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Lights out with the National Audubon Society

KPMG provides data-driven insights to the National Audubon Society

Connie Sanchez and Keith Russell of the National Audubon Society discuss the collaboration with the KPMG Data Citizens with Purpose® program that is saving the lives of thousands of birds every year.


Connie Sanchez, Program Manager, Bird-Friendly Buildings, National Audubon Society: It’s estimated that up to a billion birds die from collisions with structures in the U.S. alone each year, and that’s due to both artificial light at night as well as glass.

Keith Russell, Program Manager for Urban Conservation, Audubon Mid-Atlantic: We have found here, doing monitoring of collisions, that these collisions can happen at any level on a building. It can happen at street level, it can happen at the top of a building that’s 60 stories.

Connie: In terms of the Lights Out program, what it does is it recommends that we turn off or dim the lights at night, external as well as internal lights, during peak migration season for these birds. In Philadelphia we’ve got over 100 participants in Lights Out, and that includes commercial buildings as well as residents.

Keith: Every time one building does something to adjust their lighting to help to prevent bird collisions, that makes a big difference, because these collisions are happening one building at a time.

Connie: We’ve got one particular building where we have seen collisions reduced by 70% just due to turning off lights, so it’s really making a difference.

Keith: At one location during a two-week period in late September, within one mile of where we were monitoring, or one kilometer of where we were monitoring, we had over 700,000 birds pass at night just during that one period in that one small area.

We’re getting birds that are coming through from vast portions of Canada that breed across the northern part of the United States and Canada, and that are going to winter throughout the Caribbean, Central America, the southern U.S. and South America, so we’re a funnel.

Connie: We’re working with KPMG’s Data Citizens with Purpose team, and we’re really grateful for what they’ve done there in terms of looking at our collision data. Recent research has looked at the top 125 cities in the United States, looking at what we call exposure risk in terms of artificial light at night as well as bird populations that are migrating through.

And of the top 20 cities that have the highest exposure risk, we’ve already got Lights Out programs in 18 of those 20 cities. So there’s a lot more work to be done, but we’re on our way there.

Working with the KPMG team we’re connecting with building owners, building managers, realty companies in cities.

Keith: The fact that we have had such great participation in our Lights Out program I think is indicative of the type of people that are here in Philadelphia and the type of city that Philadelphia is.

Connie: KPMG approached us with interest in Lights Out as part of their sustainability plan. And so we’ve been working with their Office of Sustainability in reaching out to all of their office locations.


KPMG and 2Gether-International

KPMG drives entrepreneurship with 2Gether-International

Founder and CEO of 2Gether-International, Diego Mariscal, talks about KPMG Studio’s commitment to providing mentorship for entrepreneurs with disabilities around the U.S.


Diego Mariscal, Founder and CEO, 2Gether-International: We started 2Gether really as a meetup, just a gathering of people, just wanting to see how many people were interested in what we had to propose. And within the first month and a half we had more than 50 people sign up on the meetup, and then since then—that was probably four or five years ago—and since then it’s grown to 500 members around the world. Seventy of them have gone through our accelerator program and they have collectively raised more than $40 million from investments, from acquisitions, and from revenue itself.

We talk to a lot of corporations and a lot of companies, and usually it takes a long time to, you know, have an introductory meeting and really, you know, kind of sell them on what we’re doing and for them to see the value. For KPMG it was really, really fast. I think by the second meeting we knew we wanted to work together. It was just figuring out the right way, the right systems, the right mechanism.

I know they’ve been able to mentor specifically about a dozen entrepreneurs from different parts of the country, working in various industries.

And what we’ve been able to do with KPMG is look at how are we making sure that the metaverse is accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities. Oftentimes people say well, you know, it’s a solution to many accessibility problems because you don’t have barriers, right, physical barriers.

You can customize the metaverse to be less sensory stimulating. You know, adapt to many, many disabilities, right- because there’s the option to do it, to customize it. And that may be true; at the same time, when you’re having to put a headset on and you’re having to navigate controllers, that process of participating in the metaverse also presents significant challenges, right, and significant accessibility barriers.

It’s really thinking about how do we make sure that the process holistically is accessible, and that it’s still a very relatively early technology, a relatively early space. And so we have the opportunity to ask the right questions and to be able to really, from a design standpoint, be thinking about accessibility from the beginning.

What we are saying is the real key change happens with the support, obviously, of the non-disabled community- but it really is the confidence and the self-assurance and the resiliency of disabled people, and the creativity of disabled people that is going to change this narrative, that is going to propel the next wave of change.

Melwood, KPMG and Neurodiversity

KPMG and Melwood launch careers of choice for neurodivergent individuals

Brian Callahan, Quality Assurance Tester at KPMG, shares how Melwood helped him find a fulfilling job that allowed him to use his skills and talents in coding.


Scott Gibson, Chief Strategy Officer, Melwood: Melwood’s celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. We were started in 1963 by a group of parents who were told that their children were untrainable and unemployable.

