DISCO Cares: To Help is Human

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At our core, we are meant to help each other. It is that simple.

We are living through some interesting times, hopefully the once-in-a-lifetime kind. However, on a daily basis, we are witnessing some of the raw, intrinsic qualities of humankind. In particular, we are seeing individuals, communities, and companies stepping up and taking action. 

We would like to share some short reflections on how some individuals are stepping up to make the world a better place. So far this year, over 175 DISCO employees have paid it forward through our DISCO Cares initiatives, supporting causes in education, basic needs, and human services — including over $50,000 in employee lead contributions, and over 150 volunteer hours. We’re super proud of our DISCO team, and wanted to highlight a few of our employee’s stories: Caroline Hall, Julio Colby, and Chiara Vega, as well as one of our DISCO Cares partners, Matt Stephenson.

Matt Stephenson, Executive Director of Code2College

First, I’d like to highlight my friend and mentor, Matt Stephenson. We met in August of 2018 and his actions of resilience, fortitude, and compassion inspire me on a daily basis. 

Matt and his family left the NYC area after paying their dues in the financial services industry and relocated to Austin to fulfill their true passion and purpose: helping underprivileged students. In 2016, Matt and his wife Kathleen started Code2College, whose mission is to dramatically increase the number of minority and low-income high school students who enter and excel in STEM undergraduate majors and careers.

Matt is the type of leader that everyone gravitates towards. He is humble, he listens with the intention of learning and bleeds empathy. His determination to follow his passion is intoxicating. But what inspires me most is his ability to make everyone in the room smile and feel comfortable. 

Through their approach of education, exposure, and experience, Code2College enhances student preparation for rigorous, technical careers and mitigates some of the key factors around STEM attrition. With over 50 corporate partnerships, Code2College provides leadership programs, workshops and mentorship to help students advance their STEM passions. 

In 2016, Code2College served 30 students. In 2019 that number was 549 and today...1000. Talk about impact! And I know they are just getting started.

Here are a few resources to learn more about Code2College:

  • VISION 2024 (Launched last month, this is an amazing initiative to place 200 Black and Latinx women into STEM roles by 2024)
  • Virtual Volunteering (Code2College has been offering a variety of virtual volunteer opportunities for years, but now hosts large-scale virtual volunteer events monthly, as well as ongoing opportunities including instruction, mentorship and professional development. If interested in engaging your workforce in virtual volunteer opportunities, contact Matt Stephenson at matt@code2college.org to schedule a Volunteer Recruitment Lunch & Learn.)
Matt Stephenson (foreground) with Vivek Sagi, CTO of RetailMeNot, Inc., and his son picking up 50 donated, wiped laptops to reimage each of them with an OS and all the apps necessary for students in need.

Caroline Hall, DISCO Client Advocacy Manager

DISCO All-In for Charity Poker Tournament

Caroline has been an instrumental member of the DISCO Cares team since her first day at DISCO. Whether it is in San Antonio, Houston or here in Austin, Caroline can be found at a DISCO Cares volunteer event. Today, we would like to thank Caroline for leading the charge for our first DISCO All-In for Charity Poker Tournament. Forty-seven participants raised $10,000 across 30 charities. That includes $4,000 to Feeding America to provide 40,000 meals to families in need. I’m sure there will be more DISCO All-In for Charity Poker Tournaments in our future!

Julio Colby, DISCO Services Operations Analyst

Julio's haircut

Julio has been with DISCO since the summer of 2017. Julio was our first intern and with two summer internships under his belt, he joined DISCO full time after graduating from UT. 

Julio began growing his hair out at the beginning of 2018, and two years later was able to get the special haircut pictured here — eight braids he donated to Locks of Love. “It's really nice to know that this former piece of me is bringing joy to some kid somewhere,” he told me. “It's a reminder to be mindful of our various privileges that we can so easily take for granted.”

An amazing example of the intrinsic value of humankind. Julio, thank you!

Chiara Vega, DISCO Strategic Account Manager

Based out of Chicago, Chiara has been an integral part of DISCO Cares since its founding. Every holiday season, her family is one of the first to adopt children for the Angel Tree Program, and she is also an active supporter of Make-A-Wish. 

Chiara and her family launched the first DISCO Cares activation in Chicago along with Swim Across America.  An organization near and dear to many, including Chiara, Swim Across America hosts Charity swims with the proceeds funding life saving cancer research and clinical trials.

This will be our second summer supporting this cause for cancer awareness. Given current events, Swim Across America is offering a virtual “Coast to Coast” Challenge as a way for swimmers, volunteers, family, and friends to continue to support research at Rush University Medical Center. The challenge consists of a virtual activity tracking and fundraising challenge where participants will work together to travel across America to support cancer research. Participants can choose their own activity (walk, bike ride, run, swim or any favorite physical activity in any safe location) and goals that will support Team SAA-Chicago move across America. You can even log cancer treatment hours! The virtual route will travel to each Swim Across America open water event city (21 “stops”) for a 7,686 mile journey. Chiara, thank you!

Hopefully these examples are an indication of great things to come, as we continue being resilient, maintaining our fortitude, and reminding ourselves of our intrinsic compassion. After all, at our core we are meant to help each other. To help is human. 

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James Buck Bracey IV