A shared commitment to racial justice has led to a relationship between Mastercard and YWCA Dayton. Facilitated by Pyxera Global, an organization that helps build “mutually beneficial partnerships between the public, private, and social sectors,” the virtual Pro Bono for Racial Justice project paired five Mastercard employees with YWCA Dayton to share resources, knowledge, and skills this spring.
YWCA Dayton was selected as one of three organizations nationwide to benefit from Mastercard’s In Solidarity program, the company’s five-year commitment to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap by investing in Black communities across the United States. The program matches Mastercard employees from various locations (YW’s cohort included employees from New York, Virginia, St. Louis, and Chicago) and roles, from risk assessment to marketing, with participating nonprofit organizations.
Focused specifically on three of YWCA Dayton’s program areas (Girls LEAD!, domestic violence shelter services, and racial justice advocacy efforts), the cohort used their skills to develop a market assessment and business plan, which outlined potential opportunities, funding sources and risks associated with each program. Much of the cohort’s work centered around identifying potential revenue streams for YW’s new 20-acre Huber Heights Campus and the potential racial justice programs it hopes to conduct onsite.
Over the course of seven weeks, five Mastercard employees volunteered their time to develop a series of deliverables, meeting weekly with members of YW’s development and advocacy teams for feedback and support. Throughout the process, YW staff were available to share resources, answer questions and serve as a sounding board for any of the cohort’s ideas.
“The chance to work with employees of a Fortune 500 company like Mastercard exposes us to fresh perspectives and gives us an opportunity to engage new audiences around the critical work of racial justice,” said Marshall Weil, director of development and corporate giving for YWCA Dayton. “The cohort’s proposal offers a solid framework that will hopefully be the first step in a long-lasting partnership and endless possibilities for YWCA and the greater Dayton community.”
Tracey Cannon, product delivery analyst at Mastercard, who, because of her interest in the In Solidarity program, was among the 15 employees nationwide to participate in one of the three inaugural Racial Justice Pro Bono Project cohorts.
“The entire process of collaboration was a great experience, particularly during the heightened virtual environment of the pandemic,” Cannon said. “Being able to work with people whom I had never met, but who made great team members due to shared interests, was a great experience, both professionally and personally.”
Along with completing project deliverables, Mastercard employees participated in racial justice training through YW, which included April’s 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge. In alignment with the goals of Mastercard’s In Solidarity program and YW’s mission to eliminate racism, participation in the 21-Day Challenge allowed members of the cohort an opportunity to dig deeper into the issue of racial justice and better understand the need for the programs they were working with as part of their business plan and assessment.
“The work is huge because the need is huge,” Cannon said. “Despite the widespread media attention to issues of injustice, deserts still exist where people and systems do not acknowledge the impact of non-participation or accountability. Because of this, efforts to address any aspect of injustice and equity are critical to the potential for change.”