Giving back with SIFE

What would you do if you discovered something that inspired you, something that made you feel better about today and more optimistic about tomorrow? You would embrace it, and that’s exactly what many National Association of Chain Drug Stores member organizations have discovered and embraced in SIFE, a global nonprofit with a unique value proposition that touches lives in lasting ways.

SIFE works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to improve the quality of life and standard of living of individuals and communities in need. Not a handout but a hand-up — creating solutions to problems that produce sustainable change. As Alvin Rohrs, president and CEO of SIFE Worldwide put it, “These student teams work with faculty advisers, business partners and local community members to develop and implement creative solutions, based on business concepts, that make things better not just for today and tomorrow, but for next year and the next decade. Everybody brings their best self forward, everybody has skin in the game, everybody benefits, and as a result it works and it lasts.”

This uncommon approach to giving back and paying forward attracts a crowd and packs a punch. Worldwide, 57,000 students on 1,600 campuses across 39 countries implemented more than 8,500 community projects last year.

And those in need aren’t the only ones benefiting. Donna Patterson, president of SIFE USA — the largest SIFE country operation with 22,000 students on 575 campuses — pointed out that, “As they work these projects, SIFE students develop hands-on, real-world skills that truly set them apart as they enter the job market. And as they develop into the next generation of leaders, they propagate the SIFE spirit of giving back in a sustainable way throughout their organizations and communities.”

For business partners the payoffs are many, according to Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management for Walgreens and longtime SIFE supporter. “For me, personally, supporting SIFE provides the inspiration of engaging with some of the brightest and most passionate young people you’ll ever find, and allows me to be part of something that elevates individuals and communities. For Walgreens, our involvement with SIFE furthers our CSR objectives in a very tangible way and provides a recruitment benefit through access to the type of talent we need to move our organization forward.”

If you’d like to learn more about this innovative and growing organization, check out its websites — SIFE.org for a worldwide overview or SIFEusa.org for a closer look at the U.S. segment — or, better yet, connect with Alvin, Donna or one of the 50-plus SIFE partner companies attending NACDS Annual. When you discover something inspiring, embrace it.


Bob Tess helps spread the word about SIFE as VP marketing for SIFE USA.