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Tetra Tech’s Jason J. Cook Discusses the Importance of Industrial Control System Cybersecurity

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 8:54am

Technology Solutions

Jason Cook is a senior project manager with Tetra Tech and is a Professional Engineer and Uptime Institute Accredited Tier Designer for critical infrastructure supporting data centers and critical missions. He has nearly 25 combined years of experience as an active duty Air Force Civil Engineer Officer, Air Force Civil Servant, and project manager for Tetra Tech. His expertise is in highly available critical infrastructure systems after eight years serving as the engineer responsible for the survivability, endurability, and availability of the infrastructure in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station’s (CMAFS) underground complex.

Jason is the lead design engineer for the “Plug-and-Play Defensible Network Backbone” concept currently under construction for CMAFS. This first-of-its-kind system for the Air Force incorporates a standardized network switch assembly, resilient network topology, and machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI)-based security overwatch. The system allows for near real-time threat detection and alerts for Industrial Control Systems (ICS)/Facility-Related Control Systems (FRCS)/Operational Technology (OT) networks.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Mechanics from the United States Air Force Academy and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

What experiences led you to your work in industrial control system (ICS) networks and cybersecurity?

I served as the Operations Flight Chief and Deputy Base Civil Engineer at CMAFS for nearly eight years—think NORAD and Wargames, or maybe Stargate SG-1, if CMAFS doesn’t ring a bell. The complex had Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) mandated infrastructure availability as it related to the numerous classified missions housed there. So over time, I became an expert in designing, operating, and maintaining highly available critical infrastructure. My duties included serving as the responsible engineer for the unique survivability systems and critical infrastructure availability of the 5.5-acre underground complex at CMAFS.

The ICS network was unique because it was used to operate the survivability systems and critical infrastructure in the complex. Manpower reductions made to the automation and functions of the ICS network critical to meeting the complex’s mission requirements. I took an interest in the security of our network as it related to my responsibilities, and it became a personal interest because I saw the potential as well as the risks of automation.

When I left government service and joined Tetra Tech, I wanted to expand my expertise in highly available infrastructure. I tested for the Uptime Institute Accredited Tier Designer certification to expand my knowledge and capabilities. As part of the certification, you further explore the relationship of ICS to critical infrastructure and the data center—or critical mission in Department of Defense (DoD) parlance. I realized I needed to expand my ICS design and cybersecurity knowledge and capabilities to be effective for my clients. Since then, I have made some strategic partnerships with IT installation and ICS cybersecurity experts to help increase my personal capabilities and bring a full-service, turn-key solution to the Air Force (now United States Space Force).

Why do defense clients care about ICS cybersecurity?

The risks associated with traditional IT are easy to understand: loss of classified or sensitive information or giving away our plans to our enemies. Those associated with your building’s lighting control system are not. When I talk about ICS, I am talking about all automation systems. You will hear the terms operational technology (OT), FRCS, and ICS, often interchangeably. Generally, I’m referring to OT as non-IT computing and communication systems.

Like all systems, you have to understand the true impact and consequences of a compromise. Rarely do we have a single purpose with our OT network, and a vulnerability in your lighting controls may be exploited to gain access to other systems like heating and cooling. Maybe the attacker can raise the temperature in your computer room without an alarm sounding and shut down critical missions all from failure to employ minimal security for your lighting controls. Unfortunately, most of the OT infrastructure in place at the DoD was put in long before the focus on its cybersecurity. Now we are playing catchup with the IT world trying to achieve the same level of capability in defending our networks. Defense clients care about ICS cybersecurity because it affects their ability to protect and execute their missions.

What makes cybersecurity for OT different from standard IT network security?

In some cases, OT cybersecurity does benefit from standard IT security, where the risks and threats overlap. An OT network still runs on a Windows-based computer, so the IT cybersecurity we employ on our defense communication networks can and should be applied to our OT workstations. To minimize vulnerabilities in these areas, we can employ Common-Access Card (CAC) authentication and ensure patches to the operating system and software are applied.

However, our traditional IT approach to detecting threats is generally signature-based. In simplified terms, we find a new virus, identify its signature, update our databases with the information, and then push these updates out to every workstation through antivirus software. For defense IT networks all operating on the same OS with the same approved software, keeping pace to threats to this environment is possible, and the signature-based approach works. Where the OT networks are not standardized, do not have the same workstation setup, and contain thousands of options for devices and software employed, we need a different approach.

We can employ machine learning/AI to bridge the gap. As of 2019, the average time to detect a network intrusion for OT was over 180 days. That is 6 months for an adversary to gain full access to the setup and impacts of changes to your OT network. Using AI, we can monitor the data on that network and identify behavioral changes—whether in a device or human using the network—to detect intrusions within seconds of when they occur and identify where the attack is coming from shortly thereafter. Using AI as a security overwatch for the network, defense clients can arm their cyber defense teams with the tools and information needed to detect attacks, minimize the impact of the attack, and then counterattack as needed.

What tools and approaches should defense agencies consider as they address OT cybersecurity?

Defense clients need to avail themselves of all the options available for OT cybersecurity, commensurate with the risks and consequences of attacks. Employing a risk management approach, perhaps lower risk systems need only adopt a compliance-based approach to policy, such as ensuring passwords are changed frequently and patches applied. However, higher risk systems should have the tools and capabilities embedded to handle that increased risk. That is what made me so excited to participate as the lead engineer for the “Plug-and-Play Defensible Network Backbone” project at CMAFS. The location came up with the concept, and it employs an AI-based security overwatch system that will allow for near real-time detection of attacks, including insider threats. I know from my past experience the criticality of the ICS network to the missions working in the underground complex. Like all defense agencies, the DoD needs enhanced cybersecurity, especially for its Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP) critical assets. I think this new design approach fills a critical gap in capability for OT cybersecurity needs.

Report: Electrical Distribution Networks Can Contribute to a Low-Carbon Future

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:49pm

Download: How Electrical Distribution Networks Can Contribute to a Low-Carbon Future

Climate change is a rapidly growing global concern. Therefore, new, more stringent regulations to reduce CO2 emissions will be introduced to allow a massive deployment of distributed energy resources, including the incorporation of electric vehicles. Electric distribution utilities will therefore face problems in managing their networks and will need to adopt new solutions.

This paper offers modern strategies for:

  • Leveraging smart grid and microgrid tools

  • More environmentally-friendly switchgear

  • A circular economy approach

Explore which approach can help you meet and exceed regulatory targets toward a low-carbon future.

Download How Electrical Distribution Networks Can Contribute to a Low-Carbon Future

Wells Fargo Announces Efforts to Keep People Housed in Response to COVID-19

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 2:50pm

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) today announced additional efforts to help people stay in their homes with funding for more than 500 nonprofits across the U.S., as part of the Wells Fargo Foundation’s $175 million commitment to assist people and communities in response to COVID-19. More than 300 grants have already been made since March to help nonprofits provide urgent housing services for vulnerable populations.

