Evo has created three community outreach programs to address the inequality globally and within their communities, through their Giving-Back Program, the Community Engagement Council, and the Volunteer Program. Each program has tackled inequality (SDG #10) and the opportunity gap that underprivileged communities face daily (SDG #11).
Seattle Pacific University
Millions of young people struggle with attaining higher opportunities due to a lack of resources that some of their peers have access to. This creates a wide opportunity gap among young kids due to their socioeconomic status. Many companies are attempting to shorten that gap and Evo is on that list.
Founded in 2001, Evo is a ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, skate, camp, and lifestyle retailer based in Seattle, Washington, with stores located across the United States and Canada. The company believes that there is a lack of accessibility to the outdoors and so with their purpose, “to ignite the adventurous spirit that lives within us all,” Evo heavily focuses on contributing to organizations whose core purpose is to serve the youth in this gap.
For instance, Evo has created three community outreach programs to address the inequality globally and within their communities, through their Giving-Back Program, the Community Engagement Council, and the Volunteer Program. Each program has tackled inequality and the opportunity gap that underprivileged communities face daily.
The Giving-Back program was created to bring aid to those around the world. The leaders at Evo invest in non-profit organizations that have the same values as Evo. Evo has invested in “programs and partnerships that help kids build positive skills and mindsets,” such as the Skate Like A Girl organization. (evo.com)
Likewise, Evo has also founded the Community Engagement Council, also known as the CEC, in hopes of giving back to underprivileged communities locally. While the Giving Back Program was created to help others world-wide, according to Ainsley McCullough, the Community Impact Coordinator, the “main purpose of the CEC is to bring that locally” (1:19 audio recording). In other words, the CEC’s purpose is to contribute to the individual stores’ communities. Every retail store in the various locations has its own CEC and from each council, an ambassador is tasked with finding organizations that serve the youth. Additionally, the CEC is also responsible for putting on events that give others a chance to enjoy a new sport or a new lifestyle. The CEC usually partners with other organizations to create these events and it’s the CEC’s responsibility to provide the location, volunteers, equipment, and money for their partnered organization for such events to occur. Most recently evo put on the “Skate Like a Girl” event in partnership with the Skate Like a Girl organization, as mentioned previously. This event was created by the Seattle location CEC. This event allowed anyone, especially young girls, the opportunity to skate. Evo provided all of the skating equipment and staff needed to assist the learners. The staff taught new participants how to skate and new techniques. The reason for these events directly relates to one of Evo's core values-Invitation. Evo wants to “share their passions and knowledge” while opening their gates to all those in their communities.
The Volunteer Program was created to push their employees into giving back to their local communities. The program offers evo employees Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO) to go out and support a cause that they feel is important to them. Not only are employees giving back, but they are also receiving “networking opportunities for employees to easily opt-in”.
The specific information on who was involved in the creation process and how the innovations emerged was not available to us. However, most of the beginnings of these programs were already thought about when Evo was first being started. Overall, by implementing the three community impact programs, Evo has indeed succeeded in their aim to “leverage [their] reach to positively influence the communities in which [they] live and play”.
The beginnings of the three programs were an extension of CEO & Founder, Bryce Phillips's vision since the beginning of Evo. Phillips originally didn’t grow up being involved with outdoor sports, however, he was exposed to it through his uncle and loved it. He eventually became a professional skier and started Evo after that. He wanted to create a company that helped people and communities go outside and have equal opportunities to experience outdoor recreation/sports, especially children who wouldn't have the opportunities otherwise. Bryce was quoted saying, “Using business as a medium to help others will change the world. It is not just an opportunity but absolutely critical if we are going to move the world in the right direction. Having been in our DNA since the very beginning, Evo strives to help youth with our time, financial resources, influence, and reach. This is integral to our success. In the coming years, we will work to ensure that the Evo brand is synonymous with our cause" (A. Miller). Overall, we believe that Bryce has done a great job accomplishing this mission by incorporating the CEC, Giving Back Program, and Volunteer Program.
The impact of the community outreach program at evo has surprised and surpassed expectations of how it has affected the business, society, and environment. As a company, evo has built its foundation upon three goals; building an iconic brand and business, creating an extraordinary place and path for its employees, and finally leveraging its success to give back to help and support underserved youth. According to evo's website, the success of the community outreach program is “integral to our success”.
Considering, the budget for the community outreach program directly depends on evo's revenue from the previous fiscal year/quarter, the outreach program has become a driving force for the company to profit and succeed. Due to this, many employees believe that generating money, means that they can help and create a greater impact on their surrounding communities, and particularly the immediate society.
