2018 LA84 Foundation Summit Recap: Doing Well by Doing Good

Corporations, through their foundations and corporate social responsibility offices, play a leading role in sport philanthropy. That was the topic of one of the of the final panel discussions at the 2018 LA84 Foundation Summit.

Speakers from some of the biggest companies in the country sharing how their organizations are helping out those in need.

They were; Angela Woods, senior director of Corporate Citizenship with ESPN  Eric Reed, director of business sales for Verizon Wireless and Tara Gutkowski-Schwartz, VP of social responsibility at the NBA & WNBA. The panel was moderated by Joanne Pasternack, head of global impact with ServiceNow.

Woods kicked off the panel by sharing how the Walt Disney Company. which owns ESPN, ensures its employees know that the organization wants to give back.

“It has been embedded and ingrained in us from a company perspective,” she said. “We really see it has intrinsic to our value and the message we want to deliver to our fans.”

Reed looked at Verizon and believed the company can be known for more than just a wireless giant.

“Technology connects people, but education does as well. We wanted to marry the two together,” he said. “We want to create a stem pipeline of kids that will hopefully be working as our next generation of engineers and technologists in the future of America.”

The NBA has been at the forefront of the four major North American leagues when it comes to philanthropy. Gutkowski-Schwartz said part of the decision to change the format of this year’s all-star game from east vs. west, to having captains pick their teams, came with an added bonus.

“When we did that,  we decided each of these teams was going to play for a charity,” she said. “We gave $500,000 , the winning team’s charity benefitted with $350,000, the losing team’s charity got $150,000. The money had to go to charities in Los Angeles, we wanted that to be our lasting contribution to the city.”

Woods shared ESPN’s vision to not only give back to communities in America, but also to those in need from around the globe.

“Very proud of a program we are doing in India, where girls drop out of sports as a younger age,” Woods said. “This program, we are working with Magic Bus, to make sure young girls are staying in school and getting an education.”

Reed then shared his memories of being a young athlete with big dreams. He had some words of advice for children who may feel dejected at not being able to play professional sports. Just because you’re not part of the exclusive group of people who get to play in the big leagues, it doesn’t mean you can’t be involved.

“There’s technology involved with what players on the field or on the court are doing … you can still have a rich impact on the game.” Reed said.