“Wells Fargo continues to take steps to support our customers, employees and communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bill Daley, vice chairman of Public Affairs at Wells Fargo. “These grants for nonprofits across the U.S. will provide a critical safety net to help keep people housed and are part of our philanthropic focus to bring solutions to address housing security, small business stability, and consumer financial health.”

The COVID-19 relief grants from the Wells Fargo Foundation are intended to enable national nonprofit housing intermediaries, local housing counselors, and nonprofit housing providers to support housing stability for more than 100,000 renters and homeowners across the U.S. facing financial challenges.  Strategies include expanding the capacity of housing counselors to respond to renters and homeowners as well as supporting nonprofits that provide affordable rental homes and services.

“Wells Fargo is committed to the importance of home for everyone in our nation,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy with the Wells Fargo Foundation.  “Having a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home is essential to help lay the foundation for wellness, dignity and economic opportunity. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, as far too many people are facing housing instability, these grants will support hundreds of nonprofit professionals and their organizations whose missions are to keep people in their homes and create opportunities to have a home.”

The most recent COVID-19 housing grants will provide more than a dozen national nonprofit housing intermediaries with grant funding to support counseling and to help keep people in stable housing. Organization include:

  • Enterprise Community Partners

  • GreenPath Financial Wellness

  • HomeFree-USA

  • Housing Partnership Network

  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

  • National Community Reinvestment Coalition

  • National Foundation for Credit Counselingâ

  • National Urban League

  • Navicore Solutions

  • NID Housing

  • NeighborWorks® America

  • Rural Community Assistance Corporation

  • UnidosUS

  • USA Homeownership Foundation DBA Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals

Meeting Customer Needs

Wells Fargo continues to put measures in place to support the needs of homeowners impacted by COVID-19. The company has suspended all foreclosure activity and evictions for mortgage and home equity customers and is offering a three-month payment suspension for any Wells Fargo Home Lending mortgage or home equity customer who requests assistance. This includes customers with owner-occupied homes as well as investors who own single-family or 2-4 unit rental properties. Customers who contact Wells Fargo and obtain a payment suspension won’t have past-due status reported to the consumer reporting agencies and won’t be charged late fees during the suspension period.

In addition to supporting mortgage and home equity customers, Wells Fargo also has stopped involuntary automobile repossessions, and is offering fee waivers, payment deferrals and other expanded assistance for credit card, auto, small business, and personal lending customers who contact the company. Wells Fargo customers can learn more about assistance options available at www.wellsfargo.com/coronavirus.

From early March to early April, the company deferred payments and waived fees for more than 1.3 million consumer and small business customers. This included deferring more than 1 million payments for a total of approximately $3 billion in principal and interest.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.98 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment, and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,400 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 31 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 263,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2019 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo.

Achieving a 4.0 for Sustainability in Higher Education

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 11:49am

Register here

Presenter: Rami Vagal – Senior Sustainability Manager, Mohawk Group
Credits available: AIA, IDCEC, USGBC-GBCI

This course assesses modern needs for higher education institutions to bring flexibility into a continuously transforming segment. Sustainability is at the forefront of higher institutional change; initiatives are made to not only reduce operating costs, but work to also attract and retain talent. The course will assert different sustainable techniques that apply to design and architecture in higher education spaces, as well as highlight major green building certification platforms that are creating specific paths for buildings to achieve their optimum potential. Topics covered include design addressing institutional needs, importance of materials, green building techniques, and various case studies.

Click here to learn more and register.

Preventing the Next Pandemic: mRNA Vaccines and siRNA oligo Therapies

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 11:49am

Originally published by CRB

Investing in promising new pharmaceutical platforms like oligonucleotide therapies could reduce the gap between first detection and total eradication in future pandemics.

The battle against our current pandemic is playing out in multiple arenas: in government assemblies, lawmakers are issuing travel bans and dusting off ancient quarantine legislation to control the disease’s spread. In local communities, neighbors are avoiding contact under the auspices of social distancing. Distilleries are producing hand sanitizerclothing manufacturers are making PPE, and clandestine online groups are crowdsourcing new ventilator designs.

Collectively, these efforts should be applauded and will help to keep us protected while the pharmaceutical world closes in on vaccines. But at what cost? Travel bans, mass quarantines, and social distancing are often insufficient and difficult to enforce—and we’ve seen what they do to the global economy. These are blunt tools that leave heavy scarring and are sure to have lasting impacts after the virus has run its course.

We have to do better than that. To me, a “better” response doesn’t mean, “Let’s get ready for the next pandemic.” It means, “Let’s prevent pandemics altogether.” Let’s leave those blunt tools to the history books and invest instead in the promising new pharmaceutical platforms that could reduce the gap between first detection and total eradication.

A new response: mRNA vaccines and siRNA oligo therapies

Many leading pharmaceutical companies are pouring resources into the development of traditional live-attenuated or inactive vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, which could lead to the cure our world needs. These are mature, well-understood therapeutic platforms that have already spared countless people from deadly infectious diseases. The downside? It can take anywhere from 18 months to three years (or more) to develop a safe and effective “live viral” vaccine, and another several years to build and license a manufacturing facility capable of producing the billions of doses that we’ll need. Although regulators and drug companies are working together to accelerate that timeline as much as possible, there’s only so much speed that we can expect from a platform that depends on culturing cells and must demonstrate efficacy and safety with each new application.

Meanwhile, two new kids in town are attracting a lot of serious attention and excitement: mRNA vaccines and siRNA oligo therapies. These modalities are so new, in fact, that no mRNA vaccine has ever advanced to commercial production, and siRNA has never been approved in an antiviral inclination or with the lungs as the target tissue. These challenges haven’t stopped biopharmaceutical innovators like ModernaCureVac, and BioNTech/Pfizer from pursuing an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, or partners Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology from doubling down on a siRNA prophylactic therapy to treat those exposed to the virus.

What makes these therapies different from traditional platforms, and why are so many pharmaceutical leaders interested in their potential?

Continue reading here

Physically Distant, Yet Socially Close: Coping With COVID-19

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:47am

I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy as we strive to adapt to these challenging circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a heavy burden on all of us in many ways -- including our mental health.

It is absolutely normal to feel fear, anxiety and stress related to COVID-19. In these times of uncertainty, we feel powerless. We fear for our health and that of our loved ones. For many of us, these are times of financial hardships. We are struggling to balance the demands of work and the needs of our families.

We are inherently social beings, and the isolation created by social distancing and “shelter in place” orders can lead to depression. The fact is, stress is a biological and psychological response experienced when we encounter a threat and feel that we do not have the resources to deal with it. At that point, all of these factors together can make life overwhelming.

One important way to stay mentally healthy during these difficult times is to remain physically distant, but socially close. Technology can help us stay connected with family and friends through phone calls, FaceTime, and other virtual gatherings. It is important to have open and honest conversations with loved ones about what they and you are feeling.

