What happens when a Deloitte Digital studio member armed with a passion for giving brings a fundraising idea to its Pioneer Square studio? Fun and philanthropy ensue.

Deloitte Digital’s Nancy Martira, of the Pioneer Square studio, was looking for a local organization to help kids going back to school when she came across Project Cool. The organization was a great way to give back in the very neighborhood we work in, as DD's Pioneer Square studio is close to the organization’s homebase.

"I don’t have children, so I get to snooze right through the back-to-school shopping frenzy. But this year I wondered how I could take advantage of the sales in this key retail moment to get school supplies to kids who really need them. There are many programs across the country, but Project Cool has a great reputation and they have such an established tradition in Seattle."

Nancy Martira

Project Cool is a program of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. This year, Project Cool served nearly 1,500 pre-K through 12th-grade students who access services at 17 agencies providing support for homeless children and families in Seattle and King County. Every homeless student who receives a new backpack filled with school supplies can walk into class with the same new tools as their classmates and feel confident and prepared. The team at Project Cool also trains teachers and social workers to understand the signs of kids in crisis and educates them on homeless students’ educational rights.

Nancy assembled a group of seven studio volunteers to execute a nine-day Deloitte Digital Project Cool school supply drive. To make this more interesting – because who doesn’t love friendly competition – we split the studio into five teams to compete for the most “gold stars” by filling up bins with school supplies. Teams came up with a name –“Hot Breakfast” and “Prairie Whales” were a couple of interesting ones—and some team leads (we’re not naming names) even bribed their teams with promises of homemade baked goods if they donated enough supplies to fill their bins!

Each day team members would check the “report card” in the kitchen to see which team was in the lead, and they were quick to point out if they were owed a “star.” We had so many packages coming to the office from the Amazon wish list we set up that we had to warn all our regular mail carriers. Cash donations also earned “stars.”

To celebrate the Project Cool drive, we held a “Hall Pass” happy hour on the final day. Treats included throwbacks to elementary school with Lunchables, Rice Krispies treats, Fruit Roll-ups and Capri Sun (remember those?). Games were held and “stars” hung in the balance as teams competed in team mascot drawing, mini-Deloitte tower-building out of toothpicks and marshmallows, and a buzzword spelling bee. The finale was counting up the cash donated for each team. The team that had been in first place was quickly kicked out of the running, and the team that had been in last place won!

Project Cool was a fun way for the Pioneer Square studio to learn about and get involved with a local organization. Also, who can’t have a good time while shouting out buzzwords, making beautiful buildings out of marshmallows, and eating goldfish crackers while drinking a Capri Sun? Most importantly, we were able to donate seven large boxes of school supplies and over $1,100 in cash to Project Cool. #DDImpact

If you want to learn more about The Seattle/King Country Coalition on Homelessness’ Project Cool initiative, check them out here and here.