Partnerships are an integral part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ success. There are the matches created – the mentoring partnerships that change children’s lives and that are the focus of BBBS’ work. But there are also business and community partnerships that support and advance the agency’s work in a variety of ways.
The most powerful of these partnerships are those in which our partners engage with us on multiple levels, bringing a range of personal and professional resources, skills and expertise to bear. One such partner is Austin-based commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.
Cushman & Wakefield in Austin was formerly known as Oxford Commercial and was started in 1993 by people who feel strongly about investing in the community. “As a business we have a responsibility to give back,” said Ford Alexander, executive managing director, Cushman & Wakefield. “We are fortunate to be leaders in the community and to make a good living here. It is our duty as leaders to help those who don’t have the same advantages we have. Helping others creates a stronger community and greater opportunities for us all.”
“Ford and his corporate family are models of philanthropy in that they have engaged with our organization and our work in so many ways over many years,” said Brent Fields, CEO of BBBS. “Ford has been a Big, a Board member and a donor. His company has supported our organization through financial contributions and by lending their professional expertise in the real estate field. They are champions for civic engagement and they understand the importance of investing in youth and supporting community needs.”
The former Oxford Commercial gave a portion of each real estate transaction they closed to non-profits. “We invited our clients to choose which non-profits they wanted to support with a donation on their behalf from our company,” said Sonia Houston, Director of Broker Resources. “It’s a more personal way to engage with our clients and work together to support our shared community.”
BBBS is, and has been, a recipient of this generosity. “With the incredible impact it’s had on the lives of thousands of young people in the Austin area, BBBS has always risen to the top of the non-profits I support. I’ve experienced the joy of working directly with BBBS in many capacities and I’m thrilled that my company can also join the cause through our corporate giving program,” Ford continued.
Ford’s personal involvement with BBBS began when he was a student at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. “I was in a fraternity and I decided that we needed to get involved in the community,” Ford explained. “I knew of Big Brothers Big Sisters, so I got half a dozen guys from our organization to become mentors with me. I was matched with my first Little Brother for two years and it was as rewarding for me as it was for him. That one experience led to my decades of proud support for BBBS and its mission.”
When Ford returned to Austin to finish his college degree he continued mentoring with BBBS, once again bringing friends into the organization as volunteers. As he moved into the business world, just like his company, Ford found new ways to engage with BBBS.
“Ford has stayed engaged with our mission over the years,” Fields added. “Not only has he brought his personal passion and commitment to our work, he has also brought his company’s philanthropic spirit and its professional expertise to the table to help us address organizational and operational needs.”
“His company recently contributed to the success of our 2016 Amplify Austin fundraising campaign, and the organization is involved in helping us sell our current property as we prepare to move to our new mentoring center site,” Fields explained.
Marketing manager Tony Napolillo says that it was the commercial real estate company’s commitment to helping the community that influenced his decision to work for the company. “I was extremely impressed with the company’s philanthropic efforts and with the impact they have,” Tony said. “These folks are helping BBBS provide mentoring services to young people in Central Texas that truly change lives. That’s significant and I’m so proud to work for an organization that is a champion of this important cause.”
“There are a lot of ways to get involved with BBBS in addition to being a Big,” Ford continued. “You can teach a class, give money, help with events or, like us, offer your business skills and experience. Every individual’s and organization’s talents can be put to good use.”
Ford Alexander and Cushman & Wakefield are partners who are truly making a difference… for BBBS and for the community as a whole.