Monitoring You & Your Loved Ones’ Mental Wellness

Watch for the telltale signs of stress in yourself and others, such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, a change in eating habits, or an increase in tobacco, alcohol or drug consumption. Those who are particularly vulnerable during this stressful time are older people, those with conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19, children, first responders, healthcare workers, and people who have mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Watch for anything that is making it impossible to get on with daily activities, for instance if you or a loved one is constantly worried, checking their temperature, or immersed in news coverage of the pandemic. Other signs include becoming highly anxious, experiencing insomnia, or physical complaints like headaches or stomachaches.

Prioritizing Physical & Mental Wellness

Here are some things you and your loved ones can do to remain physically and mentally healthy:

  • Stay informed by listening to credible resources like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and try to make time for activities you personally enjoy.
  • Know your local resources, including food banks, crisis lines and virtual options to connect with a healthcare professional.
By caring for one another and ourselves, we will all get through this together.

For more information about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 response efforts, visit https://www.jnj.com/coronavirus.

HACR to Host Virtual Conferences for Remainder of 2020 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:47am

The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), the nation’s leading nonprofit focused on advancing Hispanic inclusion in corporate America, announced today that it will host all of its remaining 2020 conferences and forums virtually due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic. This includes the 28th Annual HACR Symposium and Executive Programs originally rescheduled for August 2020 in Los Angeles, the HACR Corporate Inclusion Index Awards Dinner originally scheduled for September 2020 in Washington, D.C., and the HACR Leadership Pipeline Program originally scheduled for November 2020 in Dallas.

Additionally, HACR will launch a new webinar series that will complement the upcoming virtual conferences. Both the virtual conferences and webinars will focus on four categories:

  • Symposium Track – Focused on diversity and Hispanic inclusion best practices for Corporate America.

  • Executive Programs Track – Focused on leadership advancement practices for C-suite and high-ranking Hispanic corporate executives and board directors.

  • Leadership Pipeline Program Track – Focused on enhancing Hispanic mid-level managers with leadership and managerial skills to prepare them for future high-level executive positions.

  • Research/Corporate Accountability Track – Focused on research and data-driven findings from the HACR Research Institute. 

“The safety of our attendees, staff, board, sponsors, and vendors is our top priority at HACR,” said Cid Wilson, president & CEO of HACR. “Our plans for virtual conferences and webinars not only addresses the concerns for safety during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, but gives HACR the opportunity to deliver our highly-anticipated educational content virtually throughout 2020.”

HACR will announce additional details in the coming days and weeks including webinar schedule and new dates for virtual conferences. Additionally, we will announce the 2021 dates for our return to in-person programs in the coming months.

“We thank our corporate members, sponsors, and stakeholders for their support of HACR as we pivot to a virtual platform for 2020. We pray for everyone’s safety during this global pandemic,” concluded Wilson.

About HACR

Founded in 1986, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is the nation’s leading corporate advocacy organization representing 14 national Hispanic organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Its mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America in the areas of Employment, Procurement, Philanthropy, and Governance. Through our corporate leadership advancement programs, Symposium best practice conferences, research initiatives, and public communications, HACR is illuminating The Power of Hispanic Inclusion™ throughout Corporate America.


Intel Launches First Global Challenges, Marks a New Era of Shared Corporate Responsibility

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:47am

Today, Intel released its annual Corporate Responsibility Report. The report builds on Intel’s decades of transparency in corporate responsibility and details progress Intel has made in the past decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore billions of gallons of water to local communities and achieve gender pay equity across its global workforce, among other milestones. The report also establishes a new 2030 strategy and goals for continued progress for the next decade – from achieving net positive water use, 100% green power and zero waste to landfills across our global manufacturing operations to doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles and scaling the impact of our supply chain human rights programs.

For the first time, Intel has defined global challenges that expand its commitment in resources, expertise, global reach and influence beyond its own operations to address challenges that can only be solved by collaborating across major organizations, industries and countries.

“The world is facing challenges that we understand better each day as we collect and analyze more data, but they go unchecked without a collective response – from climate change to deep digital divides around the world to the current pandemic that has fundamentally changed all our lives,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “We can solve them, but only by working together.”  

Intel committed to engage industries, governments and communities to tackle three specific global challenges over the next decade:

Revolutionize health and safety with technology 

  • Intel will work with partners in healthcare, life sciences and government to apply technology in strategic manufacturing, transportation and healthcare initiatives, including accelerating cures for diseases and improving healthcare. Its efforts will include the company’s recently announced Pandemic Response Technology Initiative, which applies cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance technology solutions to better diagnose, treat and cure COVID-19 and to help prepare for future pandemics. 

  • Intel will lead a global coalition of industry leaders toward a common objective:  The safety of autonomous vehicles should not be a point of differentiation but a shared goal.  Through collaboration with industry and governments and development of new safety technologies and standards – such as RSS and the forthcoming IEEE 2846 – that will provide clear guidance on what it means for an autonomous vehicle to drive safely, we have the potential to save more lives with autonomous vehicles when compared to human drivers.

Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness

  • Intel will work with other companies to accelerate adoption of inclusive business practices across industries by creating and implementing a Global Inclusion Index open standard. Using common metrics, it will allow the industry to track progress in area such as achieving greater levels of women and minorities in senior and technical positions, accessible technology and equal pay. Intel has already been collaborating with Lenovo to convene Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers and HR professionals to drive industry transformation and stay at the forefront of this work.

  • Intel will partner with governments and communities to address the digital divide and expand access to technology skills needed for current and future jobs. An example is the Intel® AI For Youth program, which provides AI curriculum and resources to over 100,000 high school and vocational students in 10 countries and will continue to scale globally. By 2030, Intel plans to partner with governments in 30 countries and 30,000 institutions worldwide and is committed to empower more than 30 million people with AI skills training.

Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change

  • Intel will work with PC manufacturers to create the most sustainable and energy-efficient PC in the world – one that eliminates carbon, water and waste in its design and use. Specifically, the company is exploring a sustainability roadmap that would include enabling sensor technology to reduce power usage, partnering with material vendors on recyclable packaging and developing longer-term, energy-efficient architectures.

  • Intel will collaborate with industry and policymakers to apply technology to reduce emissions across high-impact industries.

Technology is not just at the heart of breakthroughs, it plays a vital role in the global communities, governments and services that people depend on every day to solve current crises while proactively tackling future ones.

“Intel and many others in technology-driven industries see the opportunity to leverage our R&D, creativity, expertise and influence to collaborate on these critical issues and will become even stronger and more relevant as a result,” Swan said. “For Intel it’s embedded in our purpose to create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on Earth.”

With an expansive global reach, robust supply chain and strategic partnerships throughout the industry, Intel will leverage this unique mix of capabilities to tackle many of today’s problems and create the technology and partnerships that will be fundamental in rising to the challenges of tomorrow.

Intel’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report includes details of the new 2030 strategy and goals that will accelerate the adoption of responsible, inclusive and sustainable practices, enabled by Intel’s technology and the expertise and passion of its employees around the world.  <<To learn more about Intel’s Corporate Responsibility efforts read the newest CSR report here>>

The Virtual Responsible Business Week – the Future of Business at Your Finger Tips

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:47am

As we self-isolate, we must be careful not to isolate our ideas and thoughts.

