Groupon Welcomes Girls Who Code

GWC x Groupon

The day has come where we welcome twenty of the best and brightest rising high school juniors and seniors from Washington, Idaho, Kentucky, and Arizona for seven weeks of coding and mentoring through the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program!

The girls will spend the next seven weeks in our beautiful Seattle office receiving an intensive intro to coding concepts through languages such as Scratch, Python, C\C++, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and fun applications like video games, robotics, and web development.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from some of our very own. We’ve matched students with female employees so they can be mentored by other strong women in technology. Additionally, the girls will have the chance to hear from Grouponers in a speaker series covering a wide array of topics such as life as a developer at Groupon, empowering women in technology, and the concept of regular expression patterns.

And because they don’t have enough to do, the girls will apply what they’ve learned and build something of their very own as part of a team project. Projects that have come out of past summer immersion programs include Tampon Run, a video game to take the taboos out of menstruation, and jackALERT, a jacket that lights up when one feels like they are in a potentially harmful situation.

The culmination of all the girls’ hard work will be presented in a graduation ceremony hosted on Thursday, August 11th at the Seattle Public Library. We invite all Groupon employees, friends of the program, and lovers of technology to join us as these new Girls Who Code alumnae share their projects with the world!

Groupon’s partnership with Girls Who Code is part of our larger commitment to STEM education and closing the gender gap in the engineering and technology industry. Led by the Social Responsibility and Talent Development teams, this is Groupon’s 2nd year partnering with GWC. You can read all about last year’s program — hosted in Chicago — and see for yourself what an amazing opportunity this program is for the girls and the volunteers alike.

Groupon’s partnership with Girls Who Code is part of our larger commitment to STEM education and closing the gender gap in the engineering and technology industry. Led by the Social Responsibility and Talent Development teams, this is Groupon’s 2nd year partnering with GWC. You can read all about last year’s program — hosted in Chicago — and see for yourself what an amazing opportunity this program is for the girls and the volunteers alike.

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Diversity at Groupon


Diversity continues to be a hot topic in the tech community.

And for good reason: most tech companies want more diverse employee populations.
Groupon is no different.

We’re pushing hard to increase employee diversity at Groupon and have made solid advances over the past year.

Today, I want to update both our diversity statistics, as well as the programs we have in place to continue the momentum we’ve seen since our last report.

First, though, let’s take a step back and talk about why we think increasing diversity in the workforce is important. Some talk about diversity as if its value is self-evident. But that sells the topic short.

There’s value to the larger conversation when companies talk about diversity in terms of leverage — e.g., how and why diverse communities can be a force multiplier for their businesses. And there’s value to the larger conversation when we’re more expansive with the definition of diversity: race and gender diversity are important pillars, but so too are veteran status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, nationality and parental status, among others.

Here are just a few of the reasons we’re focused on diversity:

Groupon’s merchants and customers are a melting pot of countries, cultures, backgrounds and upbringings. Having a diverse workforce helps us better relate to and serve those perspectives. It allows us to step beyond just being a customer-focused company; a diverse workforce gives us the opportunity to truly connect with our customers and the communities in which they live.

How that plays inside the company day-to-day is that diversity brings viewpoints and ideas to the front that may not have otherwise been considered and that can accelerate innovation. A more diverse workforce can bring a different kind of idea to the table, and that can net more good ideas and more great things for our customers.

Even with work to do, we see the benefits of diversity in product design, in user experience and in our sales calls at Groupon. This matters for our culture and our business. It’s not some box ticking initiative… we’ve learned from other areas of our business that bolting on foundational elements doesn’t work. We’re making progress because we’re continually integrating diversity into all parts of our organization — from hiring, to training, to retention, to career development, to reporting.

All that said, here are Groupon’s updated diversity statistics. We know there is room to grow, but we are making progress thanks to the commitment and the work we’ve done to make this a core part of our business.

