Can gorillas help fight poverty?
Lauren Sartwell has a long history of supporting her community and knows United Way’s call to action very well as she annually gives, volunteers, and advocates for the many social impact issues UWBA tackles daily, which is evidenced by her years of service with Women United in both Central Iowa and the Bay Area.
Sartwell generously took time out of her busy schedule as Regulatory Compliance Manager with Intuit to share some of her insights on her philanthropic journey, what our Women United affinity group has been up to, and how her employer supports alleviating poverty throughout the Bay Area.
What attracted you to volunteering with Women United's (WU) steering committee?
I was involved with United Way of Central Iowa prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2015. My very first engagement with United Way was $2 per paycheck in my first job out of college (many years ago). Over the years, I’ve increased my involvement, participating in various volunteer events, eventually joining the Women’s Leadership Council Advocacy Committee in 2014. When we moved to the Bay Area in 2015, my contacts at United Way in Iowa reached out to UWBA to help me make a connection. Selfishly, WU was a familiar anchor point in our new home, and I knew based on my experience in Iowa, that I would encounter strong, like-minded women in the group. Before I officially joined WU, I attended the SparkPoint Center celebration in early 2016. I was touched and inspired by the success stories of clients who had completed degrees, paid off debt or increased their savings. It was clear to me that the program was having a very real impact in clients' lives. After chatting with the other women on the steering committee at that event, I knew it was a group I needed to join.
What are WU's biggest accomplishments over the last few years?
The advocacy focus of the UWBA WU group has given me an outlet for my interest in public policy coupled with issues I am passionate about. Since advocacy has been my focus, that is where I have felt the biggest accomplishment. I felt a very real sense of accomplishment around the expanded eligibility for the California Earned Income Tax Credit that we advocated for in Sacramento this spring. Advocacy and outreach present an opportunity to improve and repair the systems that can keep people caught in a cycle of poverty.
Would you recommend friends volunteer with WU?
I talk about my role with UWBA and Women United to my friends and colleagues regularly. So many people that I speak with want to do something to make a difference or improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society. I believe that we are always stronger together, and UWBA and WU allow me to join forces with others to produce a greater change than I could on my own. The women I have met though WU have become friends, and that makes our work together all the more enjoyable.
United Way helps make impactful moments for struggling Bay Area residents daily through a variety of community investments. How does your volunteer efforts help make a difference in your community?
One of the things I enjoy about the WU partnership with SparkPoint Centers is the opportunities to learn about real impact in individual lives. I recently attended another SparkPoint Center Celebration at Skyline College. The award recipient that night was an Army Veteran who was able to reduce the financial burden on his family after completing his criminal justice program. He and his family are better positioned for long-term financial success because of the work of WU and UWBA. He is one of many success stories, but a powerful reminder of the value of the work we are doing.
Intuit is part of the Bay Area's thriving technology sector. How does Intuit support Bay Area communities?
At Intuit, giving back is more than just a business practice, it's a longstanding part of who we are as an organization. It's volunteering in communities, supporting nonprofits, and donating our signature products like TurboTax to lower income taxpayers and QuickBooks to nonprofits. And it's making the Earth a greener place. It's our culture.
In the Bay Area -- and in every community where we operate -- employees can use up to 32 hours of paid time off to volunteer and receive up to $5,000 in donation matching to vetted non-profit organizations. They can also donate one subscription or desktop copy of QuickBooks to the nonprofit of their choice.
As a company, Intuit has worked alongside UWBA, the Golden State Opportunity Fund, and others to help eligible Californians claim the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Our foundation donated almost a half million dollars to support public education and outreach efforts and created an online calculator to help taxpayers to determine if they qualify to receive the California EITC.
Our foundation is also a long time partner with Tax Aid in San Francisco and has sponsored taxpayer assistance events throughout the state for almost a dozen years with employees volunteering to help people prepare and file their returns for free.
ABOUT LAUREN SARTWELL
Lauren has devoted her career to the financial services industry. Before joining Intuit, she worked in commercial lending, loan review, regulatory compliance and internal audit at various community, regional, and national banks. In 2014, she earned the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager certification.
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