We have the opportunity to ensure we deliver a clean, low-carbon and inclusive global recovery. It has never been more important for our industry to share, collaborate and inspire. For that reason, we’re hosting The Responsible Business Week, an online event and entirely free to attend.

We are humbled that our speakers and partners are going online with us, and share our belief that we must do what we can to carry on communicating at this critical time.

Check out the full, comprehensive virtual offering here, all completely free to access!

Why The Responsible Business Week Virtual is essential viewing:

  • It’s free for all to join: In such a difficult time, we want to unify the industry and we’ve taken the decision to allow anyone to sign up to listen live, ask questions and participate. If you are a corporate attendee, you’ll also get access to a full meeting service so you can set up bespoke 1-1 meetings with fellow attendees.

  • A speaker faculty even better than before: You’ll learn from 30+ speakers with 20+ free sessions with presentations, panels, fireside chats, interactive workshops and Q&A. You’ll also see hours of additional live and on-demand content, including exclusives from Unilever, Aviva, Hermes Investment, UN Environment and many more
  • Connect with industry leaders around the world: Without the constraints of geography, we’ll have thousands of industry leaders from across the globe coming together to network and collaborate.
  • Complete virtual meetings platform: Send messages to connect 1-on-1 with your fellow attendees. Schedule meetings and use a virtual private meeting room to chat.
  • Full virtual exhibition: Showcasing exhibitors, search for the latest services and technology solutions from your desk, watch demo videos and the ability to share your virtual business card.

View more info and register for the FREE virtual event here!


Ed Long and Ana Uzcanga
Ethical Corporation
Reuters Events

Read Announcement

Comerica Bank to Support $1.5 Million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund Helping Small Businesses Recover, Pivot in Response to COVID-19

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 5:47pm

Comerica Bank has teamed up with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Women Forward to support the creation of the $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund formed to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 recover from the outbreak, as well as help them meet increased demands in support of COVID-19 response efforts.

“The stability and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs significantly contribute to the economic vitality of our communities, as they provide important employment opportunities and deliver valuable goods and services,” said Mike Ritchie, Comerica Bank Michigan market president. “Supporting these businesses as they fight to survive will have a long-term impact on their success and on our cities and state. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Women Forward have proven critical in providing exceptional support to businesses, and we believe partnering in the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund will help deliver vital resources to businesses for survival and recovery.”

The $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund helps small businesses from geographically disadvantaged areas survive the outbreak through recovery efforts.

“As Michigan begins to focus on economic recovery efforts across the state, it is critical that we make sure support and relief are accessible for all entrepreneurs and small businesses in need,” said LeTasha Peebles, grant manager for the MEDC. “We’re grateful for the partnership of Michigan Women Forward in supporting this fund, which will play a key role in ensuring every member of our state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has the tools and support they need to recover from this crisis.”

The Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund will provide recovery grants of $1,000-$5,000 and microloans of $5,000-$10,000 to small businesses who are in need and have been adversely affected by COVID-19 closures, with at least 150 businesses statewide expected to benefit. Small businesses interested in applying for support through the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund can do so now by visiting miwf.org/mwf-entrepreneur-resilience-fund.

“This fund will be vital in helping small businesses throughout Michigan keep their doors open and their workers paid, while offering much-needed economic support during this unprecedented outbreak,” said Maggie McCammon, portfolio manager for the MEDC. “Michigan Women Forward has a demonstrated track record of successfully providing holistic support for small businesses across the state and MEDC looks forward to working together with them and the other supporting partners as our state moves toward recovery.”

“At Michigan Woman Forward, we are dedicating ourselves to doing everything we possibly can to help Michigan’s small businesses re-open and recover from this crisis,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO, MWF. “Funding is just the beginning. We will also pair our entrepreneurs with experts to help answer questions and guide their decision making at this critical time.”

Funds awarded through the program can be used to support small businesses in managing expenses through the recovery phase, including rent, payroll, and inventory. The fund can also advance business growth by providing working capital to assist with increased product or service demand in response to COVID-19, to allow a company to revamp their business virtually through a strengthened online presence, or to start up a company to meet a new demand as a result of COVID-19.

The $1.5 million fund includes support of $500,000 from MEDC and $500,000 from Michigan Women Forward’s SBA microlending funds, along with partners including Consumers Energy Foundation, the New Economy Initiative, General Motors Corporation, Fifth Third Bank and Comerica Bank. Michigan Women Forward is also working with other potential funding partners to provide additional opportunities for grants and loans through the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund.

Applicants will be evaluated on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. Eligible candidates will be prioritized based on demonstrated need, including, but not limited to:

  • Being located in a disadvantaged area within a U.S. Small Business Administration designated HubZone or Opportunity Zone;

  • Demonstrating status as a low- to moderate-income borrower;

  • And qualifying as a diverse business that can demonstrate ownership by underrepresented groups including, but not limited to, veterans, minorities and low-income men and women.

Other resources for businesses across Michigan to assist them in recovering from economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at michiganbusiness.org/covid19. This site includes resources offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pure Michigan Business Connect procurement platform, support services offered through the Small Business Development Center and more. The MEDC has also developed a FAQ for Michigan businesses and communities at michiganbusiness.org/covid19-faq.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus  and CDC.gov/Coronavirus .

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8AM – 5PM daily.

About Michigan Women Forward

In 1986, 20 extraordinary visionaries conceived of an organization that would encourage women to play an active role in philanthropy and governance. Today, MWF focuses on these primary pillars: Accelerating Women’s Entrepreneurship, Developing the Next Generation of Young Women Leaders, Sharing Women’s History and Leading the State’s Women’s Agenda, which includes the Enough SAID campaign to end the backlog of untested rape kits in Detroit. MWF also operates the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame Center in Lansing. For more information, visit www.miwf.org .

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook InstagramLinkedIn  and Twitter.

About Comerica Bank

Comerica Bank, a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated, has served Michigan longer than any other bank with a continuous presence dating back 170 years to its Detroit founding in 1849. It is the largest bank employer in metro Detroit and has more than 4,700 employees (FTE) statewide. With one of the largest banking center networks in Michigan, Comerica nurtures lifelong relationships with unwavering integrity and financial prudence. Comerica positively impacts the lives of Michigan residents by helping customers be successful, providing financial support that assists hundreds of charitable organizations, and actively participating in Detroit’s downtown revitalization. Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA) is a financial services company strategically aligned by three business segments: The Business Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Follow on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

Xylem and UNICEF Partner to Provide COVID-19 Relief and Safe Water for Children, Families in Vulnerable Communities Around the World

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 5:47pm

Xylem Watermark, the corporate citizenship program of global water technology company Xylem Inc. (NYSE: XYL), today announced support for UNICEF’s COVID-19 relief efforts. The partnership will provide access to safe water and sanitation for vulnerable children and families. Xylem’s COVID-19 contribution will be directed to the most at-risk communities, providing critical supplies and supporting UNICEF’s community health programs and youth engagement initiatives. UNICEF’s COVID-19 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) response targets at-risk, low-capacity countries to secure WASH services and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in health facilities, schools, households and community settings.