Let’s dig in:

Global Diversity | March 2016

Global Gender

Male 53.38%

Female 46.62%

Leadership

Male 84.25%

Female 15.75%

Tech

Male 83.9%

Female 16.1%

Non-Tech

Male 48.97%

Female 51.03%

US Diversity | March 2016

US Ethnicity

Leadership

Tech

Non-Tech

Overall Diversity

Women in Leadership
Global Numbers

Net + 54%

Women in Leadership
Global Percentage

Net + 19.2%

Women in Technology
Global Percentage

Net + 13%

Overall Ethnic Diversity | US

Net + 57%

Black and Hispanic/Latino Diversity | US

Net + 62%

What we’ve done isn’t as important as what we’re doing. To that end, here are a few of our key focus areas:

  • Continue to expand our sourcing efforts with diverse communities

    We are focused on establishing stronger relationships with diversity networks, organizations and schools. Many talk about a “diversity pipeline” issue, but we think that’s only a challenge if you artificially constrain where you look.

  • Enhance leader capability

    While diversity works best as a core value that’s spread throughout an organization, there’s no denying that leaders play a key role in the success of diversity initiatives. Equipping leaders to champion diversity efforts begins with helping them understand potential institutional and personal barriers. To that end, we’re working with Paradigm on training for managers across all our functions to raise our cultural awareness and remove potential barriers to inclusion.

  • Continue to support STEM education and women in Tech

    We’ve established strong partnerships with great organizations like Girls Who Code, Grace Hopper and Chi Ladies Hack. In some cases, these have a longer-term focus on developing future generations of diverse talent, but — in all cases — they’re deserving groups we’re excited to work with.

  • Maximize the role of our Employee Resource Groups

    Our ERGs — Women@Groupon, Blacks In Groupon, Parents@Groupon, Pride@Groupon, and Veterans For Groupon — are passionate cultural ambassadors both inside and outside of Groupon. We want to help these groups be even more effective in recruiting and retaining talent, as well as in telling the Groupon story.

  • Remain thoughtful about how we select, develop and retain talent

    This one is pretty simple. We’re enhancing our Human Resources tools and practices to ensure that we nurture talent across the company and that we provide meaningful careers for everyone — including our diverse populations.

We haven’t cracked the code on growing diversity at Groupon, but we’re working on it, and — most importantly — we’re making progress. Hopefully, our path is one that others find useful.–RW–

These Cities Are on a Roll – The Top Sushi-Loving Cities in America

Get your chopsticks ready – Saturday, June 18 is International Sushi Day. To celebrate the occasion, Groupon is honoring the Top 10 Sushi-Loving Cities in America over the past year. And we know sushi––having sold enough rolls to line up end-to-end for 670 miles.

Compiling our ranking required several long nights working through boatloads of raw, nori-wrapped sales data. Our findings were calculated using sushi deal sales over the previous 12 months, balanced against the subscriber base of each city, providing the following ranking:

1. Memphis 2. Louisville 3. Kansas City 4. St. Louis 5. Minneapolis
6. Boston 7. Cleveland 8. Houston 9. Baltimore 10. Salt Lake City
Memphis claims our top spot, lead locally by the very popular 45% off deal at Akita Sushi and Hibachi Steakhouse. Perhaps Midwest cities should have more rolls named after them, with St. Louis (4), Minneapolis (5) and Cleveland (7) all claiming spots in our ranking. The “Cleveland Roll” sounds delicious.

From Anchorage, Alaska, to Washington, D.C., Groupon customers can find a great deal for International Sushi Day in just about every major city in America. Check Groupon for some inspiration on how you can celebrate Saturday in your neighborhood.

Majority of Parents Have ZERO Activities Planned with their Kids this Summer

If Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, then why do the majority of  parents have no activities planned for their children once they’re out of school? And do you fall into this group? Well, you are not alone.

According to a recent nationwide survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by Groupon, 57 percent of respondents said they had absolutely nothing planned for the family this summer. Which is baffling, considering that a whopping 99 percent of those parents DO want to do something fun and exciting with their kids over the summer months.

