On November 9, 2021, Delta Institute’s associate board, the Delta Emerging Leaders, hosted our 10th annual BOOST event, celebrating a decade of sustainable entrepreneurship. We are grateful to have philanthropic support from the local community through sponsors like the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, who sponsored this year’s Audience Favorite Award granted to Chicago Tool Library. We talked with them to share more about their approaches to innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability:
What would you like to share with our supporters about your organization, and where can they go to learn more?
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance is the nation’s 13th largest property/casualty insurance group and was ranked No. 232 in the Spring 2021 Fortune 500 list. The company sells insurance products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agency owners in 19 states. American Family affiliates – The General, Homesite, Main Street America Insurance, and CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance – make up the American Family enterprise.
For more than 90 years, American Family Insurance has invested in initiatives benefitting communities and our society. We are committed to action that works to close equity gaps and empowers people to dream big, dream bold and dream fearlessly. We do this through external investing and grantmaking, community initiatives, efforts and partnerships and internal advocacy efforts.
In 2021, we solidified our commitment to expanding this work, pledging $105 million over five years through our Free To Dream initiative, which will strengthen community partnerships that bridge equity gaps, build healthy sustainable communities and fight for social justice. Free to Dream: Efforts for Change | American Family Insurance (amfam.com)
Your sponsorship is helping support sustainability efforts in the Midwest. Are there other ways in which your organization is committed to sustainability?
The American Family Insurance group of companies is committed to sustainability across our business. We have made tremendous progress with our initiatives, our commitment to sustainability and climate action, diversity, equity and inclusion as well as our recent work in youth climate advocacy, but there is still much more work to be done.
To reduce our environmental impact within our enterprise American Family pledges carbon neutrality by 2030 (amfam.com). Externally, we are investing in community-led efforts to reduce environmental impacts. Details can be found in our fourth annual Corporate Responsibility report as well as our first annual Inclusive Excellence report, both available here.
We support sustainability efforts and solutions in communities from the ground up through our efforts at the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. The Institute is a venture capital firm and partner of choice for exceptional entrepreneurs who are building scalable, sustainable businesses in a long-term effort to close equity gaps in America. The Institute also recognizes that capacity building and supporting organizations and experts that have been working toward social causes are equally important in making a positive impact within our communities around the country.
Our annual BOOST event showcases the most innovative emerging entrepreneurs in the Midwest. Why is entrepreneurship and innovation important to your organization?
There is an expectation for business to lead – and act – in this moment. Through the Institute, we invested more than $11 million in startups focused on social good in 2020. These investments are focused on social entrepreneurs who are building programs and initiatives in an effort to close equity gaps nationwide that address climate justice issues. To learn more about the work we are doing, we encourage everyone to check out the early-stage social impact start-ups that we invest in and the community partnerships and programs we support.
Supporting the BOOST 2021 Pitch Competition is important as we are committed to climate action and community resilience through collaborations to learn, share ideas, and gain new skills. By supporting organizations like the Delta Institute, we aim to support social entrepreneurs, promote renewable technologies, and support economic empowerment both in the Midwest and all over the country. We look forward to building a robust ecosystem to support social entrepreneurs working to solve important climate justice issues. The annual BOOST 2021 Pitch Competition is a strong part of this goal.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about why you decided to support BOOST and Delta Institute?
In January 2020, American Family Insurance launched the Office of Community and Social Impact (OCSI), building on our legacy of social impact work to close equity gaps, strengthen climate and community resilience, and fight for social justice.
From the profound work of the OCSI team and the long-standing commitment and support of non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and partnerships through the Dreams Foundation, to the transformative partnerships and investments of the Institute and our Milwaukee-based team of community and social impact advisors, we are continually expanding our efforts to disrupt inequitable access to resources and opportunity. We want to inspire and protect our communities’, customers’ and company’s ability to dream fearlessly.
We are dedicated to supporting local social entrepreneurs because change happens best locally. Our work is grounded in people and partnerships to create real and effective change.
This work isn’t easy, which is exactly why it is worth doing. Success requires all of us to be willing to see/respect/acknowledge the inherent humanity of others and understand their challenges and experiences. We believe people are the best source of ideas and wisdom to create solutions to their own problems and challenges. We look forward to the continued collaboration as partners in progress.
From all of us at Delta Institute, we thank you again for supporting our work and emerging entrepreneurship in the Midwest!