“The role of water in family and community health is fundamental, and has only become more important during this pandemic,” said Patrick Decker, Xylem’s president and chief executive officer. “Communities with access to water, sanitation and hygiene have a strong first line of defense in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. And as communities come together to help each other, we feel privileged to work with partners like UNICEF to bring them some extra help – especially the most vulnerable children and families – so they can keep themselves and those around them safe and healthy.”

“UNICEF is incredibly grateful for the commitment of partners like Xylem so we can continue providing lifesaving supplies and support for every child, such as access to safe water and sanitation facilities,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, president & CEO, UNICEF USA. “Continuing to help the most vulnerable communities is vitally important during these unprecedented times.”

Xylem Watermark’s support for UNICEF’s COVID-19 response is part of a broader commitment that aims to improve the health of low-income families through water, sanitation and hygiene education and infrastructure, around the world. The partnership builds on a decade of WASH educational programming, and scales the reach of the impact around the world to youth and communities most in need – through in schools, healthcare facilities and early childhood centers.

With UNICEF’s work in 190 countries, the partnership will contribute to achieving Xylem’s 2025 sustainability goals, including commitments to education and disaster-response, and to progress toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

For more information about Xylem’s COVID-19 support efforts, visit here https://www.xylem.com/en-us/covid-19-response/global-coronavirus-actions/.


Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to solving critical water and infrastructure challenges with technological innovation. Our more than 16,000 diverse employees delivered revenue of $5.25 billion in 2019. We are creating a more sustainable world by enabling our customers to optimize water and resource management, and helping communities in more than 150 countries become water-secure. Join us at www.xylem.com.


Xylem Watermark, the Company’s corporate citizenship program, was initiated in 2008, with a focus on protecting and providing safe water resources around the world and also educating people on water-related issues. The global initiative, which encompasses employee and stakeholder engagement, provides access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and humanitarian emergency response to help communities become more water-secure and sustainable. Last year, the program exceeded its three-year goal to log 100,000 employee volunteer hours and engaged ~45 percent of the company’s global employee base.


The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org

The Road to a Vaccine, Ep. 5: How Nurses Are Battling the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 5:47pm

This new eight-episode educational video series will examine the latest efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and break down the complex process of developing a vaccine.

Each week our host Lisa Ling will talk to leading scientists and researchers, healthcare workers on the front lines and public health experts around the world working collaboratively to help bring an end to the deadly pandemic.

In Episode 5, host Lisa Ling speaks with nurse Nicole Lincoln MS, RN, FNP-BC, CCNS who’s on the frontlines in the ICU fighting COVID-19 and nursing innovator, Rebecca Love RN, BS, MSN, FIEL, who’s leading the charge to advocate for her profession.

Also, Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington joins us to speak about her First Responders First program, a joint partnership with Johnson & Johnson to support the mental health and resilience of frontline healthcare workers. Husseini K. Manji, MD, FRCPC, Johnson & Johnson, discusses the effects the pandemic is having on the mental health of all people, and what you can do to take care of yourself and others. Activist Michelle Elman talks about recovering from COVID-19. Plus, Macaya Douoguih, Head of Clinical Development, Janssen Vaccines, shares the challenges of creating a vaccine for clinical use.

Tune in live at 12 pm EDT Tuesdays on JNJ.comFacebookLinkedIn or Twitter. Come back to this page at any time to watch a replay.

VF Corporation Donates More Than $10.3 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 2:47pm

Known for producing some of the world's most iconic apparel and footwear, VF Corporation has quickly pivoted in recent weeks to help stem the urgent needs of healthcare workers and those struggling to cope in the face of a historic pandemic.

Since early March, VF Corporation, The VF Foundation, and the VF family of brands have used a people-first approach to make critical decisions about how to do the most good battling COVID-19. The result: more than $10.3 million worth of support in the fight against COVID-19.

"Through the efforts of our family of brands and the VF Foundation, we are using our size, scale and purpose-led commitments to be a force for good," said Steve Rendle, VF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Collectively, our aim is to help millions of people around the world, especially those who are on the frontlines and in the most vulnerable communities.”

Supporting those in need, now

VF has donated more than $7 million in cash to directly support emergency responders, provide testing kits, medical supplies and help the financially vulnerable access food and social services. The donations include more than $2 million from VF Corporation and The VF Foundation to provide medical supplies, aid to healthcare workers, and food and social services in countries without strong social support systems.

Meanwhile, Altra®, Dickies®, Eagle Creek®, Icebreaker®, JanSport®, Smartwool®, The North Face®, Timberland®, and Vans® will collectively donate as much as $5 million in funds to help fight the pandemic.  

Through the "Foot the Bill" program, Vans will donate up to $4 million to help keep local skate shops afloat through the crisis. Vans partnered with local and community-driven skate shops, restaurants, art galleries, and music venues to design Vans Custom footwear. Net proceeds from the sale of each pair of the custom shoes will go directly to small business partners in this critical time of need.

VF outdoor brands will also donate nearly $55,000 to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). The funds will directly support OIA's small business members by providing the necessary tools, resources, and advocacy to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis, as well as help sustain OIA's core work.

Through its social impact and advocacy platform – The Explore Fund – The North Face committed $1 million to support outdoor communities that make exploration possible worldwide. Working with national and local outdoor officials, The North Face will make sure those funds meet the most critical, immediate needs through recovery.

The need for products is also pressing. Working with World Central Kitchen, JanSport® donated 12,000 backpacks to help feed families across the country.

"Every day, the National School Lunch Program serves more than 30-million meals to children in our schools. With schools closed, millions of kids will go hungry," said Monica Rigali, Senior Director of Marketing, JanSport®. "Working with World Central Kitchen, we are packing our backpacks with needed food and supplies to make sure these children continue to receive nutritious meals throughout the pandemic."

In total, VF brands have donated more than $3.2 million worth of products providing warmth and protection to frontline healthcare and essential workers. Donations include: 

  • 60,000 pairs of gloves from The North Face

  • 40,000 pairs of Vans shoelaces for face masks

  • 24,000 pairs of Vans shoes

  • 12,000 Jansport backpacks

  • 7,000 Kipling waist packs

  • 15,000 pairs of Smartwool socks

  • 1,475 pairs of Timberland PRO nursing shoes and Timberland work boots

  • 130 The North Face down jackets

Pivoting to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

VF was able to take advantage of the existing expertise of Dickies and VF workwear brands, which already manufacture protective gear such as scrubs, lab coats, and disposable coveralls, to help the company pivot quickly to making isolation gowns. Last month, VF and Dickies began producing urgently needed medical gowns for U.S. healthcare workers with the capacity to manufacture 3.4 million gowns by September. The gowns will be distributed to communities throughout the U.S. in cooperation with federal and state government leaders.