Parents were also asked in the survey what the perfect summer looked like with their children, and the results were expensive. According to respondents, the idyllic summer consists of: six BBQs/dinners out, five movie/beach outings and two overseas trips. Though respondents reckon that the total cost for those experiences would come in at around $43,154.87.

“Many parents aren’t aware of the number of affordable local activities they can do with their children over the summer months,” said Greg Rudin, head of fun things to do at Groupon. “By taking full advantage of the amazing things to do around their neighborhood, building long-lasting family memories can be done on just about any budget.”

The average family will travel nearly 600 miles together over the summer, according to the survey, with most vacation destinations between four and five hours away by car.

A day at the beach was considered the top family activity, followed by visiting an amusement/water park and having a classic backyard cookout.

Most – 85 percent – look for vacation activities within their home state. Parents in the West were most likely to want to take their children overseas with those in the Midwest least inclined to do so.

When it comes to travel outside of mainland USA, the Bahamas and Australia are among the dream destinations.

Unsurprisingly, the internet is the top source of inspiration for summer vacation ideas, ahead of word of mouth and traditional advertising, the survey revealed.

The survey also reported that parents are now looking to give their children experiences rather than gifts – and said their kids were 18 times more likely to benefit from an experience throughout their entire lifetime than a toy.

“Research has shown that people increasingly value experiences over material things, especially with friends and family,” Rudin said. “Now is the perfect time to get out there and create those memories by trying something new that you’ve always wanted to do together.”

Top 10 Essential Family Summer Activities

  1.   Beach
  2.   Water park/amusement park
  3.   BBQ
  4.   Out of state visit
  5.   Movies
  6.   Road trip
  7.   Hotel stay
  8.   Camping
  9.   National monument visit
  10.   Fishing

Top 10 Dream Family Vacation Destinations

  1.   Hawaii
  2.   Disney World
  3.   Bahamas
  4.   Australia
  5.   Washington DC
  6.   Miami
  7.   New York City
  8.   Virginia Beach
  9.   Canada
  10.   Japan           

For inspiration on some great things to do with your family this summer, click here

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The Fittest Cities in America

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated May 8 – 14, 2016, as National Women’s Health Week, and Groupon is celebrating the occasion by honoring the fittest cities in America over the past year.

‘Fitness’ encompasses a wide range of activities, and local pride is strong — it’s not nice to step on the toes of someone doing a perfect Warrior I. Fortunately, the leader in local commerce, with its mountains of local deals data, is happy to stair-step up to the challenge.

We tabulated Groupon sales figures for everything from boot camps and boxing to yoga and zumba over the last 12 months, accounting for the size of a city’s subscriber base along the way, to arrive at our second-annual fittest cities in America rankings.

America’s Fittest Cities

  1. Albuquerque
  2. Memphis
  3. Omaha
  4. New Orleans
  5. Louisville
  6. Oklahoma City
  7. Providence
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Tallahassee
  10. San Diego

Albuquerque, one of the top cities in last year’s ranking, continues to be a warm weather fitness mecca for Groupon customers. Cities in Southern states ran away with our rankings, represented by Memphis (2), New Orleans (4), Louisville (5) and this year’s Florida standard-bearer, Tallahassee (9). Finally, San Diego, a city you are not at all surprised to see in our rankings, ensured that California was not shut out from this year’s list.

Congratulations to the communities on this year’s list! Groupon invites everyone to check out our amazing local health & fitness deals on the way to a healthier you.

 

 

Say Happy Mother’s Day with a 3-D Printed Model of Yourself

Many people don’t get to spend enough time their moms, which is why Groupon is offering an exclusive Mother’s Day gifting opportunity that will leave the woman who raised you feeling like you never left. Through Groupon, SWIGRO, a 3D printing manufacturer in based in Auburn, Ala., and official distributors of the BigRep ONE the largest 3D printer on the market, is offering one person the chance to create a “3D You” version of themselves for Mom for $30,000. Once your 3D You is delivered, Mom will be able to take you along for all of her favorite activities and experiences such as getting a pedicure, going to lunch or attending a Broadway musical.

