5-minute read

Employee-guided from the beginning: Meet Thesis Foundation.

How we grew from a small group of email makers to a full-service digital agency, connected by community and guided by humanity.

The mission of the Thesis Foundation is to close the equity gap in the greater Portland metro area by supporting organizations that engage in issues of racial equity and contribute to underserved communities.

Our foundation started small with an idea from our founder, Ryan Buchanan, a long-time community advocate who knew that he wanted his growing company to be deeply rooted in the community. He hoped to empower leaders while supporting advocates. He wasn’t sure exactly what a program like this would look like within a busy digital agency, but he knew it was important to the future of the work.

Employee-led. Portland-focused. Human-centered.

Ryan turned to ten hand-chosen employees to build their vision, soon becoming the Thesis Foundation. Once the bylaws were created and the mission was agreed upon, the group was off the races. In the three years since its inception, the Thesis Foundation has donated almost $90,000 to 22 organizations, and we’re just getting started. These organizations were chosen based on their correlation with our mission, their direct work, and the backing of a Thesis employee or Foundation board member.

The group is more than a community foundation; it’s a career foundation.

Board Members are voted in by their peers, must commit to the work monthly, and are encouraged to learn on the job. A part of Ryan’s original plan was to give employees a place to hone skills outside of their job description in a supportive environment. We are not just hell-bent on humanizing digital. We’re hell-bent on allowing employees to see their potential. Employees on the Foundation Board flex their skills in social and corporate responsibility, grant cycles, and community advocacy.

We listen, we learn, and we meet people where they are.

The Foundation has grown in depth and scope since its inception in 2019. When Covid-19 hit, our team listened, learned, and pivoted, updating our bylaws to focus on giving to organizations that aided those most impacted by the pandemic. In 2020, we also created, in addition to our spring and fall grant cycles, a fund supporting Black-led organizations. We are pleased to have a specific commitment to six local nonprofits devoted to Black excellence. In our third year of this work, we look forward to celebrating their missions and amplifying their efforts for years to come.

Employees lead the day. Thesis provides support and gets out of the way.

Outside of our grants, our employees and senior leadership team donate time, money, and more to local and international groups that they care about. Our entire team at Thesis cares deeply about our community, and it shows in our day-to-day interactions. As our team pivots with the times, so will the Foundation.

We look forward to expanding our Foundation’s mission in the future and to learning more about the good happening in our communities each day.

Contributors

Francie King

Project Manager

Adenike Akinbisehin

Writing Principal

Ned Lannamann

Editing Lead

Elise Loeb

Design Lead

Chris Morales

Digital Media Analyst

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