"Dickies has stood alongside generations of workers, and in light of these unprecedented times, we're joining in the effort to help healthcare professionals on the frontlines," said Denny Bruce, Dickies Global Brand President. "As a heritage brand that goes to work, especially when the work gets tough, we are committed to equipping these workers with the critical medical garments they need to protect themselves as they continue the fight against this pandemic."

VF teams are making other forms of PPE as well, bringing PPE production to 3.6 million total pieces, including:

  • 250,000 Vans canvas face masks

  • 15,000 surgical masks

  • 1,600 face masks

Taking Care of VF’s Essential Workers

VF is also taking care of essential workers keeping the company's distribution and manufacturing centers open and running. These associates ensure consumers, medical professionals, first responders and essential workers have the gear they need including scrubs, overalls, and other required apparel. The company is providing up to 14 days of emergency leave pay to distribution center employees in the U.S. and Canada. In other regions, VF continues to provide full compensation to distribution center workers in accordance with local laws.

Distribution centers implemented increased safety protocols and procedures that include mandatory use of face masks, fewer people on each shift, and strict physical distancing at workstations, in common areas and throughout the facilities. Sanitation procedures are more stringent, and associates receive temperature screening before entering the facilities. VF also provided training videos, fliers, and posters with health and safety information.

Factories manufacturing PPE are also practicing high safety standards to protect workers in instances beyond the requirements of local and national guidance. Factories implemented safety protocol and procedures that include strict social distancing in buses transporting workers to and from the factory, in the facility, and common areas such as the cafeteria. Sanitation procedures are more stringent, and workers and visitors receive temperature screening before entering the facilities. VF also provided training videos, fliers, and posters with health and safety information.

VF is committed to supporting essential manufacturing associates financially during the crisis. While its owned factories in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras were closed, associates continued to receive compensation at or above government guidelines. As associates return to work to make isolation gowns in Mexico, they have the opportunity to increase their earnings to production hourly rates. For a small subset of workers who cannot return to work because they are high-risk or must self-isolate, VF is also continuing pay at or above government guidelines.

Fulfilling Commitments

VF continues to take a people-first approach with its international suppliers and remains committed to ensuring that workers are paid for the manufacturing of its products. VF is paying suppliers for all orders that have already been produced, as well as honoring all valid purchase orders with a factory release date before June 1, 2020. And, when a shipment must be delayed, VF engages with its suppliers to determine if the delay will create a cashflow challenge for the supplier. If so, VF will work with the supplier to support their financial needs through a variety of potential solutions. 

VF is also a signatory of the International Labor Organization’s Global Call to Action for Garment Industry Workers along with the IOE, IndustriALL, and other international apparel brands.    

The VF Foundation also donated $200,000 to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and the Philippines, some of the most vulnerable countries in VF's supply chain and home to millions of people who make up the garment industry. These countries are seeing widespread layoffs with no system of national support to help the unemployed meet basic needs.

Supporting the Enterprise

While helping healthcare workers and the COVID-19 response is critically important, VF continues to focus on protecting and supporting the global enterprise and all VF associates.

In early April, Rendle announced he would temporarily reduce his base salary by 50% while the VF executive leadership team would receive a 25% salary reduction. VF's Board of Directors also agreed to forgo their cash retainers. The money saved will help provide continued pay and benefits to VF's employees.

Retail associates in North America will receive 100% pay and benefits through May with further monitoring and evaluation moving forward.

In EMEA, where employees will soon return to work with restrictions, government support programs helped protect pay for all employees in the region. VF temporarily reduced work hours for employees while keeping salaries at or above 95% of regular pay for office workers, and wholesale and distribution center employees. Retail workers received full compensation.

Associates Supporting Their Neighbors

VF is supporting COVID-19 relief efforts at every opportunity, even at an individual level. VF employees worldwide are contributing to the cause in inspiring ways, including 3D-printing supplies, hand-making cloth masks, delivering food to people in need, donating personal funds to non-profit agencies, organizing group workout sessions to keep people healthy and engaged, sharing their artwork, and so much more.

To learn more about VF, The VF Foundation and its family of brands, please see the VFC.com.


About VF Corporation: 

Founded in 1899, VF Corporation is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies connecting people to the lifestyles, activities and experiences they cherish most through a family of iconic outdoor, active and workwear brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland® and Dickies®. Our purpose is to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. We connect this purpose with a relentless drive to succeed to create value for all stakeholders and use our company as a force for good. For more information, please visit VFC.com.

Village Capital Accepting Applications for Latin America Entrepreneur Support Program

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 2:47pm

Village Capital today announced the launch of applications for Finance Forward Latin America 2020, the second iteration of an investment-readiness program for early-stage financial health startups in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

“This program comes as the coronavirus pandemic is spreading across Latin America. This has had a profound impact on not only healthcare but also the financial health of people across the region,” said Allie Burns, CEO at Village Capital. “According to the IDB, more than 140M Latin Americans are informally employed, which results in major instability for them and their families, much more so during this crisis”.[3]

Twelve startups will be selected to participate in three workshops focused on supporting entrepreneurs in Latin America who are working on solving systemic inequalities that have existed for a long time and have become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating startups will benefit from twelve days of training with a focus on improving their investment readiness and making their solutions available for those who need them most in the current economic climate. Each company will work closely with mentors, potential clients and partners, as well as investors they need to scale their impact. The top two peer-selected companies will be eligible to receive $50,000 each in grant funding from MetLife Foundation.

“Financial services act as a stabilizing force for low- and moderate-income people, enabling them to build resilience for a more confident future," said Nalleli García, CSR and Manager at MetLife Foundation. "Challenging times further underscore the importance of being prepared to face financial shocks. We look forward to applications from startups that are committed to serving lower-income segments of the market.”

“Fintech can be a powerful force for economic stability and mobility in Latin America” said Daniel Cossío, Regional Manager at Village Capital in Latin America. “We've already seen how this crisis has had the most devastating financial effect on the low-income population. Now more than ever we need tech-driven innovation to help small businesses stay afloat and help families manage their income and support the region in what is bound to be a challenging recovery.”

The program is a part of Finance Forward, a multi-year global coalition led by founding partners MetLife Foundation and PayPal to support entrepreneurs on four continents who are building tech-enabled solutions to place-based challenges around financial health. Last year’s program, Finance Forward Latin America 2019, supported ventures from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.

“At PayPal we are always working to help people join the global economy and achieve financial health. We are happy to collaborate one more year with Village Capital to support these new startups and entrepreneurs that are the strongest pillars of our economies. Given the struggle and challenges businesses are facing across the world, alliances like this are more important than ever and it is a privilege to be part of this,” said Julie Vennewitz-Pierce, Head of Philanthropic Programs at PayPal. 

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses in Latin America continue to be adversely disrupted by COVID-19,” said Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, Global Head of CSR and President at Moody’s Foundation. “As the region navigates its relief and recovery efforts, access to capital and investment-readiness programs will be paramount for entrepreneurs looking to safeguard and scale their operations. We’re proud to partner on Finance Forward Latin America 2020 and look forward to supporting the selected participants during this unprecedented crisis.” 