We’re thrilled to offer one person the opportunity to give Mom what she loves most: endless quality time with her children. With a 3D You, Mom will always have your undivided attention and support even when you can’t be there.”

The entire 3D You Mother’s Day package entails:

  • Life-size, painted 3D You
  • Travel to establish framework and blueprint for 3D manufacturing (up to $2,500)
  • Shipping and handling to anywhere in the continental United States

Other suggested activities for you and your 3D You:

  • Savasana (corpse) yoga poses
  • Blink-free family photos
  • Couples massages
  • Tandem skydiving
  • Trapeze classes
  • Tubing down a lazy river

To view the complete Groupon Mother‘s Day Gift Shop, please visit the Mother‘s Day tab in the Groupon mobile app or http://gr.pn/mothersdaygiftshop.

Dear Stockholders

In 2015, Groupon continued on its mission to become the daily habit in local commerce — making some of our most significant progress on this front in our seven-year history.

We introduced 1.5 million new customers to our marketplace, we added more than 300,000 active deals to our platform, and we continued to make strides in local and mobile commerce with more than 100 million transactions occurring on a mobile device.

Customer Growth

We also hit the reset button in some key areas. We made a series of fundamental changes to the business, reprioritized aggressively, and implemented a new strategy that we believe sets a stronger stage for long-term success.

Even as we endured some short-term bumps in the road, we moved quickly and decisively because we believe the opportunity in local is simply too vast, our overall operational advantage too strong and our team too talented to let competitors or markets dictate our path. While we have not always done a good job of telling our story, I am energized by our progress and leadership position and look forward to spending my first full year as CEO building on our momentum.

Taking a Step Back

Before going further, I’d like to take a step back. What do we mean when we talk about the “opportunity in local”?

Local commerce is a multi-trillion-dollar global economic engine, and it’s proven to be among the last spaces to benefit from the internet and mass mobile adoption. There are tens of millions of diverse small businesses around the world, and for the most part they have yet to be fully connected to and enabled by technology. And they’re all looking for customers.

The vast majority of these merchants aren’t marketers by trade. They’re largely living out their dreams of making great pizzas, giving amazing massages or helping people discover the world around them. Even when they have the expertise, many lack the time and resources to effectively market their businesses.

Groupon was built around connecting small businesses with consumers at scale. Combining our loyal and active customers with our local marketplace has proven to be one of the most effective small business marketing channels ever — one that comes at no up-front cost to merchants, and yet has resulted in billions and billions of dollars flowing into small businesses and neighborhoods around the world.

No one has proven to be more effective at coupling relevant local offers with high transactional intent. And we’re only getting better, having evolved from a daily email company to a largely mobile marketplace with tremendous scale and a number of levers business owners can use to grow and succeed.

Given that we are just seven years old, and given the millions of merchants and hundreds of millions of consumers with whom we’ve yet to work, we see the opportunity as vast, our team talented and our competitive position strong.

Building the Daily Habit in Local

So what then does it mean to build the daily habit in this vast local commerce space? Our roots as the daily deal email company are fundamental — it helped make the Groupon brand a household name and synonymous with saving money. Few brands ever achieve that kind of position or equity, let alone in seven years. The downside is that as we’ve expanded our value proposition and evolved beyond the daily deal email business, we didn’t bring customers along with us as quickly as we could have.

Being the daily habit in local means that customers don’t just wait for their morning Groupon email — something that tens of millions of our customers do every day — it means that they think of Groupon when they’re hungry, when the kids are bored and need to get out of the house, or when they need a manicure or haircut. That habit will be reinforced by our customers knowing that they’ll find amazing value on Groupon, whether that value comes in the form of a great discount or via being able to make an appointment and tip and pay at a small business without touching a wallet.

Achieving our mission means that Groupon is a transactional and marketing engine for local commerce. It means bridging a vast white space that many internet and mobile technologies have yet to reach. It also means so much more to the communities in which we operate.

