MailChimp Community College is a leadership program designed to equip MailChimp employees to think deeply and broadly about fostering equity in our hometown of Atlanta. We designed the program in partnership with Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to help educate our colleagues and inspire positive change.

The inaugural cohort—which convened in early 2017—comprised 12 MailChimp employees from around the company. Dozens of civic leaders, nonprofit executives, and community organizers joined us for deep conversations about the work they do and the challenges they face. We visited local nonprofits to see their work first-hand. And we awarded a total of $200,000 in grants to organizations making the biggest impact.

Building equity in Atlanta

Atlanta is one of the least equitable cities in the United States. Every day, powerful systemic forces make it harder and harder for many of our neighbors to succeed or even keep up. As a business, MailChimp’s purpose is to give underdogs the tools to succeed. As a neighbor, that’s our instinct, too.

MailChimp already has a strong corporate citizenship program. We wanted to build on it by developing individual leaders within our company and empowering them to act as leaders in our community. So we partnered with Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to take our intentional first step, and MailChimp Community College was born.

Our MailChimp cohort

Dozens of employees applied to be part of MailChimp Community College’s first cohort. We selected 12 who represented different teams, leadership levels, and diverse personal backgrounds.

Christian Barnard

Front-End Developer

Alianor Chapman

Director of Testing

Mel Houston

Customer Support Technician, Overnight

Katie Luther

Community Involvement Coordinator

Chris Marley

Business Development Advisor

Amar Medic

Marketing Associate

Floyd Muir

Customer Support Educator

Samantha NeSmith

Project Manager, Operations

Sarah Saadatjoo

Assistant Director of Tech Support

Neel Shivdasani

Data Scientist

Mark Surber

Legal Compliance Manager

Shalini Vora

Executive Assistant

The cohort gathered 8 times to meet with community leaders deeply involved in Atlanta’s history and challenges. Our faculty included founders and executive directors of nonprofits large and small, artists and organizers, philanthropists and policy specialists. An independent curator and facilitator, selected by Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, led each session with the help of staff from each of our partner organizations.

Education in action

We wanted to give MailChimp Community College participants a broad survey of their community, the challenges it faces, and the work being done within it. Four core themes ran through these sessions: Atlanta’s equity gap, philanthropy, corporate citizenship, and inspiring positive change.

The cohort was given the opportunity to put their new knowledge to work through a capstone grantmaking project. We solicited, reviewed, and debated grant proposals and ultimately awarded $200,000 to effective, excellent organizations addressing equity in Atlanta.

MailChimp Community College grants

We invited 13 of the local organizations we worked with to apply for the inaugural MailChimp Community College Grants. Each organization earned $2,500 for completing the application. Additionally, each MailChimp Community College participant was able to direct $2,500 to the applicant of their choice. As a cohort, we proudly awarded grants to 3 organizations.

Raising Expectations


In support of Project DREAM, an intensive after school program in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood that provides 2nd-8th grade students with mentorship, tutoring, family support, field trips, and enrichment activities.

Georgia Justice Project


In support of their advocacy for Georgia businesses growing their capacity to hire justice-involved persons.

Partnership for Southern Equity


In support of the organization’s mission, vision, and staff development.