17th Transatlantic Forum

The Power of Pro Bono – Professionals in the Service of Society


24–27 Feb 2014, San Francisco

Having a meaningful job is more and more important for young people. This also means that employers are increasingly expected to make a valuable contribution to society. All over the world, consumers, too, are asking what companies can contribute socially and whether they “live” the values they preach. Pro bono is an answer to these challenges.

Pro bono engagement means putting professional core competencies at the service of nonprofit organizations to help them improve their impact. Employees who experience their work as meaningful become more self-confident. Moreover, by using and adapting their skills in an unusual environment with limited resources, they learn to develop innovative and client-specific solutions. Furthermore, they are proud of their company that makes this engagement possible. Companies that systematically support pro bono thus gain motivated, innovative, and loyal employees.

A Review on Storify

The 17th Transatlantic Forum will be organized in close cooperation with the Taproot Foundation. The Forum will focus on the question of how pro bono services in the fields of IT, graphic design, and human resources can not only benefit nonprofit organizations, but also one’s own company as well as society. The goal is to develop concepts for how to systematically communicate pro bono engagement to the various professional groups to make it an integral part of their sense of identity. The Forum aims to explore “The Power of Pro Bono” through panel discussions, workshops, and in direct interaction with civic initiatives in our host city of San Francisco and with pro bono intermediaries from all over the world.

About the Transatlantic Forum

Launched in 1995, the Transatlantic Forum – initially held annually, but now at longer intervals – brings together some 40 German, Canadian, and American Young Leaders from politics, business, academia, media, and the third sector to discuss social and socio-political issues at the transatlantic level. The aim of the Forum is to promote intercultural understanding and networking, support the search for sustainable solutions, and strengthen responsible leadership in a globalized world.


  • Michael Gough

    Michael Gough

    Vice President of Experience Design, Adobe, San Francisco



  • Meg Garlinghouse

    Meg Garlinghouse

    Head of LinkedIn for Good, LinkedIn Inc., Mountain View



  • Liz Hamburg

    Liz Hamburg

    President and Chief Executive, Taproot Foundation, New York



  • Jonathan Copulsky

    Jonathan Copulsky

    Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Chicago



  • John Cary

    John Cary

    Curator, Autodesk Foundation, San Francisco





  • David Carson

    David Carson

    Graphic Designer and Art Director, David Carson Design Inc., New York



  • Aaron Hurst

    Aaron Hurst

    Founder, Taproot Foundation; Founder, Purpose Economy, New York



  • Cheryl Porro

    Cheryl Porro

    Senior Vice President of Technology and Products, salesforce.com Foundation, San Francisco





  • Markus Hipp

    Markus Hipp

    Executive Director, BMW Foundation, Berlin




Site Visit

Children’s Creativity Museum (Design)

The Children’s Creativity Museum is an interactive art and technology museum for kids. Their mission is to nurture the three Cs of 21st-century skills – Creativity, Collaboration and Communication – for children and adolescents and their families. They believe that the ability to think critically, collaborate broadly  and communicate effectively as well as generating and prototyping multiple solutions, is the core of a 21st-century education. Envisioning a world where creativity, collaboration and communication inspire new ideas and innovative solutions, they believe that the success of the next generations will hinge not only on what they know, but also on their ability to think and act creatively as global citizens. The Children’s Creativity Museum received design and IT pro bono support from Adobe.



Site Visit


CounterPULSE provides space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPULSE acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, sparking transformation within our community. CounterPULSE is a three time grantee of Taproot’s IT,HR, and Board Recruitment grants.



Site Visit

Enterprise for High School Students (Design)

The mission of Enterprise is to engage and empower San Francisco Bay Area high school students to discover career opportunities and cultivate their individual interests through training, guidance and employment experiences in a diverse and supportive learning environment. Enterprise has previously partnered with Taproot for a Visual Identity and Brand Strategy and a Website Service Grant along with several other grants. Following completion of these two successful engagements, the next logical step for EHSS in their communications strategy is to have an effective brochure designed to reflect their mission, vision and program objectives, as well as to highlight the excellence of their youth development programs. Enterprise for high school Students is a five time grantee of Taproot’s design, leadership, and strategy grants.



Site Visit

Jewish Vocational Service (IT)

JVS transforms lives by helping people build skills and find jobs to achieve self-sufficiency. By working with local employers, JVS ensures that its clients are building the skills they need to gain employment and advance within their organizations. With the support of a 2007 Taproot team, JVS fulfilled a critical need for a new website that correctly prioritized its website audiences: clients, employers and donors. Today, these priorities remain a focal point for JVS’ programs and communications strategy enabling the organization to now serve these audiences on a greater scale. The functionality and navigation of the website interface, online applications, and content needed to be improved so that the demand for its services remains high. The organization is effectively utilizing the website to innovate the way that it works with its clients. JVS is a four time grantee of Taproot’s IT and Marketing grants.



Site Visit

Hospitality House (Design)

Hospitality House's mission is to build community strength by advocating policies and rendering services which foster self-sufficiency and social change. They encourage self-help, mutual respect, and increased self-esteem. Hospitality House's 43 year history has made significant contributions to San Francisco's Tenderloin area through their peer-led programs and advocacy efforts. Understanding the importance of marketing, Hospitality House applied for and received Taproot grants in marketing and website design, along with a strategic planning grant. Additionally, they have just received another website design grant to update their previous website from their 2003 grant. As a well-known arts organization and community organizing entity, Hospitality House is a five time Taproot grantee.



Site Visit

Goodwill of SF (HR)

Goodwill creates solutions to poverty through the businesses they operate. Opening doorways to jobs for local people in need, the Goodwill Way combines structured on-the-job training with life skills coaching. They help build daily habits and offer opportunities for advancement that enable the willing to move beyond the revolving door of minimum wage jobs. Furthermore, they help form solid resumes and connect trained graduates to ready employers – making possible lifelong careers that grow families and communities. Goodwill San Francisco is a two time grantee of Taproot’s HR grants.



Site Visit

Women’s Initiative for Self Employment (HR)

The mission of Women's Initiative for Self Employment is to build entrepreneurial capacity of women to overcome economic and social barriers and achieve self-sufficiency. Women’s Initiative is beginning its national expansion this year with launches in New York and Chicago. Its aspiration is to establish training sites in ten more markets over the next five years but this transition must be done in a strategic manner in order to ensure an effective transition to a national organization. The organization’s expansion model was tested and proved replicable through an exercise with Morgan Stanley. However, their assessment was solely focused on determining the nonprofit’s scalability and as such, it is now poised to develop a 5-year plan for their national expansion and organizational transition. The Women's Initiative for Self Employment is a first time grantee of Taproot’s Marketing grant.