While building the daily habit could very well mean that Groupon becomes an even bigger business and creates a lot of shareholder value over time, it should also mean that we’re making a significant positive impact on neighborhoods around the world. We believe that winning in local means that small businesses are winning, which matters on a level much deeper than dollars and cents.

Money into Local

Small businesses are the economic backbones of the neighborhoods we live in. They are also job creators, meeting places, cultural hubs and, occasionally, local legends. They are at the core of what makes “your” neighborhood special and often times what keeps your neighbors employed. We shouldn’t — we can’t — lose that. Groupon is committed to giving small businesses the tools to do more than compete — we’re here to help them grow and win. When that happens, we all win.

Focusing the Business, Driving results

When I took the CEO post last November, I focused the business on a few key initiatives. I said that we would streamline how and where we do business, that we would dramatically increase our customer acquisition efforts and that we would move away from empty calories — those low-margin product categories that drive short-term revenue but fewer long-term benefits — particularly in our shopping business. For 2016, we added making dramatic improvements to the customer experience to our priorities.

Our most significant changes in 2015 involved how and where we operate. We became a leaner, more efficient and productive company as we took a hard look at where it made the most sense for us to do business.

One Billion Groupons

At the beginning of 2015, we operated in 47 countries. By the end of 2015, we operated in 28. We took a broad approach to this initiative. In some cases we found partners to help fund future investment in markets we think have great promise. In some cases we streamlined the business to focus on local businesses, rather than products. In some cases, we exited a market entirely, simply because winning there did not deliver long-term returns or justify the short term investment. In all cases, we focused and rationalized the business, creating regional shared service centers for our deal factory and customer service groups in order to generate operational leverage and a more consistent customer experience.

When complete, we will have a geographical footprint and operating model that we believe is significantly more sustainable.

We also made a strong bet on the future of Groupon — our customers. Simply put, we had not grown our new customer base at a rate commensurate with the potential of our marketplace. In the second half of 2015, we began to significantly expand our customer acquisition efforts to better match supply and demand on our platform. We decided to invest an additional $150 to $200 million in marketing to better match customer demand with the growing supply of deals on our platform. This work will continue throughout 2016, but the early results confirm that people everywhere are looking for great value, and looking to Groupon to deliver it in a local, relevant way better than anyone.

Next came our Shopping business. It is a growing part of the Groupon experience and something our customers consistently tell us is interesting, fun and a trusted source of value. However, we had also become too reliant on what I call “empty calories” — those product categories that generate short term revenue gains, but less in the way of long-term customer loyalty or support. We decided to move away from these items and focus on the categories that generate healthy margins and bring customers back to the site again and again. We made strong progress here, even through the price-competitive holiday season. 2016 is off to a good start as well.

Making the Customer Experience Great

We spent 2015 focused on the fundamentals — three key areas where we could quickly make bold moves to drive the business over the long term. In 2016, we intend to make dramatic improvements to the customer experience. As we add tens of thousands of merchants to our platform, as we drive millions more customers to our marketplace and as we make our shopping category a true advantage for us, it is imperative that we make the total Groupon experience unmatched.

While we have made improvements, today’s core Groupon experience isn’t all that different than it was a few years back. Consumers and merchants still experience too much friction when redeeming a Groupon. Expirations still vex customers and pose a barrier to new purchases. Our customer service levels must catch up to the expectations our customers have for our brand.

Our advantage here is that we have cemented our position as a leader in mobile commerce and a trusted mobile utility for our customers. Groupon was one of the first large-scale ecommerce companies to be predominantly mobile, and now nearly 60 percent of our global transactions occur where we are a clear leader: on mobile devices, all around the world.

Old VS New

Our opportunity is to bring a better mobile product that more closely matches the current and future use cases in local — with a low friction buying and redemption experience supported by amazing customer service. We began this work in 2015, but we expect the payout will be seen in 2016 and beyond. Delighting customers isn’t a one-year proposition. It’s an every-year requirement and one we plan to fulfill.

