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More Than Cash – A Corporation Boldly Support the Arts

Michelle Mann

As the former Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Adobe, employees often shared with me their passion for giving back. More than just helping at the food bank once in awhile, they sought to spend time in the nonprofit sector, to make a difference.

Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to do exactly that and I’d like to share with you my experiences and view of the arts from a corporate perspective.

For the past six months, I have been a loaned executive to 1st ACT Silicon Valley, a catalytic organization whose mission is to inspire leadership, participation, and investment at the intersection of art, creativity, and technology.

Adobe’s former CEO, Bruce Chizen, had been a founding board member of 1st ACT in 2007 and the Adobe Foundation has supported the organization’s efforts to increase the vibrancy of Downtown San Jose (Adobe’s headquarters) and support the arts ecosystem.

Earlier this year, CEO Connie Martinez reached out to Adobe to request a loaned executive who could help them develop and launch a new initiative, the Children’s Creativity Network.

Having been involved both in 1st ACT’s early work and because I helped launch a global strategic philanthropic program called Adobe Youth Voices, 1st ACT wanted my help to leverage Adobe’s program to reach more young people in Silicon Valley.

The partnership is a win-win-win.

Adobe continues its commitment to local community interests including arts, and 1st ACT gets a strategic business plan to launch the children’s initiative. On top of that, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me personally to learn new ways to use my skills and experience in corporate philanthropy and social responsibility.

You are probably wondering, “How is this possible?”

Like all things — it’s about the relationships, but it’s also about being creative and identifying common interests and strategic alignment. Adobe shares 1st ACT’s urban planning agenda to create a more dynamic downtown — a sense of place with unique amenities that attract and retain top talent.

Adobe is also committed to scaling its philanthropic program throughout Silicon Valley. With 1st ACTs broad network, Adobe sees this is a smart investment to partner with other arts and culture organizations who can deliver creative programming without having to do it all themselves.

Adobe’s mission is to enable people and companies to create breakthrough digital experiences. Adobe believes that everyone has the power to create and that being creative is not confined to any one sector or profession.  This passion for creativity is what drives 1st ACT as well.

1st ACT is championing creativity for all the region’s children and youth. The Children’s Creativity Network will galvanize community-wide support and commitment to creative experiences as an essential building block for the future of Silicon Valley.

Adobe & 1st ACT are modeling creative partnerships that others in the Valley and around the country should consider when asking, “What can corporations do to help?”

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