Today’s Office Depot Foundation was born out of the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, as the company’s South Florida associates and surrounding communities struggled to get their lives and businesses back to normal. It was formally structured as the Office Depot Disaster Relief Foundation in 1994. Its primary objective was to provide interest-free loans to associates who had incurred a catastrophic loss, such as a natural disaster, fire or the death of an immediate family member.
Office Depot, through the Office Depot Foundation, was the first company to pledge $1 million to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief in 2005. That year, the Office Depot Foundation provided more than 200 loans valued at nearly $250,000 to Office Depot associates in the Gulf Coast area and in Florida following Hurricane Wilma, which passed almost directly over the company’s Corporate Headquarters.
In 2007, corporate citizenship at Office Depot entered a new era as the Office Depot Foundation took on a broad new role as the primary charitable giving arm of the company with responsibility for several strategic priorities designed to demonstrate the company’s commitment to making a difference around the world. At that time, the took responsibility for most of the programs that had been carried out previously by the Department of Community Relations at Office Depot.
When the Foundation assumed this expanded role, it adopted a set of strategic priorities to guide its work. These priorities were known as the “5 X 5 Program” because they encompassed five key ways in which the Foundation sought to make a difference in support of its mission – Listen Learn Care for the ensuing five years.
These priorities focused on helping children succeed in school and in life; enabling civil society (nonprofit) organizations to become more efficient and effective; assisting people and businesses in preparing for disasters, then recovering and rebuilding afterwards; strengthening local communities through grants, product donations and volunteerism; and encouraging community development through entrepreneurship and economic innovation. In 2012, consensus clearly indicated that the “5 X 5 Program” had achieved its objectives. During the previous five years, the Foundation successfully enhanced existing initiatives and conceived, planned and implemented significant new programs that unquestionably made a positive impact on children, families and communities.
After assessing its accomplishments during the “5 X 5 Program” and evaluating what it learned, the Foundation developed a new set of strategic priorities to guide it for the next five years – The Caring Agenda.