The Road Ahead

Shortly after taking the CEO post, I acknowledged that the path for pioneers is rarely easy. It is difficult — but also hugely rewarding — to be first. That remains true for Groupon. There is much work left to do, but we have already made tremendous strides in just seven years toward becoming an indispensable asset for consumers seeking value and for small businesses seeking exposure. We believe no other company is poised to better connect these two groups, and the potential in doing so makes any challenges well worth it.

Fortunately, the Groupon team is purpose-built to meet these challenges. I am incredibly fortunate to work with a group of talented and dedicated people who truly care not just about building a great company but also about the consumers, businesses and communities we serve.

The first company to truly bring local commerce into the online world — to be the app for Main Street — will be a very special thing. Groupon continues to march closer to this goal. In 2015, we learned some hard lessons and made some hard decisions, but we also made real progress. It is still amazing to me to think that in just seven years we’ve sold more than a billion Groupons and are a part of everyday local life for tens of millions of customers and hundreds of thousands of merchants. In 2016, our goal is to accelerate our progress and add even more value to our customers’ lives, which is central to generating long-term shareholder value.

I continue to believe that focusing on our four strategic priorities — which ultimately are improving the fundamentals and delivering a great customer experience — are the key to faster progress. So far that focus has delivered a Groupon that is stronger, leaner and faster today than it has been in a very long time. We are steadily improving and our marketplace is developing faster than ever. We have the people, a strategy we believe in and more hard fought experience in local than just about anyone. We also have a mission with impact potential that far exceeds our customer, merchant and shareholder reach — a fitting reward for a pioneer in a space this vast.

We never expected that winning in local would be easy — there simply are no silver bullets in this space. But we do expect to continue to build on our momentum with ever-improving execution. It’s a challenge we gladly take on every day. Thank you for joining us on this journey.


Groupon’s Record-Breaking Black Friday

With another Black Friday weekend in the books, it’s obvious that shopping has become nearly as identified with Thanksgiving as family and food. It’s become part of the holiday and the weekend — an event almost unto itself.

At Groupon, we love this weekend. (For that matter, we love Black Friday week — the competitive drive seems fixed on making everything start a little earlier every year.) Technically, it’s the same thing we do every other day of the year: connect customers with amazing value and great deals. It’s just on steroids during Black Friday weekend, and I’m excited to report another record-breaking year.

For the full Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend, Groupon’s North American billings were up 41% compared to last year, and customers purchased 52% more Groupons over the four-day weekend than in 2014. We’re grateful for the support of our customers and thankful for the opportunity to serve them.

Every year, more and more shoppers are starting with Groupon to save money on their shopping and to find something for everyone on their list. There’s a reason Groupon has been routinely listed as a top shopping destination for the weekend this year — because it’s true. We put together an amazing array of deals and ultimately customers agreed. That’s hugely gratifying for our team that’s been working nonstop to build our marketplace.

Like other e-commerce sites and retailers, physical products led the weekend. Given the size of our marketplace, and our team’s ability to uncover hidden gems, I’m always interested to see which deals customers discover at scale. Based on our sales data, a ton of people can expect to find NFL scarf and gloves sets, Apple EarPods and Apple Lightning charging cables, wireless bluetooth anti-loss key trackers, planetarium night light projectors, Wallet Ninjas, shower speakers, 1,200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets sets, Swarovski Elements necklaces and unbreakable flying helicopters in their holiday hauls this year. I mean, who doesn’t need a ninja in their wallet?

But Goods is only part of the story. Local can win on Black Friday weekend, too.

On the same weekend that the National Retail Federation announced that online shoppers eclipsed brick-and-mortar purchases for the first time ever, Groupon saw a tremendous appetite for local experiences. Over the weekend, more than one in every four Groupons sold was for a restaurant, salon, spa or other local merchant.

That’s the power of a marketplace. That’s the power of our marketplace.

When we talk about the opportunity in Local, and when we talk about Groupon’s role in driving success for small businesses, this is what we’re talking about. We’ve seen first hand that local businesses can compete in an increasingly connected world and against online giants. We’re focused on enabling that competition.

