Logically, I’ve always known it was true; Gap Foundation has a profound impact on people and communities around the world. But knowing is not everything.
My brain has known that Gap Foundation changes lives. This is the story of how my heart came to understand what Be what’s possible really means.
My enlightenment came from one person. She doesn’t work here at Gap Inc., or for Gap Foundation. Her name is Olis Simmons. She’s the founding CEO of Youth UpRising, an agency dedicated to developing the leadership of youth and young adults in East Oakland, California. I can’t do her story justice, so here’s Olis Simmons, in her own words:
“I represent all of the organizations you have supported over the past 35 years,” she told us. “Most importantly, I represent all of the people that your investments touch.”
“I met with dozens of traditional and non-traditional community groups before opening in May 2005. I met with the smallest churches and largest motorcycle clubs. In one meeting, I learned the power of what Gap calls being what’s possible. After an impassioned presentation to an elected official, he told me young people in East Oakland could not be saved and shared stories of his failed attempts. As he talked, I realized why I would succeed where he could not. When he was done, I told him “I am one of those young people, and somebody saved me.”
Olis explained the idea of “partnership,” saying dollars are important, but it’s skills-based volunteering that provides a longer-lasting impact. Youth UpRising has partnerships with Gap Inc.’s Legal and Human Resource Departments, as well as with our brands.
“This community investment is authentic, meaningful, and ever-available,” she said. “There is so much to be proud of, and so on behalf of all of your community partners, congratulations on 35 impactful years.”
Olis Simmons showed me the difference between knowing and feeling what Gap Foundation does. I walked away with a much clearer understanding of the impact Gap Foundation truly has, both globally and in our local communities. She inspired me to take Be what’s possible to heart. My brain and my heart are now in sync.