#How Adobe employees have been giving back to their communities

How Adobe employees have been giving back to their communities

For those of us working at home, I’m willing to bet that it has instilled tremendous gratitude for two things: pajamas and PDFs. Whether you’re a lawyer or accountant, marketing manager or sales exec, Adobe Acrobat, along with Adobe’s suite of other products, has proved indispensable — especially sans office printers.

“We are fortunate to be in an industry that is not as heavily impacted as some [by coronavirus-related layoffs]. Indeed, our software has never been more critical than today,” says Ann Lewnes, Adobe’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, who will be a keynote speaker at Brands Across America on June 5. “We are committed to keeping businesses up and running, students learning, creatives creating, and governments connected to their citizens. As challenging as these times are, we are blessed that our mission has never been more relevant and that our products make a meaningful impact in the lives of so many people.”

From Photoshop to InDesign, Dreamweaver to Flash Builder, Adobe makes working from home easier. Now, the San Jose, California-based software company is also going above and beyond to make life a little bit easier for those in need across the country.

“To date, Adobe has committed $6 million to support our local and global communities, including giving to organizations providing essential needs like the International Red Cross, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, American India Foundation and the Akshaya Patra Foundation,” says Lewnes. As part of this initiative, a $1 million fund has been created to go toward projects made by members of their creative community. All visual creators can apply to the fund.

Ann Lewnes
Ann LewnesAdobe

Since March, employees have raised over $1.6 million through Adobe’s two-to-one employee-matching grants program. In addition, staffers have virtually volunteered nearly 25,000 hours to nonprofits since the pandemic’s outbreak in March.

And just because the world as we know it has come screeching to a halt, that doesn’t mean creativity should. To that end, the company has gifted 30 million students with free Creative Cloud subscriptions, offering more than 20 desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more.

The company’s employees, too, have played a key role in fostering imagination and artistry to help self-expression thrive during quarantine life. Since March, many Adobe employees have stepped up to share their talents with their communities, as illustrated by the following examples.

Take Kyle Webster, an illustrator at Adobe based in Winston-Salem, NC, who, with his team created Draw Along with Kyle Webster, providing drawing classes for children to enjoy virtually, helping to both spark ideas and teach new skill sets.

“There are several reasons why creativity plays an important role in times like this” says Webster of his thrice weekly YouTube drawing classes. “First, the mental-health benefits of engaging in creative project work, which includes anything from a 10-minute origami folding session to a four-hour stretch of painting on canvas, have been proven time and again. Making things is meditative and healthy — creative thinking often leads to innovation and solutions to problems.”

Based in Salt Lake City, Brandon Pack, director of software engineering, and his wife, Mindy, a vocal coach and singing specialist, partnered with their good friend Dr. Reena Gupta, an ENT physician working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles.

As they witnessed how musicians were being impacted by the coronavirus crisis, they self-funded a virtual choir project to bring attention to the MusiCares COVID-19 artist relief fund, providing singers with a paid gig. Within days of making their announcement, they received over 200 virtual auditions.

Reflecting on the experience, Pack says, “For the team, these submissions highlighted how strained musicians are right now. This project helped artists cover bills or pay for meals. But crucially, it also allowed these creative individuals to connect with their art, share their talent with the world, and prove that this pandemic would not silence their voices.”

Indeed, their voices resonated as powerfully as ever, with the virtual choir performing a beautiful cover of composer Scott Alan’s “The Distance You Have Come,” edited and produced by Australian actor and singer, Ky Baldwin, using software donated by Adobe.

Then there’s Jonathan Lancar, engineering manager, who has worked tirelessly with his wife, Genevieve, to 3D print and assemble face shields for medical workers across the Bay Area. Since they started in March, they have printed, assembled and delivered over 600 shields to front-line personnel, with some going to other parts of California, Arizona and New York.

“We have learned a lot along the way and I can only be grateful for how Adobe has handled this situation,” Lancar says. “It has truly inspired us to follow our leadership and take action.”

Health care workers wear face shields 3D printed and assembled by Adobe engineering manager Jonathan Lancar and his wife, Genevieve.
Health care workers wear face shields 3D printed and assembled by Adobe engineering manager Jonathan Lancar and his wife, Genevieve.Courtesy of Adobe

We’re also moved by the example of Kavita Mittal, who’s a group product manager in the Bay Area. Along with her two sons, Kavita made homemade masks to donate to the Good Samaritan Hospital. Determined to do more, she decided to share her skills online and made an instructional video (using Adobe products, of course) to show others how they can easily make their own creative masks at home.

“It’s a drop in an ocean, but hopefully the cheery prints will make someone less stressed and keep our folks at the front line a tiny bit more protected,” says Mittal. “I am so happy to be part of Adobe, that makes software to allow people to take their inspiration to fruition, sharing and hopefully, proliferation.”

For people at home who want to get involved with Adobe’s community support projects, they have also launched an #HonorHeroes campaign, helping to bring a bit of joy into the lives of men and women who do so much for us, by celebrating their achievements.

“Creativity has the power to bring us all together even in the most challenging times,” says Lewnes. “Everyday people are doing extraordinary things. Health-care workers, first responders, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, mail carriers, supermarket staff, school teachers and thousands of other essential workers have been working tirelessly to keep us all safe. We’ve partnered with iconic artists from around the world to honor these workers and volunteers, telling their stories through personal creative tributes. We have been so moved by the work we have seen from our community. We just released a film that highlights some of the work from this campaign.”

Kavita Mittal, along with her two sons, made homemade masks to donate to the Good Samaritan Hospital in the Bay Area.
Kavita Mittal, along with her two sons, made homemade masks to donate to the Good Samaritan Hospital in the Bay Area.Courtesy of Adobe

To submit your own creative message of gratitude, use the hashtag #HonorHeroes when posting on social media.

Our war against this virus makes this much clear: Creativity endures during adversity, and perhaps the most valuable of Adobe’s multipronged relief efforts is nurturing that light inside of all of us. For now, for tomorrow, and for the young Picassos they’re igniting, one digital sketching lesson at a time.


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