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Autodesk Establishes Global Foundation

Autodesk launched the Autodesk Foundation, which will invest in and support the most impactful nonprofit organizations using the power of design to help solve challenges, such as climate change, access to water, and healthcare. In partnership with the company, the Autodesk Foundation will provide select design-oriented grantees with software, training, and financial support.

“We have been delighted by the number of people using our technology to design a better world and solve global problems,” said Autodesk President and CEO Carl Bass. “These are the people who inspired us to align our philanthropic giving with our core business, to support more of these nonprofits to bring their ideas to market. We will also be encouraging the thousands of Autodesk employees to get involved in Foundation programs.

“We believe that design offers humanity our greatest hope for addressing some of the most urgent, inter-connected and non-negotiable challenges of our time,” says President and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation and Autodesk Senior Director of Sustainability Lynelle Cameron. “We want to support and accelerate the design-led revolution currently underway, by investing in design-driven entities that are pursuing scalable solutions with measureable impact.”

Tackling Epic Challenges Through Impact Design
Impact design focuses on generating significant, measurable progress toward solving today’s epic challenges – access to healthcare and education; clean energy and water; efficient transportation, to name a few. Through the Foundation’s Impact Design Program, carefully selected nonprofits will receive funding, and in partnership with Autodesk, Inc., software and training to create solutions that address these challenges.

KickStart International, one of the Foundation’s pilot grantees, exemplifies impact design. The Foundation recently hosted four of their engineers from Kenya to come to San Francisco for a multi-week design software immersion and fabrication workshop. KickStart designs simple agricultural irrigation tools that help African farmers start profitable businesses and rise out of poverty. “Before this training, it took more than a year and 20 hand-made prototypes to develop a subassembly of our water pump. Now we have been able to design, test critical prototypes of the next version of our irrigation pump with Autodesk tools, and then fabricate them at the Autodesk facilities. We are saving months of work and will be able to create better products, faster, from now on,” explained Alan Spybey, director and designer at KickStart.

The programs first grantees also include:
•         MASS Design Group, which designs health facilities in parts of the world where they’re needed most. The Autodesk Foundation is supporting its efforts in rural Malawi to design maternal waiting homes, which are shelters for expectant mothers, enabling women who once waited until the onset of labor to travel to receive medical care and a safe hospital birth.

•         D-Rev, which designs and develops devices and products to improve the health and income of people living on less than $4 a day. Autodesk has helped fund crucial durability testing of the next generation of the organization’s ReMotion Knee, an inexpensive and easy-to-fit prosthetic joint for those in the developing world.

•         The Rural Studio at Auburn University, whose 20K House program challenges students to design energy efficient homes that can be built for $20,000. Autodesk is helping to fund the construction of one of these housing prototypes in rural Alabama.

Autodesk Technology Impact Program Delivers Software to Create Change
During the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, Autodesk launched the Technology Impact program, providing software donations to select nonprofits that are employing design to create a better world. One nonprofit benefitting is Habitat for Humanity, and Executive Director for Greater San Francisco Phillip Kilbridge believes, “Autodesk has been a great collaborator for us. From providing us with complimentary tools to plan our builds to additional hands on our sites, we couldn’t run as smoothly without them.”

Autodesk has committed to donating $7.5 million in software to at least 500 nonprofits in the first year of the program’s operation. Through the Technology Impact Program, Autodesk offers qualifying nonprofits two licenses of its professional design software suites: Autodesk Product Design Suite Premium, Autodesk Building Design Suite Premium, Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Premium, and Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate.

Employees Contribute to the Foundation Goal
Autodesk’s employees play a significant role in the Foundation’s efforts to create a better world. Autodesk supports the 7,390 employees worldwide to volunteer with or donate to the nonprofit organizations they care most about. As part of the Foundation launch, Autodesk increased the annual donation matching commitment per employee and has made it easier to volunteer.

“With my work experience and commitment to volunteering, I help manage a local food bank site on Saturdays," said Minette Norman, a senior director at Autodesk. "It’s something I’m passionate about, and I value that Autodesk cares too.” Last year, Autodesk employees around the world volunteered more than 8,200 hours.

Providing Critical Disaster Response
The Autodesk Foundation also provides financial support and facilitates in-kind and technical support to areas struck by unexpected disasters. The company has most recently supported relief efforts for Typhoon Haiyan and the tsunami stemming from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Autodesk and its employees have held various fundraisers and donated to charities and relief organizations including Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross and Architecture for Humanity. Autodesk further supports disaster response efforts through matching employee donations with corporate funds.

For more information, visit autodesk.org.
Posted March 12th, 2014 by Jackie Austin


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