Madison,
03
October
2018
|
05:00 PM
America/Chicago

Spark building opens today serving as a catalyst for innovation

The space is also home to American Family’s new social impact hub

American Family Insurance officially opened the doors to Spark - a building dedicated to innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship in Madison.

The state-of-the art building represents American Family’s investment in the city of Madison and will serve as home for the company’s digital transformation, venture capital and community investment efforts.

Jack Salzwedel

Spark will also be the headquarters of a new part of the company which will use entrepreneurial thinking, processes and partnerships to address social issues.

“We’re launching The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact to strengthen our company while tackling some profound social issues facing our communities, schools and governments,” said Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chair and CEO.

“In so many ways, our brand, our mission and our work directly intersect with building stronger communities. The Institute is one more way to grow our company and make a positive community impact,” said Salzwedel.

The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (the Institute) builds on the company’s commitment to engage with communities to solve some of society’s challenges through public and private partnerships.

In essence the Institute will help the formation and growth of social and classic entrepreneurs who create living-wage jobs and positively contribute to society. It will focus on entrepreneurs of color and female business owners. In addition the Institute will support entrepreneurship by youth and young adults to spur positive impact in communities and create a sustainable business.

The initial three focus areas of the Institute are: K-12 education – specifically social and environmental challenges particularly among racial groups within our schools, resilient communities – how individuals, communities, businesses and systems within a city survive, adapt and grow no matter the chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience, and economic opportunity for all – serving adults and youth who may be at an increased risk of incarceration or recidivism.

“We need to be a strong, profitable and growing company with the highest levels of customer satisfaction, but those alone are not enough. We also need to be an organization that is a catalyst for change in our communities,” said Salzwedel.

“We’re committed to tackling issues facing K-12 education, helping build sustainable and resilient communities, and supporting economic opportunity for all.”

The Institute will positively contribute to society and to the financial results of American Family. The company expects the Institute will also strengthen its position in the community as a leader in corporate responsibility.

“The Institute will bring together social impact entrepreneurs to coach them in innovation and put their ideas into action to help improve our communities,” said Peter Gunder, chief business development officer and head of the Institute.

Spark is already home to DreamBank and StartingBlock Madison (SBM). SBM is an entrepreneurial center for start-up companies and established entrepreneurs to share knowledge, skills and professional assistance.

DreamBank and Starting Block Madison have been operating in Spark since the beginning of summer. Some American Family employees will relocate to Spark over the next couple of months, with full occupancy by the end of the year.

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We’re launching The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact to strengthen our company while tackling some profound social issues facing our communities, schools and governments.
Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chair and CEO

About American Family Insurance

Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 311 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Web www.amfam.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter www.twitter.com/amfam.