonprofit employees. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a sharp uptick in teachers, tutors and educators using Drift Video to help their students transition to a new distance learning paradigm. We built Drift Video for businesses, but the ability to privately share videos, know who has watched which ones and be able to message the teacher while watching the video has proven a perfect match for schools, too. 



Christina Luconi
Chief People Officer • Rapid7

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

Each of our offices are supporting local restaurants by hosting trivia and other contests and providing gift cards as prizes. Our company has a great love of music, so we are introducing a Friday night concert series and live-streaming musicians to support them, which provides a great opportunity for our people, along with their family and roommates, to enjoy the power of music together.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We have some well-established relationships with organizations, including BUILDBoston and Hack.Diversity, and are continuing to support them.


London Lee

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

In response to COVID-19, we are actively engaging our service, employees and corporate giving resources to support local communities. This includes contributing in-kind donations, launching employee giving campaigns and developing remote volunteer opportunities, such as virtual mock interviews for local job seekers. 

Globally, we have also distributed pro bono advertising credits to help our partners launch meaningful campaigns around COVID-19 and pledged $1 million to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation. We are committed to serving our communities year-round. Right now, we are working closely with our partners to understand and respond to their acute, ever-changing needs.


Reza Zanjani
CEO • Mixfit

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

Meaningful contribution to people’s lives is at the heart of innovation. Our team and company have been developing the second-generation of Mixfit’s real-time, personalized nutrition drink system that delivers the precise amount of nutrients a person needs based on their own health and unique lifestyle. While our plans were to launch in summer 2020, our teams in Boston, Seattle and Lausanne, Switzerland, have been working tirelessly with our manufacturers and partners to expedite a limited production batch. 

We’ll be donating up to 10,000 personalized nutrition drinks to our communities, frontline responders providing care and the essential service providers who support us all during these challenging times, which include journalists and law enforcement. We encourage businesses and institutions to reach out so we can provide them with support as the stock becomes available. 


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We are focused on the belief that every person deserves to be healthy so they can be everything they want to be. The recent events completely shifted our charitable plans and we’re prioritizing our 10,000 drink giveaway in support of our communities. Everybody deserves complete health, and we have to prioritize helping our communities now in what ways we can as a small company and know that our combined communal efforts can make a big impact.


Bill Bither

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

At MachineMetrics, many of our customers, local and otherwise, are manufacturers on the frontlines delivering life-saving medical devices and device components. As a company, we’ve shifted our focus to helping these heroes keep their plants running to produce solutions during this unprecedented situation. Our first action was to launch a program to provide remote monitoring capabilities to support remote work and social distancing for manufacturers contributing to the fight against COVID-19. The program includes free access to the MachineMetrics platform, our remote factory applications and consulting services for any manufacturer involved with the production of ventilator parts, test equipment, protective equipment or any COVID-19 related manufacturing support. By enabling mobile workers, industrial companies are better able to ensure the safety of their workers while continuing to serve the community.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Our data science team has shifted their efforts to reporting on the impact of coronavirus on the manufacturing community. We’ve been making this information regularly available on our blog and through social media with the goal of providing as much insight as we can to our customers and the manufacturing community as a whole. We’ve also begun a free live panel series with the goal of providing manufacturers with the information they need to make the best decisions possible in the coming months. Now more than ever these capabilities are particularly useful as many are forced to work away from their factory floors. It’s our duty and an honor to help these manufacturers in this time of need.


Elyse Neumeier
Chief People Officer • EverQuote

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

A beloved perk at EverQuote is our Tuesday catered lunches, and since moving to work from home we’ve decided to allocate the money that would have been spent on lunches to both charitable organizations in our community and the local restaurants we typically order from. This budget has gone to organizations like the Greater Boston Food Bank and restaurants like Bon Me and Nu Kitchen. For National Nurses Week, we ordered lunches for nursing units that are connected to the EverQuote team in some way.

We also launched a weekly photo contest dubbed #quarantinecontest. Each week we have a different theme — like best WFH space, most delicious looking dessert or highest step count — and our amazing admin team selects a winner to feature in our weekly virtual town hall. The winner picks a charity for EverQuote to donate to on their behalf: We’ve donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, SCORE Boston Hockey and more!


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Now more than ever we are working to tie together team engagement with community engagement. We’ve changed charitable giving to be more employee-led and less something that happens behind the scenes. EverQuote is lucky to be in an industry that has been affected by COVID-19 in fewer ways than most, so it’s important to us to use this as an opportunity to ramp up our support for our community.


Erin Shea
North America Market Director • Vista

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

Vistaprint rallied its engineering and manufacturing teams to optimize existing machinery to begin producing face shields in a matter of days. We’re showing our support for frontline healthcare providers by donating 100,000 face shields to hospitals in communities across the country. There are three recipient locations in the greater Boston area: Boston Children’s Hospital, St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Western Massachusetts hospital Baystate Health, located in Springfield, also received a donation of 1,000 face shields.

Vistaprint is also the proud founding funder of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Save Small Business Fund. Vistaprint’s donation of $1 million helped launch this small business assistance program, which provides one-time grants of $5,000 to eligible small businesses in distressed communities across the country. 

As a marketing partner to millions of small business owners around the world — and right here in the Boston area —Vistaprint has created a growing bank of resources to support these entrepreneurs. These include a live online webinar series, free social design tools that allow small businesses to stand out on social platforms, Vistaprint Profiles that offer a free rapid path to getting an online presence for those without a website and low-cost design assistance to help small businesses bring everything together with a cohesive brand look and feel.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Vistaprint has always been there as a partner for small businesses. Now more than ever, we’re doing all we can to help small businesses get through this difficult time and thrive in a post-pandemic world. We continue to adapt our offerings to better serve our small business customers.


Steve Pemberton
Chief Human Resources Officer • Workhuman

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

Life and work don’t stop just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. What happens to the birthday card that gets passed around the office? The collections to pitch in for a baby shower gift? The impromptu chat about the puppy your colleague is thinking about adopting? Life Events allows companies to crowdsource these moments of celebration and illuminate all the good that’s happening in our lives. As a leading provider of social recognition programs, what we do matters now more than ever. That’s why we’ve decided to offer special editions of our Life Events and Conversations products free until March 2021 to help mitigate isolation during the COVID-19 disruption.

And even though I’m unable to meet with my direct reports in person for the foreseeable future, work hasn’t stopped. Managers can use our Conversations experience to make sure they connect one on one with their direct reports on a regular basis to not only check in on projects but also to provide much-needed support.

All responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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