By Mark Reading. Originally published on the Atlassian blog.
When I joined Atlassian as the Head of Foundation last December I knew I was becoming part of something very special. Atlassian’s 5 values really do drive behaviours (so much more than anything I have experienced elsewhere during a career spanning more than 35 years) and the passion of all Atlassians (from the founders, Scott and Mike, through to our most recent joiners) to make a difference in the world is something to behold.
It sounds a little corny, but this place gives me energy that I’ve not felt for a long time. Today, I’m excited to share an opportunity for people outside Atlassian to contribute their energy and ideas to the cause of educating disadvantaged children.
But wait: what’s the Atlassian Foundation?
At Atlassian, we believe in the power of both business and education as forces for good. In the very early days of Atlassian the two founders, Scott and Mike, pledged that if ever Atlassian was successful then 1% of Atlassian’s resources (equity, profit, employee time and products) would be used for the good of humanity. This pledge, which was made at a time when Atlassian had very little, evolved into what is now known as the Pledge 1% movement.
Because of the generosity of Scott and Mike and the subsequent success of Atlassian, the Atlassian Foundation is now very well resourced (at least by corporate Australian standards). The Foundation has about a $60m in net assets and all Atlassians are encouraged to use their 5 days per year of “foundation leave” for the good of the community.
From its beginning, the Atlassian Foundation has focused on maximizing its impact through education. This is because education is widely acknowledged as something that goes to the very core of addressing poverty, rather than relieving a symptom or consequence of poverty. Education changes lives and helps to break the cycle of poverty – not just for the current generation, but also for future generations. Educated parents appreciate the opportunities that education provides and therefore typically place great importance on the education of their children.
Education is the greatest weapon you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela
Over the last decade or so, the Atlassian Foundation has contributed to the education of children in Cambodia – primarily through our support for a truly inspiring organization, Room to Read. We’ve also supported local education initiatives in the locations in which we have an office.
Recently, we have substantially increased our ambitions around education. We have now set a bold goal: to help prepare 10 million disadvantaged youth for the workforce of the future – within 10 years. We refer to this as our “10 million in 10 years” goal.
Great achievements come from teams
Atlassian is fundamentally a team company – our core software products are designed to improve team collaboration and productively. Our NASDAQ ticker is not “ATL” or something similar. It’s “TEAM”.
To achieve our “10 million in 10 years” goal, we need to create a great team by identifying and supporting the most innovative, scalable, technology-based approaches to the education of disadvantaged youth (children and young adults up to the very early twenties). That’s where you come in.
We have committed up to US$1 million in funding the first year and we intend to be long-term supporters of whatever initiatives are best placed to have the impact we’re seeking. We also plan to bring the skills of Atlassians to the table in order to provide as much support as possible. The Australian Government, through DFAT’s Innovation Xchange has matched this funding. Together, we have partnered with MIT (through their “Solve at MIT” initiative) to launch the Youth, Skills and Workforce of the Future challenge.
If you are working on a great scalable education initiative that benefits disadvantaged youth, please apply. If you know someone who would be interested, please share this post with them. Even if you don’t know someone who would be interested, please consider sharing this post anyway. We want the people behind the very best education initiatives to learn of our desire to support them.
We hope to hear from you soon!