Mentoring as Powerful Corporate Philanthropy? You bet!


Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Hundreds of thousands of food insecure families are less hungry because a few Georgia business leaders chose to mentor one young man with a big idea.

How’s that for impact?

Many small businesses struggle with how to make real impact in the community.  Mentoring is a powerful way to share your insights and multiply your impact across the community -- without a financial outlay.  Internships can provide a particularly deep result of mutual value.

Back in 2014, goBeyondProfit member and Jabian Consulting Co-founder Nigel Zelcer was a judge for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Excalibur Awards.  He was particularly impressed with then 16-year-old Jack Griffin, the winner of the “Most Creative Solution to a Complex Problem,” who had created a website called FoodFinder that solved a Gwinnett County need.  

“Jack was struck by the fact that it was difficult for food- and housing-insecure families to understand and find the resources available to them,” remembers Zelcer.  “He was using technology to aggregate insights about where, when and how to access local food pantries to better connect these resources to local students and families.”

Over the course of the coming years, the men stayed in touch and Zelcer offered Griffin an internship. With insights learned from the mentorship and internship at Jabian Consulting and another TAG leader at Broadgreen Solutions, Griffin came to better understand the business context around his idea.  

“I learned invaluable things about entrepreneurship,” explains Griffin.  “including what it takes to both launch and maintain a successful business … the inevitable highs and lows.”  And he absorbed life-long lessons including the value of “considering the real needs of your user above all else.”  

A grant and coaching support from another goBeyondProfit member, Inspire Brands -- through its Arby’s Foundation -- helped FoodFinder evolve to include a mobile app which greatly enhanced usability for the majority of families in need who are likelier to have access to smart phones than computers. 

Today, having continually nurtured his idea through his internships and studies at the University of Michigan, where he studied Business and Social Work, Jack Griffin is Founder and CEO of FoodFinder.  FoodFinder is billed as “a safe, secure and award-winning mobile and web app that gives food insecure children and their families a way to find free food assistance programs quickly."

And it continues to build momentum.    

More than 30,000 Georgians and 200,000 people nationally have turned to FoodFinder to find emergency food.  It now averages 2,000 people per day seeking help.

After initially cataloging all 100 food pantries in Gwinnett County, it has grown to include 50,000 of the 60,000 food pantries across the U.S. at His goal: include every food pantry in America by the end of 2020.

Think of the business insights you might share to empower a young person!  What to expect on the job?  How to behave professionally?  How to focus in school or nail the interview?  So many things – both rudimentary and complex – that would help drive their success in future schooling and work.  

It might be a great way for you to practice corporate generosity in and through your business, which is what goBeyondProfit is all about.  Give us a shout-out if you agree.