The impact evo has on society is something that very few people have seen before. Ainsley McCullough, the Community Impact Coordinator of evo, has worked in the industry of community outreach for some time and agrees that the way evo helps is different and much more meaningful. The motivation to create a positive impact is demonstrated at all levels of evo. According to their three goals, they are proud that “having been in our DNA since the very beginning, evo strives to support youth-serving organizations with our time, financial resources, influence, and reach” (evo.com). evo believes that the youth in the outdoors sector is one of the most unserved and vital areas for the development of both the natural world and the youth. This is why evo focuses so much on serving the youth in all aspects. The community outreach program is so ingrained in evo's identity that some people want to work at evo not just for their position, but because of the outreach that they will be involved in.
evo’s stance on recognition for their community outreach and giving is much more on the silent side. They have a very hands-off approach when donating money and rarely want anything in return. This philosophy relates to their want to create relationships between the organizations they give to. There were multiple times during the interview that Ainsley brought up that evo does not want to be transactional with organizations, but rather relational. One organization that evo is heavily involved with is Outdoor Outreach, a company located in San Diego, CA that specializes in teaching diverse youth from underserved communities about the outdoors. They believe that “By increasing access to the outdoors for diverse youth from underserved communities, participants find and apply their strengths, and develop a new narrative of what they can do and be. Outdoor Outreach provides transportation, snacks/meals, equipment, and knowledgeable instructors at no cost to our participants, providing initial entry points to nature for youth who face multiple barriers to the outdoors.” (evo.com) (SDG #10) During last year’s Q2, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, evo was able to donate over $30,000 to this organization alone. evo’s goal to build a positive long-term relationship, rather than just a short-term connection, ultimately improves the effectiveness of their impact program and the outreach of those organizations.
Regarding the environment, most of evo’s identity is centered around the environment. Before COVID-19, the local staff at the Seattle store would often volunteer with. EvergreenMTB, a local company responsible for creating and upkeeping local trails. The improvement of the trails not only benefited the users but drew more people outdoors. Ultimately allowing them to see the first-hand beauty of nature, which hopefully encouraged changes in their own lives to help improve the environment as well (SDG #11). Considering, evo provides goods and services for outdoor activities, there are countless examples of places where evo’s environmental impact is incredible. However, as an outdoor retailer, it’s sometimes challenging to focus on other categories to help. This is where evo’s core values come into play, in that they are there to improve their overall community. Whether it be local communities, the employees, the environment, or large national non-profits, evo will do everything in its power to create a better world.
Through their intranet and word of mouth, the employees of evo have access to many ongoing events where they can volunteer their time and serve. Some of these opportunities include organizations like NorthWest Harvest and Code the Dream, where developers and skilled workers help teach immigrant workers basic computer technical skills. There are countless other opportunities available and it’s constantly evolving as more organizations find evo as a resource to help them prosper. Ryan Graue, a current employee of evo, said that. “As an employee knowing that there are so many ways to volunteer and help and knowing that the company as a whole prioritizes giving back even in financially rough circumstances, really gives the employees a sense of pride.” evo has also promised to match donations among all employees up to $250 to any charity/non-profit of their choice. This shows the employees that evo is doing something genuinely good and that their job at evo, is bigger than just making money. It is all about creating something bigger and bringing everyone together, it just so happens that evo’s medium for doing so is through the outdoors.
Evo’s “all about the people” mentality and their devotion to their communities have built a brand people are excited about. Through their CEC program, where funding is directly related to their profits, evo can contribute to the community while supporting their employees. This results in a warm atmosphere of happy and determined employees who want to continue building a strong community.
Since evo offers volunteer paid time-off, employees are encouraged and incentivized to seek out opportunities that matter to them. For employees, having the ability to fulfill their need of connecting to their community and being encouraged to do so is thrilling. But “There are lots of cool things evo does that they don’t talk about” (Ainsley). evo's 'do it for the cause, not the applause' mentality has empowered their employees to go above and beyond and find meaning in their work. Their supportive atmosphere has even led to organic partnerships. With evo’s gift matching program, if an employee wishes to donate to an organization, evo will gladly match their donation. There have even been times where an employee will volunteer and/ or donate at their preferred organization, which most times lead to an organic partnership. By investing in their partnerships and building meaningful relationships through volunteer work, evo’s employees are proud of the company they work for, and the impact they have in their communities. This further motivates them to continue working at evo and providing the best service to customers.
Along with highly motivated employees, evo’s CEC has built various partnerships and relationships with many communities. With an emphasis on “relational, not transactional experiences”, their employees enjoy being able to guide people into new experiences that they wouldn’t usually have or feel comfortable doing. Through the CEC, evo doesn't just involve youth by allowing them to become comfortable going outside but also giving them a space to connect with it. Then, by volunteering, employees can continue building relationships within their community, which is engraved in evo’s core values.
evo’s ground roots of being community-focused in their stores and activities don’t just stop there. The CEC explores collaborations between culture, sports, community, and sustainability. Through the CEC. evo plans to continue developing a sustainability model and is working on reevaluating a long-term sustainability plan. evo’s goal is to incorporate this by not just giving financially but doing more than that. Specifically, they are looking into incorporating carbon footprints in their plan because “The best carbon emission you can emit is the one you don’t” (Ainsley). It is only the beginning, but evo is setting the ground for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly business.
Ainsley McCullough, Community Impact Coordinator
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Seattle, Washington, US
Business Website: https://www.evo.com/
Year Founded: 2001
Number of Employees: 201 to 500