All startups that apply to the program will be invited to join Abaca, Village Capital’s global online network that helps entrepreneurs evaluate their business and identify the next milestones they need to obtain to keep scaling, and matches them with the right investors and resources.

Applications close on May 15 2020. Full details and eligibility criteria can be found at this link.

About Village Capital

Village Capital is the largest organization in the world supporting impact-driven, seed-stage startups. Since 2009 our team has directly worked with more than 1,100 entrepreneurs in 28 countries, and our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in 110 startups that have gone on to raise more than $500 million in follow-on capital. To learn more, visit www.vilcap.com or follow @villagecapital.

About MetLife Foundation

At MetLife Foundation, we believe financial health belongs to everyone. We bring together bold solutions, deep financial expertise and meaningful grants to build financial health for people and communities that are underserved and aspire for more. We partner with organizations around the world to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2019, MetLife Foundation provided more than $860 million in grants and $85 million in program- related investments to make a positive impact in the communities where MetLife operates. To date, our financial health work has reached 9.9 million low-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit metlife.org.

About PayPal

PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering more than 300 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information, visit www.paypal.com.

About Moody’s Corporation

Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) is a global integrated risk assessment firm that empowers organizations to make better decisions. Our data, analytical solutions and insights help decision-makers identify opportunities and manage the risks of doing business with others. We believe that greater transparency, more informed decisions, and fair access to information open the door to shared progress. With over 11,000 employees in more than 40 countries, Moody’s combines international presence with local expertise and over a century of experience in financial markets. Learn more at moodys.com/about.

Moody’s builds toward a world where more people have access to opportunity, and where everyone has what they need to grow and thrive. We are committed to opening the door to brighter futures through our global corporate social responsibility programs connecting people around the world with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. For more information visit moodys.com/csr.

HP Graphics Print Providers Continue to Support the Health and Well‐being of Local Communities

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 2:47pm

HP Inc. together with its global network of print service providers (PSPs) continue to innovate printing applications to help medical teams, businesses and the public adapt in the ongoing effort to combat COVID-19.

“We are living through a time that is very unique to our human experience. The COVID-19 pandemic creates a new paradigm in how we relate to each other and today, so many people need help. Each day I am humbled and inspired by these shining examples of humanity and hope as the global print community is coming together for our global communities’ health and well-being,” said Haim Levit, global head, Worldwide Industrial Indigo and PWI Commercial at HP.

Printing personalize protective gear for patient and medical worker well-being 

As it is difficult to see faces behind medical personal protective equipment, many patients, especially the elderly, find it a frightening “alien” experience. Two medical students in Israel launched the “More than Masks” movement on Facebook calling for photos on the medical COVID-19 suits and gear. The page attracted the attention of HP Indigo team employees who helped launch the project by supporting the printing of the first 70,000 photo stickers.

To date, 200,000 photo stickers have been printed by HP and print partners, and donated to an estimated 2000 medical personnel at 16 hospitals in Israel. “The doctors were very excited that they feel more comfortable getting closer to patients with the ability to introduce themselves and the patients were also very moved,” said Nisim Asayag, founder of the project along with fellow student Anat Skliar. In addition, the photo stickers help the medical staff identify each other for better teamwork. The 5.8 x 8.3-inch size photo stickers feature a smiling face with their name and function. The medical teams stick them directly on their protective gowns and then dispose of them at the end of the shift. Free templates for downloading can be found here

Sending a real print hug to frontline workers at hard-hit hospitals 

Postable, a US web-to-print greeting card company, is offering an online service to create and mail thank you cards to frontline workers. They are donating 100% of the profits from these cards to the Frontline Responders Fund to help get critical supplies to frontline hospital workers combating COVID-19. You can send a card, printed on HP Indigo digital presses at Mercury Printing in Memphis, by visiting their website, picking a design, selecting a hospital from a list of hard hit areas and typing a message of love and encouragement to the brave medical workers saving lives. Postable prints, addresses and mails the cards to the hospitals on a daily basis.

Helping restaurants stay afloat with sealed delivery boxes

Around the world, restaurants have closed their doors to dine-in patrons, leaving delivery or curb-side takeout as the only option to survive through these difficult times. CompanyBox, a Charlotte, NC based converter printing on the HP PageWide C500 Press with water-based ink compatible for food applications, developed a takeout box and bakery box with a single use seal, which keeps the food securely inside until the recipient removes the adhesive tear strip.

“Restaurants have had to close their doors to dine-in patrons. Other small businesses that are part of the restaurant supply chain are also suffering, businesses like farms, bakeries, breweries and wineries. We decided to respond. We hope this added peace of mind drives more takeout orders and helps all those involved,” said Louie DeJesus, CEO of CompanyBox. CompanyBox has started a program to donate the first 100 boxes free to any local Charlotte restaurants, and plans to produce 100,000 boxes in total.

Mobilizing fabric design community to produce and donate face masks 

Spoonflower, based in the US and Germany, is a digital printing company and design community that utilizes HP Stitch technology to print custom fabrics for fashion and décor applications. The Spoonflower team has established the Spoonflower Mask Response Project to mobilize its in-house sewing team to design patterns for knit gaiter and double-layer cotton styles, and its community of designers to design, produce and donate masks to healthcare workers on the front lines. Watch tutorials from the Spoonflower team on how to sew a mask.  

Due to high interest, more than 5,800 yards of fabric has been produced for mask makers to sew an estimated 70,000 masks for healthcare workers on the front lines. “We are energized and motivated by how quickly our creatives and entrepreneurs have mobilized and leveraged their talents for the greater good, supplementing the PPE shortage with non-medical grade fabric masks,” said Michael Jones, CEO, Spoonflower.   

Producing hand sanitizer to help hospitals with shortages 

The HP Graphic Arts Experience Center in Barcelona launched the printing of labels for INEOS of France to donate millions of bottles of hand sanitizers to hospitals across France, UK, Germany and the USA suffering from shortages and lack of supplies. HP’s support for the production of the first 150,000 labels helped the delivery of millions of bottles to hospitals across France just ten days after the plan was announced. See how it all happened in this video.  

Bringing sustenance to frontline workers 

Baker Labels of the UK is donating three million labels printed on the HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press for the Salute the National Health Service (NHS) campaign, aimed to provide a million meals to NHS staff over the next three months. The nutritious ‘boost’ meal packs are for vital frontline NHS staff working either in hospitals or those sick and confined to isolation at home. They hope to be doing around 10,000 meals a day in the coming weeks and expand across the country to targeted locations.

“We are in a position to be able to manufacture the number of labels required and to be flexible on quantities, variations and demand. With the added support from our material suppliers at Avery Dennison, who have agreed to donate 15000 square metres of material, I’m proud to be part of the team of suppliers collaborating to get this done,” said Steve Baker, managing director, Baker Labels. Read more about Baker and the NHS campaign.  

