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Social Impact

Why We Are Making Changes to Our Social Impact Efforts

Deji Olukotun

Corporate Social Responsibility Lead

Our Corporate Social Responsibility lead Deji Olukotun shares how Sonos is adjusting our philanthropy efforts to address a rapidly evolving landscape for nonprofits, whose work is simultaneously at risk and more in need than ever, and how you can help make an impact this Giving Tuesday.

At Sonos, listening better includes making adjustments to our giving strategy based on what we hear from the communities where we live and work. In 2018, we decided to concentrate our philanthropic efforts on supporting youth music education around the world through a program called Sonos Soundwaves. Over the past two years, the initiative has provided children in need with opportunities to think creatively, raise academic achievement, develop social skills, and prepare for successful futures. We are thrilled with the results of the initiative and are proud of the work we’ve done with these incredible organizations.

And then, 2020.

The past year has been marked by unprecedented social, environmental, and economic upheaval in every community. It’s affected all of us. Over 40% of US adults reported adverse mental health issues in June—more than double the number for 20181—with Black, Latinx, and Indigenous groups disproportionately affected. At the same time, we’ve been deeply inspired by acts of bravery, resilience, and hope as people have confronted difficult situations and helped heal their families and neighbors.

The world has changed, and we need to as well. We need to do more. We responded to the racial justice crisis by matching employee donations to the Emergency Fund for Racial Justice, and to COVID-19 by producing over 30,000 face shields and giving to artistic organizations in need.

And we continue to believe in the power of music to effect positive change. So, we’ve decided to expand Soundwaves to include causes that use music for healing and resilience. We are excited to welcome nine new nonprofits to the Soundwaves family. These organizations all have one thing in common—they create positive change and build strength in communities through the power of music.

To kick things off, we are donating 10% of our revenue from Giving Tuesday2 to these new organizations. (And speakers too, of course.) Additionally, through Sonos Radio, our free to use streaming music service, we’re donating ad space to nonprofits to raise awareness about the amazing work they do.

140.9% of US adults polled by the CDC in June reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, up from 19.1% in 2018 -- a 114% increase in adverse mental or behavioral health conditions in the general public. Musicians battle mental health conditions at a 4 times the rate of the general population. 45% of Jazz Foundation of America clients live below the poverty line.

2Maximum donation of $175,000.

Welcome to Our New Soundwaves Partners

Hush Foundation, creating calming music for children's hospitals and other stressful environments, and theater plays that provoke conversations about health care

Music Heals Us, providing free bedside concerts to hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Miracles of Music, using music therapy to promote healing in the Netherlands

Heaps Decent, empowering diverse young people to express their creativity through music and multimedia

United Borders*, teaching youth sound design and beatmaking on a double-decker bus in distressed neighborhoods in London

SMASH Seattle, providing medical care and mental wellness support to Seattle area musicians

Jazz Foundation of America, offering social services and medical care to indigent jazz musicians

Drake Music, an organization teaching music to youth and using technology to build innovative and accessible new instruments for people with disabilities

Guitars 4 Vets, providing free guitars and music lessons to veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder

*United Borders is a previous Sonos Soundwaves grantee.

We remain steadfastly committed to our focus on music education, which remains a central part of our social impact work. And, I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this new group of nonprofits dedicated to creating healing and resilience through the power of music. I encourage you to visit their websites or follow them on social media to learn more about their work and how you can help.

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Photo Credit: Sonos / Urban Arts Partnership by Bayo Olukotun
Main Image Photo Credit
Richard Corman
Richard Corman
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