Community involvement is a cornerstone of the philanthropic work that Microsoft partners do. We have seen first-hand how that commitment to giving back and raising others up has helped define companies and drive their success within their individual communities. Today we are highlighting the efforts of Microsoft partner Capstone IT. Read on to learn more about how they are giving back to their community in Rochester, New York.
Finding Inspiration in Community
Sitima Fowler, Co-CEO of Capstone IT, described their philanthropic work as both fun and functional. Capstone IT provides managed IT services to the SMB market of Rochester, Buffalo, and now West Palm Beach, Florida. They deliver simple and affordable service packages, including Office 365 migration, IT support, and security management. Given that Rochester has the 2nd highest poverty rate in the US, it was important for Sitima and her co-CEO and husband Mike Fowler to give back to support that community.
“Serving the small and medium size businesses in the area, it is a very close, tight-knit market. It just dawned on us that the community has been so good to us and has led to our business success. This is where we have our roots, where our employees live. This is how we can give back to the community that has been so good to us.”
– Sitima Fowler, Co-CEO of Capstone IT
Sitima shared that she is inspired to support the causes that she is passionate about. Capstone IT supports several non-profit organizations and participates in giving programs throughout the year. Both she and Mike have been motivated by the good work of others, and in both cases, they were recommended and encouraged to participate by someone they admired. Sitima said, “We focus on the local because we are so entrenched in this community that we really want to see it grow and thrive.”
Capstone IT supports a wide variety of community groups and programs, many focused on providing opportunities and resources to local youth and homeless. Both CEOs are engaged in working directly with organizations as board members, volunteering, and fundraising. One example of how the company gave back in a particularly interesting way is their “Adopt-A-Classroom” program, where students from a neighboring school were invited to the office to learn more about the tools and technology that will help them succeed later in life. Students got a first-hand look at programs like Skype for Business, PowerPoint, and even watched an engineer dissect a computer.
Sitima said that Capstone IT makes giving back fun for their employees, and even hosted a 10-months of giving campaign to celebrate being in business for 10 years. That campaign was so well received that they decided to continue the program all year long. Employees also get 8 hours of paid time off per year to work on a charitable event of their choice. Here is a sample of some of their other programs and activities.
Bivona Child Advocacy Center
After being recommended to join the Board of Directors for Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Sitima shared that she initially had her reservations. The work that Bivona does is crucial in helping abused children rebuild their lives, but with a teenage daughter of her own, the work that they do is hard. They streamline the process of supporting and protecting children traumatized by abuse through collaborative services, awareness education, and community leadership.
Sitima said that working with an organization like Bivona hit close to home as a mother, but after connecting with the organization time and again, it became clear to her that their partnership was meant to be. Sitima has been a member of the Bivona Board of Directors since May 2014.
Co-CEO, Mike Fowler is involved in supporting the nonprofit organization East House, whose mission is to serve individuals with persistent mental illness and substance abuse disorder to help them live independent and fulfilling lives. They help adults recover through a network of services, including supportive housing, care coordination, as well as education and employment programs. East House works to provide services that ensure their clients have the opportunities and tools they need for a successful recovery. Mike Fowler has been a Board Member of East House since 2013.
Sitima said that their work with the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) was a particular passion of hers, as she is inspired by the chance to help people through nourishing meals and care. RAIHN is a nonprofit, interfaith, culturally sensitive organization that helps homeless families achieve sustainable independence through access to shelter, food, and case management. Sitima said that when it’s her family’s turn to host an event, she pulls out all the stops. She goes above and beyond to make the family feel loved and cared for, whether by treating them to surf and turf dining or music and candles. She said that it’s not just about the food, it’s about making participants feel appreciated and supported.
“My goal is to lessen their hardships and the burden of homelessness, even if it’s just for an evening.”
– Sitima Fowler, Co-CEO of Capstone IT
Why Giving Back Matters
Sitima said that their philanthropy work at Capstone IT matters on a personal level, but also on a business level. Their customers are the same people and families who make the Rochester community what it is. The community is what helps her family and those of her employees to thrive. That’s why it’s so important to contribute.
Rochester is not a growing economy. With high levels of poverty and joblessness, and with an economy that is not growing the way it once was, local companies are not as able to give back as maybe they once were. Big names like Kodak and Xerox were once the cornerstone of the Rochester economy, but they are now downsizing. Sitima said that as a successful company, it’s their responsibility to step up. “I can’t solve world hunger,” she said, “but I can do my part.”
Capstone IT is growing and they just won the Great Place To Work designation! By weaving charitable work into the heart and soul of their company, Sitima and Mike have increased employee retention and are working hard to live out their core values. Their long-term goals include continuing to support the charities and organizations they work with today in a sustainable manner, and growing their business so they can grow their philanthropy work as well. Sitima shared that someday in the future, she would like to start an entrepreneur seeding program in rural India, as she would like to take what she has learned about business and share that knowledge with people who have not had the same opportunities.
Learn more about how you can give back to the community by connecting with other partners in the Microsoft Partner Community.