Pepperidge Farm signed on in 2006 and has since created a special starfish version of its Goldfish crackers (based on imagery in a story that reflects some of the values on which City Year was founded; to read the stories, go to www.cityyear.org/foundingstories.aspx); provides resources and in-kind donations; and sponsors City Year’s “Starfish Corps,” which introduces elementary-school students to service.
And T-Mobile partnered with City Year to support T-Mobile Huddle Up, a community outreach program that connects mentors and resources with kids from single-parent families in high-need, urban communities. It also is City Year’s official telecommunications partner, and provides equipment and service plans to corps members and staff.
At the local level, the Team Sponsor Program allows corporate partners to sponsor the service of a group of diverse City Year corps members, and establish connections between the team, employees and families. Team members wear T-shirts identifying the sponsors and can engage in service opportunities and visits during the year.
There’s also a corporate option called Care Force, through which businesses can hire City Year to lead a day of service that unites employees, builds morale and leaves a lasting legacy for the community. Care Force projects generate good will among employees and in the communities in which they plant gardens, paint murals, renovate community centers and undertake other meaningful initiatives.
“[Corporate relationships] really vary all across the board,” Gordon explains. “In some ways, the highest profile partnerships really are our team sponsorships … where a company is branded in sponsoring a team. We will brand that team as Company X team, and we’ll put the name right on their City Year uniforms. As for our National Leadership Sponsors, I can’t say enough about the commitment that they have extended to City Year. In some cases, the partnership has huge visibility components to it (in addition to all NLS logos on team T-shirts), and, in other cases, it’s companies that are sponsoring large numbers of teams all across the U.S. In some cases, it’s the underwriting of our middle-school program. It may mean enhanced communication opportunities. It varies.