Social Responsibility

OVERVIEW

At Stax, social responsibility is woven into our every day. The portfolio of our efforts is heavily weighted towards education/workforce development and the environment, with opportunistic areas of the interest of our teams, specifically within veterans’ affairs, financial services for low-income consumers, healthcare, and overall development of the social sector. We prefer sustainable impact to short-term results. We do this in three ways:

  1. Social enterprise. We launch social ventures via Stax DevCorp, because we see tremendous opportunities to solve critical social issues through a for-profit model. This has multiple benefits – including the ability to deliver results at scale, and freeing up philanthropy for those areas where pure philanthropy or government funding is the only way.

    Social Ventures in the Stax DevCorp Portfolio

    • Edco is putting a development office in the back pocket of every student and volunteer fundraiser, team, club and school, and creating an important and fun educational experience for students. “Ask smart, and ye shall receive.” - Edco
    • Ultra Testing is an innovative software testing company that employs individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders who have the exact skills needed to be exceptional software testers.
    • Benestream helps employers and unions access available government benefits for employees and union members.
  2. Meaningful insights. We generate independent research and insights on national subjects of interest, with an emphasis on identifying root causes of troubling situations and how best to drive better outcomes with lower cost.

    Insights Published on Issues of National Interest

  3. Direct financial support and pro-bono work. We provide money and services to support non-profit organizations about which we are passionate.

    Direct Financial Support and Pro Bono Work

    • Global Startup Labs (GSL) - Stax Colombo, in partnership with MIT, advises teams in the GSL competition in Sri Lanka. This competition creates opportunities for technology entrepreneurs in developing countries.
    • Bronx Lab School (BLS), New York - Since 2008, Stax has worked with this public school as part of NYC’s small schools program. Stax has provided everything from pro-bono support on improving operations, running events, raising funds and contributing funds directly, to assisting in implementing major technology upgrades for the school. Most recently Stax initiated, financed and helped implement a pilot e-reader program for the 9th grade which is now expanding.
    • Army Emergency Relief, U.S. - AER's sole mission is to help soldiers and their dependents. Stax assists AER financially and communicates their excellent work to colleagues and business partners.

Global Startup Labs (GSL)

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For the past four years, Stax Colombo has partnered with MIT, advising teams participating in the annual Global Startup Labs (GSL) competition in Sri Lanka. GSL is designed to create opportunities for technology entrepreneurs in developing countries—teams have a matter of weeks to design a high-quality product, before presenting to a group of angel investors on the lookout for high-potential startups. Stax’s mentoring not only helps these entrepreneurs prepare for the investors, but also provides valuable insights on how best to launch their products into the market.

This year, teams of mentors – consisting of Stax professionals with backgrounds in research, consumer insights, finance, and data analysis–worked with the GSL entrepreneurs in the weeks leading up to the investor pitch. By assisting the entrepreneurs in building their revenue models, delineating value propositions, and better understanding market trends, Stax prepared them for not only the tough questions potential investors ask, but for a smoother product launch.

Stax sponsored a demo event in July 2014, in partnership with GSL and SLASSCOM. Several investors and industry experts came to see the entrepreneurs’ presentations and to provide actionable feedback. The startups showcased on the day were targeting a range of fields from education to fashion to food. The event was a success—not only providing a forum for entrepreneurs to pitch to investors, but also being a celebration of the achievements and the potential of the GSL entrepreneurs in a tough market.

Bronx Lab School (BLS), New York

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The Bronx Lab School (BLS) is an innovative public school in the Bronx, New York, which has achieved a stunning turnaround. In the early 2000s, before BLS was founded, the on-time graduation rate for the previous school in the area had been around 20%. In less than a decade,
BLS’s on-time graduation rate surpassed 90%.

Stax has been involved in supporting BLS since 2008. Key efforts have included working with the principal to create a prioritized set of needs—a school shopping list. Stax’s activities with BLS have involved serving as a fundraising partner for improvements at the school, securing funding to update school technology, contributing funds to update a music program, improving the college placement office, and providing services to assist BLS in implementing an e-reader pilot program.

This e-reader pilot kicked off in the Spring of 2014. During this pilot Stax worked closely with BLS leaders in selecting and procuring iPad mini devices for 130 students, procuring an e-reader platform, training teachers, implementing the program, and measuring the results. Both students and teachers reacted extremely positively, and follow-up surveys show that students read more frequently. Learning also became more interactive, with students using their devices to make annotations, followed by feedback from teachers. This program is being continued and the results are being published so other schools can learn from Stax’s e-reader experience at BLS.

Army Emergency Relief, U.S.

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Some years ago, Rafi Musher heard Ben Stein, the economist and writer, mention how we don’t take sufficient care of our military personnel—financially speaking. Since that time, Rafi and Stax colleagues have used our research and due diligence capabilities to find organizations like Army Emergency Relief that assist our servicemen and women with financial issues.

Additionally, we are working with various corporate and non-profit partners in setting up a nationwide framework for matching returning soldiers and veterans with appropriate employment opportunities.

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