Photo Courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois from their Lumity One Day Innovation Challenge.
As we close out our last week in the Techweek Gives campaign, we are taking a moment to truly reflect on all the amazing moments, service projects and community that this 90 days of giving brought to our tech ecosystem here in Chicago. We are particularly grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with so many organizations and companies who are committed to doing so much good locally, not just over 90 days, but truly every single day to make our city better.
One of our favorite moments during the campaign was watching how companies continued to find innovative and unique ways to bring community impact to their employees through hands on volunteer experiences. We recently caught up with Steve Betts, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, whose team hosted an amazing hands on service event with a group of high school students from Lumity (local STEM education nonprofit organization) for a day long health care hackathon-style challenge back in May.
Read on for more from our interview with Steve and to learn about how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois leverages community giving as a vehicle to investing in the workforce of the future.
- What motivates Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois to give back in the community?
SB: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has been serving the people of Illinois for more than 80 years – it’s where we live, work and play. Our employees volunteer in support of community health initiatives and partner with civic and nonprofit organizations across the state – in fact, we spent nearly 50,000 hours volunteering in 2016. A big focus of ours is demonstrating our commitment through efforts that focus on expanding access to care, increasing health equity and improving population health.
- Can you talk a little bit about your partnership with Lumity? What has been meaningful about supporting their work and building relationships with them over the years?
SB: Lumity is an organization dedicated to exposing young people in Chicago to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Since 2015, we have collaborated with Lumity on STEM talks, career site visits and real world projects that help students prepare for future careers. BCBSIL has a vested interest in STEM programs to help us cultivate the workforce of the future.
- Can you tell us a little bit about this great day-long event you held in-office on May 13th?
SB: We were proud to host the Lumity One Day Innovation Challenge, where we gathered more than a dozen high school juniors and seniors at BCBSIL headquarters in Chicago to work with IT and business leaders to complete an IT change-based project. The project required students to create an innovative mobile app concept utilizing a transformative technology (Internet of Things, Mixed Reality – VR and AR Technology, & Self-Learning Systems) to create affordable health care solutions for BCBSIL’s members.
What have been some of the most rewarding outcomes of getting your employees involved in Lumity’s work? Have you seen a direct correlation to talent engagement and otherwise?
SB: STEM is a passion area for many of our employees. We use that passion and translate it into our STEM volunteerism as a key contributor to our social responsibility commitments. Lumity is a prime example of that passion in action. As one of our STEM community partners that benefits from our matching dollars program, we granted Lumity $2,000 based on the number of volunteer hours dedicated to Lumity STEM activities by our employees.
- What responsibility do you think companies have in creating tangible impact in communities through volunteerism and giving back?
- SB: BCBSIL has a strong commitment to its communities and members by working toward a “healthier Illinois.” In 2016, employees volunteered nearly 47,000 hours of their time at corporate-sponsored events and volunteer opportunities. We hosted 32 donation drives for employees to collect items such as food, clothes and school supplies for those in need. Our employees donated more than $395,000 through annual giving campaigns and supported multiple health-related events through the year, from walks and runs to blood donation drives and more.
- Why is supporting STEM education programs here in Chicago such an important mission and focus of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois company culture?
SB: STEM education programs impact communities by closing gaps in education disparities. It creates opportunities for young people and for our business – BCBSIL is in competition for talent and our involvement in STEM helps us remains visible and competitive by developing a diverse and robust talent pipeline of professionals. We have a team is focused on identifying and leveraging STEM programs and partnerships across that are valuable and effective. The programming advances our diversity and inclusion and business objectives by identifying future diverse talent.
Thank you Steve and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois for your continued investment in our community and our future generation of innovators!
The Techweek Gives campaign, powered by uBack, is working to raise $1 million and commit 10,000 volunteer hours in 90 days. To learn more, click here.