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Giving Back as We Grow: Deepening Our Commitments to the Bay Area

Erin Baudo Felter
Erin Baudo Felter
Executive Director of Okta for Good

San Francisco Skyline

We’re celebrating two exciting milestones at Okta this week: the company turns 10 and we’re officially open for business at our new San Francisco headquarters. When my team found out about the move a little over a year ago, aside from the obvious excitement, we had some important questions. What community issues were impacting our new neighborhood? How could a company like ours show up as a neighbor and partner? Was it possible to not just maintain our commitment to the community, but actually deepen it as we grow?

Those questions guided our conversations with Bay Area community partners over the last year. Four themes emerged: 1) with Bay Area rent prices soaring, nonprofits continue to struggle to find affordable space; 2) the private sector, and tech in particular, can do more to create pathways into jobs for local, under-represented talent; 3) companies should be going deeper with volunteering to support unmet needs around board placement and capacity building for nonprofit staff; and 4) in an uncertain policy landscape, funding  — in particular unrestricted funding — is critical to empowering  nonprofits to be nimble and adapt to changing needs. 

Underlying all of this is a regional crisis of affordability and deepening inequality. As a business headquartered in San Francisco, we know that our success and health is deeply linked to that of our community. That’s why today we announced that Okta for Good is committing $500,000 over the next four years to Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit organization that finds and funds the most effective organizations, programs and policies fighting poverty in the Bay Area.

We have a long-standing relationship with Tipping Point. The Tipping Point team was instrumental in helping guide Okta’s early social impact work when we joined on as a member of SF Gives in 2014. They connected us to incredible nonprofits like Year Up, OneDegree and Mission Asset Fund and provided a powerful platform for us to learn from other companies. We have always admired the rigor with which Tipping Point approaches its investments and their commitment to providing unrestricted funding and capacity building support. We also appreciate their willingness to go deeper and bigger when the issues demand it — as they are doing with their $100M initiative to cut chronic homelessness in San Francisco in half by 2022. Poverty and homelessness are issues we want to stick with for the long-term, and we know that Tipping Point is the right partner to turn our commitment into meaningful change.

In addition to this grant, our team is also committing to:

  • Opening our doors. In light of the challenges nonprofits face in finding affordable space, we’re making shared community space available in our office for nonprofits to use for events and meetings at no cost.
  • Offering inroads and job opportunities to members of the community. We’ve seen great traction with our workforce development initiatives, bringing in hundreds of students and jobseekers for exposure visits and seeing our managers and teams create new internship positions with local partners like GenesysWorks, Year Up, Students Rising Above and JVS. We want to keep widening those pathways and making more connections into the community. We’re excited to be joining Mayor London Breed’s Opportunities for All initiative to expose San Francisco high school students to work experiences and will bring on a cohort of students this summer.
  • Deepening volunteer engagement with local nonprofits. All Okta employees have 3 days off per year to volunteer, and new employees in our San Francisco office volunteer on their second day of work, a program we are expanding globally this year. With that as our foundation, we’ll continue to push employees toward deeper, more long-term engagement around capacity building support and board service. Underpinning all of this is education and a commitment from us to work with partners like Tipping Point to ensure employees have opportunities to learn about and address local issues.

One my favorite things about these commitments is that they are things any company, of any size, can do. In fact, we’ve taken inspiration and learnings from many of our tech peers in building this framework. It may not be possible to make a large grant or to create an entire internship program right away, but perhaps you can offer a conference room to a nonprofit for a meeting, or host a group of students for an afternoon. There are so many places to start.

We are thankful to the Bay Area community for being “home” for Okta over the last 10 years. And, alongside our community partners, we’re hopeful for what’s ahead in the next 10 and beyond.

To learn more about Okta for Good, visit: https://www.okta.com/okta-for-good/

erin
Erin Baudo Felter
Executive Director of Okta for Good

Erin Baudo Felter is the founding Executive Director of Okta for Good, Okta’s corporate social impact initiative. She is charged with leveraging Okta’s most important assets – our people, product and company resources – to accelerate the impact of mission-driven organizations around the world. Erin has worked at the intersection of business and social impact for over a decade and has held various corporate social impact roles at Zynga, Yahoo and Warner Bros.

Erin holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a BA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is personally passionate about justice and equity in education and serves on the advisory board for Citizen Schools California. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and two young children.