So you want to change the world? At American Eagle Outfitters, so do we. Our corporate responsibility and charitable projects are headed by the AE Foundation. Marcie E., Director of AE Foundation, sat down to talk to us about the different projects the foundation is working on and how she got her start working with non-profits.
How did you get involved in a charitable foundation career path?
I started my career at the Make-A-Wish Foundation raising funds at schools and colleges to fulfill wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. It was amazing to see the kids come together to help other kids in need. When the former director of the AE Foundation announced that she was leaving, I sent her an email and told her that I’d love to have her job. Luckily, my non-profit experience and degree in public management made me a good candidate.
What makes a charity right for American Eagle Outfitters to work with?
First, we reach out to our customers to find out what causes and charities are most important to them. In a recent survey, customers told us that the environment and education were causes they felt most passionate about. Once we have a cause in mind we try to support charities that involve youth in our customer demographic. For instance, we support the Student Conservation Association which is a national conservation force of high school and college students who render two million hours of service annually to the preservation of America’s public lands. AEO is the presenting sponsor of SCA’s Alternative Spring Break program.
What has been one of your favorite projects with the AE Foundation?
A few years ago we helped Jumpstart launch their Read For the Record program. Last year, our customers and associates helped Jumpstart reach more than 2 million children reading the same book on the same day to break the World Record and bring awareness to the crisis in early childhood education. Jumpstart strives to give low income children the skills they need in the hope that one day every child in America will enter school prepared to succeed.
How did AE Foundation become involved with Bright Pink?
Our former Chief Financial Officer was one of the founding board members of Bright Pink. She introduced us when we announced that we were looking for a charity that supported the prevention of breast cancer in young women. The good work they were doing was a perfect fit for Aerie.
What are some exciting projects coming up with the AE Foundation?
AE is supporting the One Young World event in Pittsburgh this month. One Young World is the premier global summit for leaders in their 20′s. Nearly 1,500 young leader ambassadors from 190 countries will come to Pittsburgh for One Young World on Thursday, October 18 through Monday, October 22. Modeled after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the delegates will discuss the most pressing issues of the day including education, sustainable development, human rights, global health, leadership, and governance and transparency. President Bill Clinton will be giving the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony. More info can be found at www.OneYoungWorld.com.
What’s the coolest place you’ve traveled with your job?
Last summer I took two AE store managers to New Orleans to install recycled denim insulation in a couple Habitat For Humanity Homes. The insulation was a result of our Old Jeans, New Hope denim recycling drive which occurred in AE Stores last October. We collected 61,672 items of denim which produced enough insulation for 123 Habitat For Humanity homes. It was an amazing experience to see New Orleans seven years after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the houses in the 7th and 9th wards were still boarded up. While we were there we got to meet the woman who will be moving into one of the Habitat houses this fall. Check out the video of our experience on our Youtube page.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to work with charities as a career?
There are a surprising number of non-profit job opportunities in our country. If you love giving back and think you might want to get in to the non-profit sector I’d suggest volunteering and getting as much experience as you can. Keep in mind that non-profit organizations need all types of skilled and professional workers with expertise in areas such as accounting, information technology, fundraising, communications, marketing, etc. You don’t need one specific major or degree to find a job in the non-profit sector.
What are your personal favorite charities and volunteer opportunities?
I like to support environmental organizations and charities that assist people in third world countries. Lately, I’ve been trying to get my young sons involved in giving back. Our last volunteer project was with an organization called Family Promise and we spent an evening playing with the kids from a homeless family.
How can customers or associates get involved with AE Foundation?
We sponsor several opportunities throughout the year for our customers and associates to engage in our charity efforts and we will be posting even more opportunities on a regional level in 2013. The best way for customers to get involved is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out what’s happening and join us.
What are your other interests or hobbies?
I have 4 little boys at home so most of my free time is spent with them. When I do get a little time to myself, I enjoy running and reading.