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Nov 29th 2012

AOLers Join Forces for Cycle for Survival 2013


AOLers Cycle for Survival

AOL takes great pride in being a company who's in the business of helping people and AOLer Janet Balis saw this first-hand when AOL stood behind her and Cycle for Survival, raising money for cancer research. Janet's close friend Jennifer Goodman Linn founded the charity in 2007 and in the years that followed, grew the effort to become one of the fastest growing non-profits in the country, raising over $18 million. As she writes on HuffPost Impact:
I wanted to introduce this important cause to my new home at AOL. The response was overwhelming and very touching, particularly in the year which would be our first time ever cycling without Jen, who lost her battle with a rare cancer called Sarcoma in July 2011. In that emotional moment, I suddenly felt like I was very much part of a team. The corporate cause team sprung into action to spread the word. An AOL sales executive decided that he not only wanted to start a team in Detroit, but that he would do it as a satellite experience since there was not even an Equinox location there for the spinning class. Across the company, I marveled as people sprung into action -- this truly was a place that did what it said.
AOL's Janet Balis with Cycle for Survival Founders Dave and Jennifer Linn

Team "AOL+HuffPost: Cycle for Impact" has a goal to double their impact from last year and raise $100,000. To help the team reach its goal, click here.

Cycle for Survival's Founder Jennifer Linn

Oct 10th 2012

New York AOLers Light the Night

A team of 17 AOLers took part in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night walk in New York last week, raising nearly $5,000 to fund research and support for people battling cancer.

During this event, which takes place each fall in more than 200 communities across North America, friends, families and co-workers form fundraising teams to participate in inspirational evening walks. Participants carry illuminated balloons - white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancer - to symbolize caring communities bringing light to the dark world of cancer. The team's three-mile walk took place along the East River.

An important part of AOL is about giving back to the community. Find out more about our social responsibility program by following this link.

If you would like to contribute to AOL's New York team effort you may do so on its team page.

May 2nd 2012

AOLer Keegan Forte Talks Volunteerism and Venture Capital

Growing up in a family full of volunteers, AOLer Keegan Vance Forte has always been actively dedicated to helping others. From a young age, Keegan would ride her bicycle around her neighborhood delivering goods like books and food to members of the Manhasset Women's Coalition Against Breast Cancer (MWCABC), a local charity founded by Keegan's mother, dedicated to funding innovative research, increasing awareness, and providing support services to those with breast cancer and related diseases.

In her day job, Keegan helps to build new businesses as Chief of Staff of AOL Ventures, AOL's venture capital arm. When discussing what makes AOL Ventures unique, Keegan explains that her team is really dedicated to solving for the structural and organizational challenges that most other corporate VC funds face. "We try and maintain a lightweight structure and organization and tend to make investment decisions quickly – two things that usually don't exist within corporate funds to date," Keegan said. "In addition we really work hard to make sure we only invest in things where we know both AOL and AOL Ventures gets some measurable value out of. Basically it should be a two way street with an entrepreneur - we are attracted to them because of the idea, the opportunity and the fact that we can 'rent' their services without having to buy it. In turn they get access to AOL as a customer and all the knowledge that we have internally to help them build a big business."

We asked Keegan a question she hears a lot, "What does AOL Ventures look for when investing?". She answered, "There's a set of certain criteria that need to be answered like: is there an attractive customer target? Is the company solving a pain point or problem in a unique way? Is there a large and growing market opportunity? Is there a clear path to exit with several natural acquirers?" As a thematic fund, AOL Ventures answers these questions before investing and also mainly focuses on seed and series A investments across 5 key buckets: SaaS (Software as a Service), Local, Content, Mobile and Ad Tech.

When asked about her favorite AOL products, Keegan answered, "Huntsy, which was created by QLabs. It's a tool for frustrated job hunters to help keep them organized and on track during their job hunt. So many people track jobs using excel files or binders which can be overwhelming, but Huntsy is a super simple solution that acts as a bookmarklet on top of your browser. It pulls all of your job information straight into your Huntsy profile to make finding your dream job an easy process." Keegan to no surprise, also admires the work that the AOL cause marketing team does, including the launch of AOL Impact, which connects people with charities, making it easy to get involved, and share the missions of organizations doing amazing things.

When the long work day is over, Keegan continues to work with her mother's charity today, but also spreads her efforts supporting causes like
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Musicians On Call, as well as Bike to the Beach, a century ride benefiting Autism Speaks. Starting in the heart of New York City and ending in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, Bike to the Beach raises funds and awareness for autism while creating a clear message to the public about how many people are affected by the disorder – one diagnosed every 20 minutes. This year's ride, which will take place on Friday, June 8th, marks the third anniversary of the ride, and as one of the directors of the NY chapter, Keegan has been focusing on recruiting cyclists and organizing events in preparation for the ride.

"Bike to the Beach is unique because we're giving people a cause to support, but also offering them a challenge that they can accomplish. We get a few different type of people who participate like those supporters dedicated to fighting autism who think we are crazy for trying to get them on a bike, but do it because it's for a cause they are passionate about. Then we get avid cyclists that want to participate because they want to get another bike ride under their belt, but they end up doing the ride, learning about autism and joining our larger community of supporters."

Interested in Bike to the Beach? The organization is still looking for cyclists and volunteers to get involved. For more information click here or reach out directly to Keegan.

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