What we do matters.
That phrase is something heard often around our offices and in our virtual meetings. It is something we aim to instill in everyone who joins our Biddle family—from the business owners to the employees to our clients and potential clients.
We believe in what we do. We understand the importance. Biddle was founded nearly half a century ago on the principle that civil rights are human rights. To us these are not empty words; they are a way of life.
Because at the end of the day our work impacts people. For too many, what we do and how we do it can determine whether or not they are able to support themselves and feed their family. Our work can make the difference between someone being shut out in the cold or landing their dream job and embarking on a fulfilling career.
And we are proud of the work we do. At the basest level our business is in business to stay in business, just like any other. But to our founders and the people who carry that torch today, our purpose is so much more than that.
Over the last several years, events have transpired that can make it appear that our country is deeply divided over civil rights issues, but it is not. The overwhelming majority of our friends and neighbors and co-workers stand united behind the fundamental American value that all of us are created equal. But there are moments in history when we are called upon to affirm our values, and in the wake of movements such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and many others, people and organizations were compelled to speak up, speak out, and be clear about their commitments to civil rights.
And many did, Biddle included. We immediately decided that patting ourselves on the back for the business we are in is not enough. We looked at various charities and organizations that promote civil rights and found several worthy candidates, but that did not feel right to us either. The direct connection between what we do and real people’s lives inspired us to look for ways we could more directly support the people, the individuals, seeking positive change.
To that end, we created the Biddle Impact Scholarship. Each year we select one graduating high school senior who has a demonstrable history of social or economic justice advocacy and who intends to continue their education through some post-secondary program. And we give them money.
They can use that money to help offset the cost of their education. They can use it to further their advocacy efforts. Or the money might just be used to make their lives a little better, a little easier. Our goal is not to direct them, but to support them in the direction they choose to follow. Our goal is to recognize them, let them know we believe in them, and that there are others trying to do good things. And our goal is to inspire them to continue to think about, talk about, and act on their instinct to make our world a better place.
Our inaugural scholarship was awarded in 2020 to Tessa Van Vliet. Tessa was the recipient of the 2016 Presidential Volunteer Award for services she provided in her neighborhood elementary school where her mother is a teacher. Through her work with homeless and foster children, she discovered that they often move from place to place, usually with their few possessions stuffed into a trash bag. Tessa believed strongly that these kids deserve more dignity than that, so she started sewing them personalized pillowcases strong enough to double as a duffle bag. She is pursuing a teaching degree herself and wants to inspire her students to believe in the power of community and how much stronger we can be when we take the time and effort to help lift up someone else.
Our second scholarship was awarded in 2021 to Shujing “Ivy” Guo, a first-generation immigrant from a small rural village in Henan, China. She felt fortunate to be able to pursue a love of music alongside her education, but was devastated by budget cuts to her school’s concert band program. Most of the students relied on loaned instruments that require repair and maintenance. Those budget cuts put the participation of half the band in jeopardy. Ivy worked with UNICEF to raise the funds her program needed. She is now pre-med, pursuing her education in neuroscience, and hopes to help widen access to educational opportunities for children in underserved communities, with a particular emphasis on kids who are neurodiverse.
Biddle is currently looking for the 2022 Impact Scholarship recipient and we can’t wait to find them! We are continually inspired by the stories we receive of young people caring about their communities and the people in them. They give us hope that change is possible and we are grateful that we are able to support them in some small way.
We invite you to look beyond the words people say to the things that they do, including our own. We do not claim to have all the answers, not by any stretch. But we are committed to continuing to ask hard questions.
What we do know for sure is that what we do, what all of us do, matters, and that we are all stronger together.
– Patrick Nooren, Ph.D.
President, Biddle Consulting Group, Inc.