Thanks to the incredible enthusiasm of our pro bono consultants and clients, and the support and leadership of our sponsors, partners and advocates, yesterday Taproot Foundation was honored to receive the California Social Innovation Spotlight Award. This award is California’s most prestigious award for volunteer service, given to an “extraordinary organization that is innovative in how they invest in service and volunteerism” as part of the Governor and First Lady’s Medals of Honor for Service.
It’s a privilege to receive the California Social Innovation Spotlight Award
This recognition comes on the heels of the completion of our 1000th project, and has given us yet another reason to celebrate the traction gained in spreading the pro bono service ethic beyond the legal profession to the fields of marketing, design, strategy, human resources, and IT. An excited group of Taproot staff and board members traveled to Sacramento to attend the award ceremony (and of course, catch a glimpse of Austrian Bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-Civic Leader, Governor Schwarzenegger.
It is a privilege to receive such an honor in California, the first state to elevate the role of volunteering and service to a cabinet-level position. As First Lady Maria Shriver put it, “when you sit at the Governor’s table, people take you seriously – they listen .” In the Bay Area and Los Angeles, Taproot Foundation has been fortunate to capture the attention of thousands of business professionals eager to give back to their communities by donating their professional skills. We’ve worked with hundreds of nonprofits in these regions to ensure that we are providing the solutions they need most – and have been privileged to form partnerships with the foundations and companies who have been inspired to make our work possible and begin their own pro bono programs.
Bridging a crucial resource gap
The First Lady co-presented the award with the nation’s first-ever Secretary of Service, Karen Baker, who praised Taproot for “bridging a crucial resource gap by allowing professionals to apply their talent in service to their community.” Taproot President Aaron Hurst was on deck to accept the award, fresh off a flight from New York- a town which was in need of some “California love” when he moved there to lead the pro bono movement in Taproot’s first east coast office.
In his acceptance speech, Aaron spoke about his inspiration for launching Taproot Foundation: The frustrations he faced early in his career while working with countless organizations with brilliant ideas, extraordinary motivation, and the audacity to want to change the world. But, “they fundamentally lacked the resources to do it.” So he asked himself, “Where is the greatest place for innovation in the –” and before he could finish the sentence he was headed west to California (as a fellow east-coast convert, I can identify with this sentiment.) As Aaron put it, “California stands out as the place with incredible innovation, and also incredible hope- which is what drives innovation.”
Less than ten years since awarding our first Service Grant here in California, to be on stage with those critical players is an enormous honor for Taproot Foundation and all our partners in the pro bono service movement. This monumental accomplishment underscores not only the tremendous impact of pro bono service on California’s nonprofit sector, but also the meaningful work we’ve done in shifting the paradigm of pro bono service beyond the legal profession to be an integrated part of all careers. We are so excited and honored to have been selected.
Taproot President Aaron Hurst delivers acceptance speech alongside California Secretary of Service and Volunteerism Karen Baker and California First Lady Maria Shriver.
California Secretary of Service and Volunteering Karen Baker talks with Taproot Executive Director Western Region Joel Bashevkin.
Kate Wilson is a Western Region Senior Development Associate at Taproot Foundation.