ALAMEDA -- You may not know much about its technology, but chances are you've noticed Perforce Software's charitable activities. This past holiday season, the company -- which makes complex development tools for software firms -- helped pay for the Little Ice Rink at South Shore Center for the second year in a row.

Over the past 15 years, the Perforce Foundation has donated close to $3 million to local and global causes, such as some supporting education, disaster relief, the homeless, animal protection, fair trade, health services and the arts. It gives $1,500 to each of its roughly 250 employees worldwide to share with three charities every year, and the foundation supports other causes, as well, through associated giving programs.

"We started in 1998 at $750 per employee and grew up to $1,500 at least six years ago," said Carrie Ewing, vice president of operations at Perforce Software and head of the Perforce Foundation. "Giving back is always on the mind of Christopher Seiwald," a longtime Alameda resident who is the company's president and chief technology officer.

While many companies support the philanthropic activities of their employees, Perforce is unusual in that it gives a specific amount to each staff member "and doesn't require that employees give a matching amount to their preferred charities," Ewing explained.

Employees agreed.


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"It's extremely rewarding that our corporate foundation allows me to make greater contributions to causes I'm passionate about," said Kathy Baldanza, vice president of engineering at Perforce Software, in a statement. "For the last three years, I have backed Girls Inc. of Alameda County, an organization that empowers girls to be strong, smart and bold through academic enrichment activities, skill-building programs and counseling services."

In addition to the tithing program, the staff-led Perforce Giving Committee shares additional funds to local and global causes -- like the Little Ice Rink.

"I thought it could be good for the community since I'd seen ice rinks pop up everywhere," Ewing said. She explored what it would take to bring an ice rink to the Island, and then Perforce decided to help fund and host it as a major sponsor. "Because we can, we did it," she added.

The foundation has also supported Rhythmix Cultural Works (based on Blanding Avenue, like Perforce) and a variety of other causes. "Every cause is employee selected. We have to really believe in it and understand it," shared Ewing.

Perforce management hopes the foundation can keep spending and spreading outs its charitable vision for many years.

"It's the best-appreciated program we give to our employees," Ewing explained. "People really want to give to their schools and communities, so we make that happen."

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