Just as we are passionate about our work at Baird, we care deeply about giving back to our communities. This is not only the right thing to do, it is integral to Baird's culture. We encourage all associates to seek balance in their work, life and community involvement.
Many of our associates have leadership roles in civic and charitable causes, bringing experience and energy to help these organizations reach their goals. Others volunteer through initiatives such as the Baird Cares program, which provides paid time off for volunteer activities. Baird Gives Back Week creates collaborative volunteer opportunities that benefit local communities; participation has grown dramatically since the program began four years ago. In 2012, more than 1,300 associates and family members lent a hand during a week of activities that included helping the homeless, supporting environmental programs and giving assistance to neighbors in need, from children to the elderly.
Many associates donate generously to deserving organizations in their communities, and we encourage and support these charitable efforts with thousands of matching gifts each year. In addition, numerous Baird Foundation grants are given to support organizations where Baird associates are actively involved as volunteers or board members. The Foundation also makes direct contributions across the country in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts and diversity. Over the past five years, annual Foundation grants have grown by 32%, exceeding $2.7 million in 2012.
During the 2012 Baird Gives Back Week, associates and family members donated 3,700 hours to approximately 100 nonprofits in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Over 95% associate participation helped our Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland offices set new records for United Way contributions. A number of other offices also had successful campaigns.
Baird Foundation grants topped $2.7 million during 2012 in support of education, health and human services, the arts and diversity.
Hundreds of associates develop leadership skills through our five resource groups, which are focused on community involvement, women's issues, diversity, the LGBT community and the environment.