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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Donate to Your Local Food Bank This Thanksgiving

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In 2013, more than 49 million Americans—including 15.8 million children—were food-insecure, meaning they didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from. These people often had to stretch their paychecks to cover rent, transportation, and medicine, sometimes deciding between one necessity, such as heat, or another, such as food.

Thanksgiving kicks off the season of, well, giving. We’re happy to support local food banks so everyone can help fight end hunger together. Your donation of $10 goes a long way.

Placemaking, Community Development and Corporate Responsibility

Parking spots or People Spots?  Blank walls or murals?  Car traffic or foot traffic?  As cities continue to grow, these questions push the creative and effective utilization of public spaces to the forefront.  In response, government agencies, business associations and community groups across the country have embraced creative placemaking as a tool to mobilize communities and develop local economies.

Placemaking exists both in practice and philosophy, making it difficult to communicate an agreed upon definition and implementation strategy.  According to Peter Skosey, executive vice president at Metropolitan Planning Council, “It’s easy to see the block party, but it’s not easy to see the foundations of a more participatory community being laid.” Continue Reading

Broadway Cares Winnner Snaps Selfie Hedwig Star

Rebekah-Laurie-Neilposter3In June, we gave our customers a chance to win a trip to New York City, share a drink with Neil Patrick Harris and see the Tony-winning musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway. Donations went to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which supports people across the country living with HIV/AIDS. Broadway Cares works with more than 450 local organizations to ensure people living with HIV/AIDS have access to nutritious food, housing, and medical care.

We want to wish our winner, Laurie, congratulations! She and her daughter, Rebekah, got to see behind the scenes and snap a selfie or two with the show’s star.

Congratulations, Laurie!

Groupon Joins the Metropolitan Planning Council Placemaking Challenge

Have you heard of placemaking? Well, even if you haven’t, you may have seen the results of placemaking projects in your neighborhood. Placemaking is a grassroots movement to transform unused public areas into vibrant community spaces through lively events, art installations, gathering spots, and more. So a colorful wall mural, cafe chairs in a park, or a community BBQ could all be considered placemaking!

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 4.50.26 PMAs part of our commitment to local communities, Groupon is partnering with the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago for their 2014 placemaking challenge “Old Place New Tricks.” Groupon is currently running 19 unique Groupon Grassroots campaigns for participants in the 2014 challenge, allowing Groupon subscribers to donate to projects that range from transforming a vacant lot into Austin’s first “peace lot”, a permanent conflict-resolution space, to a bicycle-awareness event where residents can donate and purchase refurbished bikes and learn about bike safety.

Groupon employees are  getting in on the fun by transforming a vacant lot near Groupon’s River North headquarters into an art installation featuring portraits of community members. Volunteers are also constructing community ideas chalkboards that will be donated to every placemaking site.

IMG_20140811_120709999All events in the 2014 placemaking challenge are occurring during the weekend of August 15th throughout the Chicagoland area, bringing many Chicago communities together as they activate an unused space in their neighborhood. Participants are also eligible to win prizes of $1000 for their placemaking event, including the “Love Local” award sponsored by Groupon.

To learn more about placemaking visit the Metropolitan Planning Council’s website. Follow along on Saturday with #BeautifyChi to see our progress!

 

Social Innovation at Groupon

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Patty Morrissey, head of social innovation, leads the corporate responsibility arm of Groupon. She recently talked with Forbes about Groupon’s current crowdfunding campaigns and other social impact programs.

“If I were to tell you about a global platform designed to connect millions of customers with independently owned businesses, that generates local jobs, local wealth and local prosperity, you might think that I’m describing a B-corporation social enterprise, but that’s Groupon,” explained Patty Morrissey.

Rahim Kanani: As head of social innovation at Groupon, how would you define the scope of your work and why it’s important to the founders?

Patty Morrissey: Social change has always been important to our founders. Groupon was born out of a collective action fundraising platform, The Point. Today our leaders know that as the global leader of local commerce, we are also reliant on diverse communities of local businesses and engaged customers. We are invested in fostering the success of the communities where our merchants, customers, and employees live and work not simply because we care, but because our business depends on these communities.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Celebrate Pride at Groupon

851x315_social_pridedeals_dmAt Groupon, we love diverse, culturally rich communities because we know that these communities are good for our merchants and our customers. During Pride Month, we celebrate and bring awareness to the merchants, neighborhoods, and community groups that support and cater to the LGBTQ community all year round, adding diversity to the range of services and experiences offered in their community. These businesses and community centers are incredibly important, as they are often more than just businesses, they are places of refuge, places to create community, places to share stories, and places to build hope for LGBTQ people.10494417_10152479832995821_8141085900731322073_o

The gay rights movement started when a small group of people stood up for their rights and never stopped fighting. To contribute to the effort, Groupon employees have marched and signed open letters in support of marriage equality on both the national and state levels; participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s wear-red day; and formed an internal employee-resource group to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Groupon salutes our merchants and customers who support this effort and equality for all.

During this month of Pride we are celebrating in various ways: Our collection features local events, clothing, and products to complement any Pride parade or gathering. Plus, our employees rallied in all our offices across the globe wearing colors of the rainbow. Oh, and there’s a little opportunity for you to win a chance to win a trip to New York City, share a drink with Neil Patrick Harris and see the Tony-winning musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway. All donations will go directly to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which supports people across the country living with HIV/AIDS.Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 3.34.51 PMMore on Pride @ Groupon: Groupon is a proud supporter of our LGBTQ employees, merchants, consumers, and community. We scored 100% in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, making us a “Best Place to Work – 2014”. We also believe in advocating for the rights of all our employees, leading us to be public supporters of marriage equality and the federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act. Around the office our Pride@Groupon employee resource group hosts fun activities and educational events. And of course, you can look for our float in this year’s Chicago Pride Parade!