As more and more shopping occurs online, few are as well positioned as Groupon to help local merchants successfully bridge the gap and use the power of our platform to drive physical traffic, awareness and purchases. Groupon’s local commerce marketplace offers local businesses the ability to ride the wave of online shopping, rather than be crushed underneath it.

Black Friday weekend may be behind us, but our work is far from done. We still have millions more gifts to deliver, amazing deals and customers to serve. We also have many more opportunities to give thanks and to help those in need. So please join us in celebrating #GivingTuesday, as we partner with Operation Warm to help provide winter coats to families in need. To donate click here.

Congrats to the Groupon team and our merchants. It was a big win for everyone this weekend.


Groupon Volunteers Travel to Nicaragua with Spark Ventures

This fall, Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program teamed up with Spark Ventures to send six employees on an impact travel experience to Nicaragua. Employee volunteers were awarded the chance to travel with Spark as the winners of our annual Very Serious, Super-Competitive Employee Volunteer-a-thon.

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Our week in Nicaragua was filled with good food, beautiful sunsets, and even better company of the children and staff at Las Tías. Las Tías is a secular, nonprofit organization operating in León, Nicaragua. Las Tías was started by 8 women merchants in 1989 to serve vulnerable children in their community through nutrition and educational programming. Through their 23 year history, Las Tías has served 850 adolescents and 1,060 children.

Each morning, we kicked off the day with a Spanish lesson and little history of the Nicaraguan culture that we would soon be immersed in. We spent the beginning of our adventure at the youth center of Las Tías where they serve up to 80 students, ages 6-13, at any given time. The Grouponers were draped in kids and had so much fun helping them  practice their colors and numbers in both Spanish and English. The girls loved braiding the female volunteers’ hair, and the boys kept the male volunteers busy (and sweaty) by climbing their shoulders to play “lando lando” (tag). After a couple fun-filled days with the students, we got to spend one of our last evenings with “the tías”, who run the organization, to share a homemade Nicaraguan feast and learn a little bit of the native dance to the beat of a Spanish-translated “I Will Survive.”

image1-5One employee, Kevin Tanko, said of the experience:

“My favorite part of the trip was working and playing with the children – practicing English with the kids and playing games with them was so powerful. It was quite eye opening to see the scale of the poverty in the country; and even though they don’t have much, the students were always happy to see us smiling, laughing and just being kids. We had the opportunity to visit a student’s home on Day 3; it was a surreal experience to see how the kids at Las Tías live day to day and the struggles that they face.  

It’s difficult to explain this kind of experience in words, but the takeaways of a trip like this are more of an emotion than anything. The level of poverty is nothing like I’ve ever seen before, and I’m so thankful for what I do have. It inspires me to do what I can to help improve people’s lives no matter where I go or where I’m at.”

After our time at Las Tías, we got down to business – Groupon travelers learned all about the incredible work that Spark Ventures is doing behind the scenes to develop sustainable business ventures, creating a stable source of revenue for the organization to support their work and expand their impact in the local community. Next summer Spark volunteers will be planting 85,000 cacao trees, plantains, and chilies to add to the existing 36 (soon to be 100) beehives already on the farm in northern Nicaragua. The revenue made from the investment in the farm will support the work of Las Tías to help vulnerable children reach their potential.

Aside from the volunteer component of the trip, we did get to have a little fun of our own! Grouponers spent the afternoons doing various activities such as: hiking up an active volcano, kayaking through the mangrove forests of Isla Juan Venado nature reserve, “volcano-boarding” down Cerro Negro, zip-lining on the crater of Mombacho, and a boat tour through the islands of Lake Nicaragua.

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Groupon is proud to help people and communities prosper by concocting a secret formula of employee do-goodery, responsible business practices, customer collaboration, and nonprofit investment where our employees live, work, and play.
Want to travel with Spark Ventures? Learn more about how to get involved with this great organization here!

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