Blog Image // How TripActions Empowers the Next Generation of Tech Leaders
Oct 30, 2020

How TripActions Empowers the Next Generation of Tech Leaders

Samantha Shankman

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In challenging times, innovation doesn’t just mean adapting a product. True innovation comes from looking beyond your immediate challenges and responding to your community’s needs -- especially in your own backyard.

TripActions recently partnered with three local organizations in San Francisco to contribute laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and mentorship to students and young professionals looking to enter the tech industry. While the past 8 months have brought its own unique challenges to the travel industry, the TripActions team felt a responsibility to serve those around them and do whatever they could to contribute to local communities impacted by the situation. With COVID, many organizations were forced to reimagine how they worked together and continued to support their members’ goals and aspirations.

Uplifting San Francisco Communities

The three organizations - Hack the Hood, Climbhire, and Burton High School - each have a strong mission and track record in uplifting young adults who are eager for opportunities. But with COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, technology and a sturdy Wi-Fi connection quickly became an issue. The organizations and high school had previously met in person, but they were put in a position where they couldn't even reach students who did not have laptops or connectivity at home.

“Being able to respond with resources is just one incredible way to support their work. We saw the need for laptops and technology that would ensure they could continue their education uninterrupted,” explains Shaka Senghor, TripActions Head of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, who spearheaded the initiatives.

“When I thought of places that we could immediately start impacting, I reached out to my network. I respect the innovative way that these organizations are approaching education and empowering their students to be change agents.”

Hack the Hood is an organization that supports disadvantaged young people who are interested in entering the tech workforce while Climbhire helps young adults prepare for a career transition often from retail or sales into tech.

“TripActions' donation of laptops and other equipment helps to guarantee that participants in Hack the Hood's programming have access to high quality equipment on which they can receive training and pursue career opportunities. By providing these laptops, Hack the Hood is able to directly mitigate the ‘barrier to entry’ presented by the need for participants to have decent learning/working machines,” says Chris Runde, Director of Operations at Hack the Hood.

“In partnering with Hack the Hood and making this donation, TripActions is truly eliminating barriers and increasing the potential for a more equitable tech industry.”

TripActions also contributed laptops and snacks to Burton High School, which is an underfunded high school in San Francisco. Even with the incredible staff doing everything they could to support students during lockdown, it was difficult for many of the children who come from marginalized communities.

“We recently had a lot of really great, early stage equipment come back in that we couldn’t repurpose. Our team identified more than 100 computers including MacBooks and Windows which we could contribute to these communities. We first met with them to understand their needs and then provided the appropriate technology,” explains Doug Innocenti, Director of Information Technology Services and Operations at TripActions.

IT Support Engineers Herby Lissade II and Zack Nelson were integral members of the operation. They were responsible for wiping the hard drive of every machine as well as disinfecting and sanitizing them until they were as good as new. The team will continue to inspect every laptop that is returned and redistribute the equipment to these organizations to meet their needs.

Beyond Equipment

This is just the start of a budding relationship in which TripActions will provide mentorship and training opportunities in addition to equipment. The leadership team is also working across departments to transition the bulk snack orders once delivered to the office to Burton High, which sends packages home to students who might not have access to regular nutrition.

“The donations from TripActions will help the PACE team at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School approach our goal of addressing access and equity for our African American and Latinx youth while in distance learning. Through their snack and tech donations, 120 youth will receive either a monthly snack box to their homes or a laptop to access their online classes. Many of the youth targeted have been significantly impacted by the COVID pandemic,” Karla Ruiz, Associate Director of PACE at Burton High school.

This is just the first step in the social giving initiatives that have been organized by the TripActions leadership team. There are plans to extend the communities efforts to all cities where a TripActions office is based as well as find opportunities to engage with students on an individual basis. A young professional from Climbhire recently started interning at TripActions.

“These programs add value to society. It exhibits what social philanthropy looks like in real time. For many companies, the instinct is to write a check, which is great, but there are other ways to contribute and connect more deeply with the communities that we serve,” says Shaka.

The goal at TripActions has always been to contribute something meaningful to society. There's nothing more meaningful than social giving -- of equipment but more importantly of time and information. The challenges of the past year have presented our teams the opportunity to recognize all that we can be grateful for and as a result reimagine how we can share and uplift the communities around us.

The values that drive us at work are the same that inspire us to give back to our communities. Whether it’s “always raising the bar” or “focusing on what really matters,” our business is only as meaningful as its impact.

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