Celebrating Digital Learning Day: How Camp Blackbaud Amplifies Technology Skills for Good

February 23, 2017 Sally Ehrenfried

This article was originally published on npEngage.

Today marks 2017’s Digital Learning Day, a day where we celebrate technology’s role in how we learn. As a technology company that powers the world of social good, Blackbaud’s solutions help nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporate giving programs advance their missions and make a positive impact on the world each and every day. While we use our technology skills for good, we don’t stop there.

We Give Back

My colleagues at Blackbaud are truly committed to giving back, as a matter of fact, “we give back” is one of Blackbaud’s corporate values. In the last year, 85% of my colleagues volunteered, 63% participated in skills-based volunteerism; and 86% say that Blackbaud’s work powering the world of philanthropy was important in their decision to join the company. It is this intersection of volunteer service, especially skills-based service, and the desire to give back that inspired me to write this blog on Digital Learning Day.

Camp Blackbaud

Many years ago, before I even joined Blackbaud (and that was 14 years ago), we hosted Camp Blackbaud.  At that time, Camp Blackbaud was held on a Saturday and we welcomed students from area schools and taught them about Microsoft Office solutions, the “guts” of desktop processors, and other basic technology concepts. Fast forward a few years, after taking a break from camp, we relaunched Camp Blackbaud in its present form. Now, it is a two-day camp where we bring students from underserved communities to our campuses in Charleston and Austin and teach them about the technology development process—from idea to final product and everything, and I mean everything, in between (product management, user experience, program management, engineering, quality assurance, and user education).

Partnering with Charleston Promise Neighborhood in Charleston and Latinitas and Junior Achievement in Austin, we hold four camps annually for elementary and middle school-aged children. We use coding tools like Hopscotch and code.org for our elementary school students and recently introduced a 7th/8th grade camp focusing on robotics.

Why Camp Blackbaud?

We all know about the importance of STEM education and challenges technology companies face as they look for talent to fill their technical roles. Camp Blackbaud, at its core, brings STEM education to life. For us, it’s much more than STEM education.  Camp Blackbaud shows these students what is possible.  On day 2 of Camp Blackbaud, our “camp counselors” wear t-shirts from their respective colleges, we talk openly about what it takes to work in a company like Blackbaud, how we work together, and how much we really like working with each other.  It’s about the one to one mentoring they receive from my colleagues.  t’s about bridging the opportunity gap for these students.

And yet, Camp Blackbaud isn’t just for the students. Camp Blackbaud is our signature program highlighting skills-based volunteerism. Through Camp Blackbaud, we’re amplifying our technology skills for good through our volunteer service.  Skills-based volunteer service is a wonderful way to engage and really move the needle for organizations and their missions. And for us, it directly engages my colleagues in our value of “we give back.”

As you can tell from our 2016 Camp Blackbaud video, it’s often hard to tell who is having more fun, the campers or the counselors, I’ll let you be the judge.




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