Meaningful. Challenging. Innovative. To anyone who works at MEDA, it’s no surprise that these were the three top adjectives chosen by staff in a survey about their work at the organization. After all, when you are daily building equity through Latino wealth, place and power, you definitely have an impactful career rather than just a menial job.
Scaling the work, scaling the staff
MEDA has been around for 46 years, and as the nonprofit’s work has scaled, so has its staff, which is now at 80 strong. This has translated to an all-the-more urgent need to attract the best talent out there. That starts with a fiscally sound organization at the vanguard of community-development work.
Departments at MEDA are varied, running the gamut from asset-building programs and the Mission Promise Neighborhood anti-poverty education initiative to community real estate and the Fondo Adelante CDFI loan fund disbursing non-displacement capital. Support teams — human resources, fundraising, communications, evaluation and finance — are in place to ensure that all programs operate smoothly. There is now even a fleshed out policy team looking out for the community’s interests while turning clients into constituents.
To attract and retain talent, MEDA over the years has augmented benefits for staff. These core benefits now include, but are not limited to:
- Comprehensive medical, vision and dental insurance for employees and their dependents — 100 percent covered by MEDA.
- A Flexible Savings Account (FSA) so staff can have pre=tax dollars available to help offset medical costs incurred annually.
- A 401(k) plan, with a match by MEDA and 100 percent vesting after just four years of employment.
- Generous paid time off — minimum of 20 days for new hires, increasing to 26 days at year three and 32 at year six..
- Twelve paid annual holidays (including César Chávez Day!)
- An Employee Assistance Program that offers limited free financial, legal or psychological counseling to employees and/or their families.
- Opportunities for professional growth, from trainings to conferences and more.
- Paid volunteer time so staff can provide service where they deem it most needed.
Working hard, playing hard
MEDA staff are often heard saying that they feel like a family — familia. That’s due to more than just spending five days a week together at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante; rather, that feeling is fostered by communal activities sponsored by the organization.
To start, every other Tuesday there is an all-staff meeting. Departments and support teams take turns hosting, charged with bringing in breakfast and coming up with creative icebreakers meant to get to know each other better. Also at these meetings, staff talk of upcoming events to spur attendance, applaud each others’ outcomes met and listen to facilitators speak on topics such as work-life balance.
The last Tuesday of each month means Happy Hour, held on-site. This offers the opportunity for staff to mingle with others not on their teams, with everyone partaking in the complimentary Mexican food from neighboring small businesses. Who doesn’t like “Taco Tuesdays”?
Each spring, MEDA offers a “Staff Fun Day” as a way to offer relaxation and team-building. Sometimes these full-day events have been held in Golden Gate Park, with boat riding on Stowe Lake and a surprisingly competitive whiffle ball game in the mix. In 2019, staff used an app to take part in a challenging scavenger hunt along the Embarcadero waterfront. The afternoon included time to go off on your own or in groups, with staff looking for a more cerebral outing heading to the Exploratorium science museum, while others did an urban hike up the famed Filbert Steps to Coit Tower for the unsurpassed vistas.
Added to the aforementioned activities are off-site retreats — often with external facilitators — on a range of topics. The subject matter for the day is usually chosen via staff surveys. Everyone definitely walks away better informed and feeling like part of a team.
Such inclusivity is the main ingredient for a healthy organization. That’s MEDA’s recipe for success.