by Chris Finley, CSR and Internal Brand Experience
2016 was one for the books – a year that was full of change. For me personally, it was a year of change, adaption and reflection, among other things. One change was taking the lead on our corporate Pizza Hut volunteerism program, now called “Life Unboxed Volunteers”, to fall in line with our new Life Unboxed employee promise.
From a business perspective, Pizza Hut believes it’s important for our Team Members to be tightly integrated in the communities we serve. In addition to strong volunteerism at the corporate headquarters, leveraging a network of 6,400+ restaurants positions Pizza Hut as a brand that can unlock potential throughout many communities across the U.S.
Project Volunteer Grants
The key component of Life Unboxed Volunteers in 2016 was the grant program, which enabled anyone in our company to apply for a volunteer grant and, if awarded, carry out the project with a nonprofit. With funding from the Yum! Foundation, Pizza Hut completed more than 20 grants in 2016. While we encouraged Life Unboxed Volunteer leaders to focus on literacy or in direct support of The Literacy Project, grants were funded to help organizations with a variety of causes.
Grant beneficiaries included Big Thought, Boys and Girls Club, Innovations for Learning (TutorMate), Little Free Libraries, Mi Escuelita Pre-school, Mission Waco, One Meal (an Australian nonprofit), Operation Gift a Smile, Orangewood Foundation, Project Angel Food, Second Harvest Food Bank, Shop with a Cop, The Healing Place, Uplift Education, Utah Food Bank, Vogel Alcove, and more. Causes included literacy, education, children social and character development, poverty, homelessness, just to name a few.
Life Unboxed Volunteers provided a boost in Team Member engagement and improved public relations, especially in our local communities. We even had local publications, such as the Miami County newspaper, run stories on Pizza Hut’s involvement in their local communities and the impact the volunteers have made in people’s lives.
Year-End Volunteer Grant Winners
The Yum! CSR team selected four year-end grants to award across all the brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Yum!). Two of the four winners were Pizza Hut Life Unboxed Volunteer grants including the largest grant, a $25,000 Platinum Grant benefiting Project Angel Food.
The Project Angel Food grant was led by Claudia Rocha and Elena Goodrich from Pizza Hut’s franchise American West Restaurant Group. Project Angel Food cooks and delivers over 500,000 nutritious meals each year, free of charge, to the homes of men, women, and children affected by life-threatening illnesses. This is the second year in a row that Pizza Hut has been awarded with the Platinum Grant.
A $10,000 volunteer grant was awarded to Little Free Library (LFL) for Lynda Carrier-Metz’s creative spin on the historic red roof. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. If (I mean when ☺) you visit a Pizza Hut restaurant in the future, you may see a LFL outside the restaurant. Feel free to partake and read or exchange a book. Lynda is the Chief Marketing Officer for Restaurant Management Company, another Pizza Hut franchisee.
The year-end grants will be used to strengthen each nonprofit’s mission and the partnership with our brand.
All said, 2016 was an amazing year of catalyzing the brand to new heights of giving back in local communities and leaving a lasting impact in the lives of many. So much so that we are now a finalist for the PR News’ CSR Campaign of the Year Award! Fingers crossed we win!