Over the 60 years that have passed, our understanding of neurodevelopmental disabilities has completely expanded, and so the challenge today has been launching careers of choice for people.

Brian Callahan, Quality Assurance Tester, KPMG: My name is Brian Callahan, and I am a Quality Assurance Tester at KPMG.

Melwood provides critical resources to people with disabilities in teaching them both hard and soft skills, as well as providing services for them to find and keep a job.

Scott: In the case of Brian, there was this young talented man who had taught himself seven coding languages. He was clearly quite capable. But he had only found work stocking shelves because that entry level hiring process was built based on social interaction, and that created a struggle for Brian. When we were able to match Brian with KPMG, and they were able to find a way to work around that barrier to entering the workforce, Brian picked up a job that challenged him in a meaningful way.

Brian: Neurodiversity is really anybody whose brain works in a different way than most people. Examples of neurodiversity are attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and autism. It’s not just disadvantages, but also advantages, such as perseverance, attention to detail, and problem-solving.

Scott: I like to think about Brian’s story in terms of a phrase I hear often at KPMG. They say they like to help people get here, stay here, and lead here. Brian was able to get in the door and launch his career. He’s now been here for several years and has proven value on his client teams. But he’s also turned the corner to leading. He serves on the board of directors at Melwood today. He’s also become a self-advocate, providing leadership and advocacy in the neurodiversity space.

Brian: For me Melwood was a complete game-changer. Before that I was stuck in an unfulfilling job. I couldn’t find a job that made use of my skills and abilities. Melwood changed all of that.

Bernie's Book Bank

KPMG helps Bernie’s Book Bank create a data-driven expansion plan

Brian Floriani and Darrin Utynek of Bernie’s Book Bank share how KPMG Ignition and the KPMG Data Citizens with Purpose® program are helping them expand into more communities to increase book ownership for children.


[Offscreen: “How does it feel to get a new book?]

Ariana and Briana, students, George B. Swift School, Chicago: 10 out of 10. 4 million!

Darrin Utynek, CEO, Bernie’s Book Bank: The children in the communities that we serve, the unfortunate stats are there’s usually one book for every 300 children. And so you can imagine how difficult it is for those children to gain access to that book and then really have time with that book.

Brian Floriani, Founder, Bernie’s Book Bank: I thought about my childhood and my children’s homes and their bookshelves and thought well, we need to replicate that for all children if we want to give them a chance to read their way to a better life.

Darrin: And so Bernie’s Book Bank was formed. And really we’ve kept that streamlined mission, and we’re laser focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s increasing book ownership to those communities. We’ve distributed over 24 million books since our founding.

Brian: We wanted to own this problem from the beginning and solve it once and for all.

Darrin: It’s important for us to expand as many titles and offer as many titles as we can to the children that we serve so that we can really see where their interests lie.

After we procure those books or they’re donated to us they come to our processing center.

And what that means is they’re looking at these books to see okay, is this a first, second grade book, is this a third, fourth grade book, is it gently used or has it been really well used, and then we can’t use it anymore.

And then they put those into the bags, and the bags go in totes, and the totes go out to the children and are distributed right away.

Christopher King, Assistant Principal, George B. Swift Specialty School, Chicago: At Swift we have a very high population of low-income families, and the ability just to get books, for most of our families, isn’t as easy as it should be.

They see the green bag come in the building, and as they’re passing by the classroom they know what’s going to happen. And so there’s definitely an excitement in the air.

Jonathan Abad, Special Education Teacher at the George B. Swift Specialty School: I feel like when they have like even their own copies of a book it makes them feel like they’re taking charge of their learning, and they take responsibility, they enjoy it a little bit more.

You can just see the engagement. They love it. Like they love being their owners of their things.

Darrin: Our goal has always been to expand to every major metropolitan city across this country.

Lia Douglas, Managing Director, KPMG US & Board Chair, Bernie’s Book Bank: It was a wonderful opportunity to connect some of our people that work for KPMG Ignition with those who were willing to come into our Ignition Center to work on a national expansion strategy and help to develop that roadmap, and now furthering that with our data citizens program, helping to look at the data, where do future beneficiaries of Bernie’s Book Bank reside, what needs the most help, what’s the pathway to achieve the vision beyond the walls of Chicagoland, so to speak.

Darrin: And their data teams help us mine the information we need to ensure that when we go into different communities or if we’re serving a community currently that we’re finding the exact areas where books are needed most.

Lia: Knowing where your constituents are and how to get there is every bit as vital information as you can get because how are we going to achieve that aspiration? What is the end of that roadmap? How long is that going to take us? How long will these students and children be waiting for us to get there?

The numbers don’t lie. They’re going to lead us exactly to where we want to go, which is more students.

Brian: Book ownership should never be a reason in America why we don’t have reading ready children and reading proficient children. The stakes are too high.

Darrin: When you think about companies like KPMG, and innovation and these terms that they use, that’s where it is right there. When you get to see that book that really sparks that interest in a child.

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Cliff Justice
National Leader of Enterprise Innovation, KPMG US

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