Put Your Ideas “On the Table” with Groupon and The Chicago Community Trust

Image Header_HorizontalWant to take part in shaping Chicago’s future? The Chicago Community Trust (CCT) is giving you the chance to do just that.

Groupon is partnering with the CCT for their On the Table initiative, which commemorates the Trust’s 99th anniversary. The event aspires to bring more than 10,000 Chicagoans together on Monday, May 12 to generate new ideas, inspire bold solutions and cultivate collaborations to improve communities throughout Chicago and the surrounding area.

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Interior of MK

As a company invested in the future of our home city of Chicago, we are offering On the Table dinners at select restaurants in the city through a deal that allows customers to purchase seats at 8- to 10-person community tables on May 12. Participating restaurants include MK, Bin 36, Cafe Absinthe, Piece Pizza, Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant, Cafe des Architectes, Carson’s Ribs and Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant.

To join a community table, simply search “#OnTheTable2014″ on Groupon beginning today to reserve your spot for May 12. Representatives from the Social Enterprise Alliance – Chicago, an organization that leverages its members to advance social change through their for-profit and non-profit work, will serve as a Groupon-sponsored hosts at each table to help guide the conversation. At MK, Lisa Kornick, owner, will lead the discussion.

“As a company born and raised in Chicago, Groupon is delighted to support The Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table initiative,” said Brad Keywell, Groupon board member and co-founder. “Getting people to band together around our local community has always been at Groupon’s core and holding these conversations over dinner at a local restaurant makes perfect sense.”

Following the event, On the Table participants will receive a simple email survey to share insights about their participation in this project, the interesting ideas they discussed and how this experience may influence their civic engagement moving forward. To capitalize on the power of these collective ideas, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) will then invited three-to-five participants with compelling vision and ideas for improving Chicago to take the CIW stage in October 2014.

To reserve a spot at an On the Table community table on May 12, search “#OnTheTable” on www.groupon.com. To learn more about The Chicago Community Trust and On the Table, visit www.onthetable2014.com.

Groupon Teams Up with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation on an Epic Deal

Win or Buy an Epic Trip to New Orleans to Attend Gala featuring Brad Pitt, Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon

806x806_socialFacebook_MIR_mbYep, you read that right. We are offering a deal of epic proportions—the chance to support a great charity AND have a chance to meet the charity’s founder, Brad Pitt.

Starting today, Groupon Grassroots is launching a campaign with Make It Right, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to build environmentally-friendly homes for people in need. The campaign allows you to donate directly to Make It Right, as well as enter the sweepstakes* to win the chance to travel to New Orleans and attend Make It Right’s gala, which includes performances by platinum-selling recording artists Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon.

Hosted at The Sugar Mill in New Orleans, the gala also includes a cocktail hour, three-course dinner prepared by the city’s finest chefs including Susan Spicer and Donald Link, local jazz musicians, gift bags and more. Additionally, schedule permitting, the winner has the chance to participate in a group meet-and-greet with Brad Pitt. To top off the weekend, the winner also gets a tour of the Make It Right homes with an award-winning architect. 100% of the donations from the Grassroots campaign go directly to Make It Right.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 4.36.41 PM“Through our social responsibility efforts, we’ve been helping build and support the communities around our thousands of local merchants since Groupon’s inception,” said Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky.  “By partnering with Make It Right we’re able to expose millions of people around the world to this important project and help the organization make a significant difference, one that should be replicated in struggling neighborhoods across the world.” Continue Reading

Shift Your Shopping is Supporting Local by Building Strength in Numbers

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 5.33.27 PMWhat would happen if Americans shifted even just 10% of the more than $500 billion dollars spent during the holidays to local, independent businesses? A $50 billion boost to local economies.

This is why, as the holiday season approaches and spending increases, buy local campaigns can have their greatest impact on local economies. Shift Your Shopping, a campaign representing 40,000 locally-owned and independent businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada, is working to encourage shoppers to shift a portion of their spending, starting in the holiday season, from larger retail chains to locally-owned businesses in their own communities. Based on studies conducted by similar efforts, they believe that this shift will “likely generate 2-3 times as much economic activity in our community than if we had spent our money at a national chain.” The goal is to empower residents to “ take job creation and economic concerns into their own hands by exercising their power to strengthen their own local economies.”

We all benefit from the diversity and personality of local businesses. This holiday season, Shift Your Shopping has launched their 3rd annual holiday campaign from November 1st to December 31st, asking consumers to keep those businesses thriving by shifting their holiday shopping to local retailers. The 2013 campaign is lead by local movement leaders The American Independent Business Alliance and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, in partnership with 160 local business organizations across North America.

The campaign offers education on the benefits of buying local, as well as ways for local businesses to participate in Shift Your Shopping, such as posters to display in store windows, images to share on Facebook, and logos to use in promotions during the holidays.

According to the Shift Your Shopping website, “A 2013 survey of Independent Businesses by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance showed Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy indie/buy local” campaign run by a local business/citizen alliance saw revenues grow 8.6% in 2012, compared to 3.4% for those in areas without an alliance.” The Shift Your Shopping team wants to engage local business owners and residents in the fight for the well being of their own communities.

As the Shift Your Shopping homepage reads, “We’re building a tradition that strengthens local economies, expands employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding shopping experience.”