Corporate giving, at its best, focuses on improving lives and creating new opportunities for growth in underserved and neglected communities.
Recently, one of MCN Build’s Assistant Project Managers, Pranav Kulkarni, approached MCN team leaders about how he might donate his time as a tutor and mentor to students in his chosen field of engineering. Connecting him with our friends at Project NorthStar was the obvious choice, and just last week, Pranav was matched with George, a 7th grader in need of help with his STEM courses. Pranav is one of many examples of how MCN’s culture of giving is displayed through our employees and their actions.
The MCN Build Foundation builds community schools, shelters, libraries, and homes in the Mid-Atlantic region and worldwide. Our projects are sometimes small – painting or renovating the bathrooms at Bread for the City, one of MCN’s non-profit partners – and sometimes more ambitious, such as funding and building a digital library for a community in El Salvador. The Satellite Digital Library serves an underprivileged community in San Salvador and provides a STEAM lab, free WIFI, computers, thousands of books, and safe spaces.
Defining our Purpose
There is a Japanese term for defining one’s purpose: ‘Ikigai.’ One can help to understand their purpose by asking:
1. What are you passionate about?
2. What are you good at?
3. What does the world need?
For MCN Build’s leadership, that purpose meant narrowing our focus on building educational facilities while asking ourselves where our experience met a need. MCN Build now employs a team of 110 staff, and much like the fabric of Washington, DC, they hail from more than a dozen countries, including Lebanon, Ethiopia, and El Salvador.
Our vision also requires a vast and reliable network of professional support. All projects require the engagement of world-class partners in design, local small construction partners, as well as dedicated employees, high-quality subcontractors, and local non-profits that volunteer their time and talent.
At the Satellite Digital Library project, Luis Blanco, an MCN Assistant Superintendent and native of El Salvador used his background in concrete to supervise our team when it was time to pour the slab.
Fostering a Culture that Empowers
MCN Build’s philanthropic efforts are also refined by the people we hire and how our team interacts with the communities we serve. Locally, our Field Team has built pavilions at foster care homes, renovated homeless shelters, and are currently working on a treehouse for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Every year on Christmas, our Office Manager, Cynthia May, gathers hundreds of presents from the entire staff, and our longest-tenured employee, Superintendent Ezz El-Achi, dresses up as Santa to deliver the gifts to The St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families.
During one severe winter cold spell, a Superintendent working on our C.W. Harris Elementary School project called leadership asking for coats for students in need. A week later, the project team had gathered hundreds of jackets, gloves, and winter hats.
Senior Superintendent Vaughn McDuffie has led the construction of dozens of MCN projects, including the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center and Houston Elementary School. More importantly, he mentors young men. Under his tutelage, interns and summer youth participants have learned how to read blueprints and become empowered leaders.
Our philanthropic success hinges on our ability to foster this environment and hire people committed to causes bigger than themselves.
The other day I asked Pranav why it was important for him to give back:
“Education is of the utmost importance because it’s the easiest way to help someone out of darkness. I’ve been so blessed in my life, and if I’m able to cultivate a love of learning in just one person, I feel that it’s not just a good thing to do. It’s truly my responsibility. Life is hard, and I trust someone would do the same for me. Plus, it helps me get a good night’s sleep.”