About HP

HP Inc. creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our product and service portfolio of personal systems, printers, and 3D printing solutions, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at http://www.hp.com

Media Contact

Vanessa Forbes, HP

NIna Gilbert, HP

Mohawk Increases PPE Manufacturing, Donates Face Shields and Protective Gowns to the ASPCA®

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 11:46am

Mohawk Industries is donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) to ensure the safety of their staff working in communities greatly impacted by COVID-19. The effort helps ensure staff feel safe and comfortable while continuing to care for and protect animals across the country.

“The ASPCA is deeply committed to protecting vulnerable animals and keeping pets and their families together by helping shelters and pet owners access the resources and information they need during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rebecca Frommer, director of cause partnerships and events, ASPCA.

The ASPCA has expanded its work to meet the current needs of pet owners and the animal welfare community by launching the ASPCA COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative. The initiative brings lifesaving services to pet owners and animals most in need, and the ASPCA is committed to helping approximately 200,000 animals nationally through its efforts. By providing access to free pet food, supplies, veterinary care, emergency boarding, information and crucial funding, the ASPCA is comprehensively addressing the most urgent needs of pet owners and animal shelters across the country, helping to keep animals safe and healthy. The donated PPE from Mohawk allows the ASPCA to balance the safety of its staff with the important work to help vulnerable animals and communities in need.

Supporting the ASPCA with PPE further demonstrates Mohawk’s long-standing commitment to homes with pets. Mohawk has several hard and soft flooring product lines featuring All Pet Protection & Warranty, the only pet-friendly protection system that covers all pets, all accidents, all the time.

“We care about our communities and the furry friends that make them even more special,” noted Bart Hill, senior vice president of product development and operations, Mohawk Home. “When the ASPCA shared their need for PPE, we jumped on board quickly. It’s gratifying work to help those stepping up to fight against COVID-19.”

Mohawk has dedicated its Antioch Road facility in Dalton and its location on Marine Drive in Calhoun to manufacture face shields and protective gowns for local medical centers, law enforcement agencies, first responders and others in need. Mohawk produces 10,000 face shields as well as about 5,000 protective gowns a day. To learn more about the company’s COVID-19-related efforts, visit www.mohawkflooring.com.

About Mohawk

Mohawk Industries is a leading global flooring manufacturer that creates products to enhance residential and commercial spaces around the world. Mohawk’s vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution processes provide competitive advantages in the production of carpet, rugs, ceramic tile, laminate, wood, stone and vinyl flooring. Our industry-leading innovation has yielded products and technologies that differentiate our brands in the marketplace and satisfy all remodeling and new construction requirements. Our brands are among the most recognized in the industry and include Mohawk, American Olean, Daltile, Durkan, Feltex, Godfrey Hirst, IVC, Karastan, Marazzi, Pergo, Quick-Step and Unilin. During the past decade, Mohawk has transformed its business from an American carpet manufacturer into the world’s largest flooring company with operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

About the ASPCA

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

ZLI Bearanoia Campaign Promotes Mental Health Awareness

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:46pm

The Zoological Lighting Institute™ has launched ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign, drawing attention to light related mental health challenges. A multi-faceted campaign, ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign directly supports scientific research into bear photobiology across the ZLI Framework™ (Photo-physiology, Sensory Ecology and Integrative Biology). The initiative has great importance in highlighting mental health challenges related to animals and the environment, as ZLI seeks to improve animal care and wildlife conservation while encouraging attention to a crucial human need. At the heart of ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign is the relationship between the natural environment and mental health. In order to combat (and mitigate the real costs) of anxiety and denial in the face of wildlife loss and animal suffering, ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign seeks catharsis through science.

ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign supports research that connects light and mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as more than simply an absence of neurological disease. The WHO defines mental health as inclusive of subjective well-being maintained across social, physical and mental conditions. This multi-cultural definition suggests that the physiological damage that artificial light at night (ALAN) causes, is accompanied by additional mental and social harm across a wide variety of international contexts. ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign turns to bears in this mental health context, as the all too familiar phenomena of repetitive pacing or ‘bear rocking’ has been tied closely to environmental factors.

"According to peer reviewed research published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science1, repetitive pacing is ‘indicative of an animal who is coping with stress by “disengaging from [its] environment” through repetitive, goal-less behavior’. According to the study, limitation of environmental factors significantly contributes to the induction of repetitive pacing. This onset may be temporary or permanent, occurring at any age of a bear’s life. Despite no obvious physical ailments, this mental detachment prevents an affected animal from engaging with other animals and in general, the world around it. While ZLI promotes understanding that artificial light limits environmental conditions in a similar way, there is a broader issue concerning bears themselves. While responsible zoos have attempted desperately over the years to address repetitive pacing through a variety of enrichment schemes and exhibit modifications, a major challenge obviated by this new research relates to wild bears attempting to function in their ecological niches. Mental health is at least as important as physical health, and ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign seeks to open conversations regarding the mental impacts of habitat loss and degradation in a multi-faceted and layered way, for bears and humans alike. 

“Physical and mental health are closely linked, but it is not always obvious how”, noted ZLI Executive Director James Karl Fischer PhD. “ZLI focuses on the importance of environmental light, but really the subject of anxiety and mental illness go way beyond this for people and non-human animals alike. Overwhelming stress, whether due to watching horrendous wildlife declines or seeing individual animals suffer, is unbearable. Denial sets in as a coping mechanism, making problems worse. While ZLI wishes to improve animal care and conserve wildlife in the most effective (i.e. scientific) way for the sake of animals themselves, the main challenge has always been the unfounded human anxieties that prevent the application of scientifically informed solutions. ZLI will provide scholarships and grants to deal with light related challenges, and we also we invite responsible zoos to study stress-related lighting issues by measuring light in their facilities properly. ZLI can help.”

ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign is set to fund research in the form of grants, scholarships and post-doctorates (when available). It advocates new standards in the managed care of bears, which include proper light measurements over time on a regular basis. ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign includes bears of all species. ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign funds photo-physiology, sensory ecology and integrative photo-biology projects. Candidates for the initial grant distribution will be selected on 1 July 2020, with a post-doctorate to be announced formally on 1 September 2020. For more information about ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign, or to learn how to sponsor or donate to help bears and to alleviate undue human fears over environmental challenges, please do visit <<www.zoolighting.org>>. The Campaign features an upcoming film ‘Bearanoia’, which in conjunction with PhotoDiversity Films will begin shooting in Sitka, Alaska as soon as investments and sponsorships are secured. To find out more, please reach out to The Zoological Lighting Institute at bearanoia@zoolighting.org.

Isabelle T. Cless, Heather A. Voss-Hoynes, Roy E. Ritzmann, Kristen E. Lukas, “Defining pacing quantitatively: A comparison of gait characteristics between pacing and non-repetitive locomotion in zoo-housed polar bears”, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 169, 2015, Pages 78-85, ISSN 0168-1591, (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2015.04.002.)
Keywords: Pacing; Abnormal behavior; Zoo animals; Polar bears; Gait

The World Health Organization, Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020-2030.
ISBN 978 92 4 150602 1 © World Health Organization 2013 [N LM classification : WM 101) ISSN 1020-3311


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