November 2020 All-Star Partner Feature: H-E-B

What do H-E-B, an award-winning brand and one of the nation’s largest retailers, and Code2College, a lean, start-up nonprofit, have in common? Both were born in Texas; each has a keen focus on delivering value to its stakeholders; and a deep commitment to community investment is built into the DNA of these two organizations.

Let’s zoom out for a moment.

Just as H-E-B started with one store, Code2College started with one school district. Four years ago, Matt Stephenson, Code2College CEO & Co-Founder, and his wife co-founded the organization with only 30 students, 6 volunteers, and 2 Austin ISD high schools. And as our programming has expanded to serve eight school districts across three regions (including San Antonio and Philadelphia), so has our partnership with corporate partners invested in driving genuine and lasting change within the STEM landscape and traditionally underresourced communities. A core part of H-E-B’s Bold Promise is to “make each and every person count,” so it should come as no surprise that H-E-B has partnered with Code2College on our mission to dramatically increase the number of minority and low-income high school students who enter and excel in STEM majors and careers.  

Our relationship with H-E-B began just two and half years ago when Jag Bath, Chief Digital Officer of H-E-B and Chief Executive Officer and President of Favor Delivery, heard Matt’s pitch (VIDEO) while serving as a judge during the 2018 Austin Philanthropitch event. Impressed with the Code2College program model and seeing an opportunity to invest in the diverse tech talent pipeline in Austin, Jag committed to hiring two Code2College high school students to intern with Favor Delivery – a wholly owned subsidiary of H-E-B – that same night. Two Summers later, H-E-B and Favor Delivery have hosted six Code2College high school Summer internships on a variety of software development and engineering teams. And the report from our Code2College interns? Each and every H-E-B Partner invested deeply in their development and exposure, and despite being early on in their careers that they recognized that H-E-B was an ideal workplace for them.

In fact, for three years running, H-E-B was named the #1 top-rated workplace for retailers by Indeed. It should come as no surprise that H-E-B’s focus on employee satisfaction, creating an inclusive workplace and fostering community investment has resulted in Code2College recruiting phenomenal volunteers from H-E-B and Favor Delivery. Volunteers like Grant Slape, DevOps Engineer at Favor Delivery (who our students voted 2019 Volunteer of the Year), Owen Samuels, VP of Engineering at H-E-B Digital and Chief Technology Officer of Favor Delivery (who is currently serving as a Vision 2024 Executive Mentor) and Grant Norwood, Senior Software Engineer at H-E-B (who has served as an Instructor and Mentor with Code2College for the past three years).

In addition to sharing their employees’ time and talent through mentorship and instruction, H-E-B has also committed to hosting and leading critical workshop events to further support our students. This past February, H-E-B Digital hosted our third annual Code2College Demo Day, an event where student teams were able to present their technical capstone projects to a panel of judges, including Rani Johnson, Chief Innovation Officer of SolarWinds and H-E-B’s very own Jag Bath. Most recently, H-E-B, hosted its first STEM Case Competition with Code2College where students work alongside engineers and senior technical leadership on an intensive case focused on mobile app design. This interactive and engaging virtual STEM competition is just the latest in a series of ways that H-E-B is engaging with our students and providing them with exceptional opportunities to practice and showcase their learnings

Though our relationship with H-E-B began roughly two years ago, they have already touched every aspect of our organization. Skylar shared, “Growing up I always knew I wanted to work at H-E-B and being an intern there really solidified that because I got real experience with the company. The impact that it had on me was amazing not only because it gave me clarity on my future but also because of all the networking it allowed me to do.” From hosting our high school students as interns, to leading virtual workshops, to having employees teach our after-school coding programs, H-E-B is invested in the success and impact of Code2College.