For SVPSA Partner and Board Member Ed Pope, the concept of helping others is woven into everything he does. It’s part of the reason he founded his technology company, DigitalGenetix, which not only helps nonprofits and churches with their digital needs, but also helps support Pope’s charitable giving.
It explains why he and his wife Alice, a senior vice president with Amazon, created a foundation to help nonprofits serve more people in Texas.
It’s also the driving force behind his role as the senior pastor of Victory Center Church, based in Austin. He’s been an ordained pastor since 1997, a role that many people in his network aren’t aware of.
“I believe instead of telling you who I am, I should be who I am,” he said.
As an ordained pastor, Pope works with 30 churches throughout the state. To address the need in other communities, he and his wife founded the Ascend Foundation, which launched in August to help established nonprofits expand into underserved areas in Texas.
“We felt like God had been so good to us, how do we really help?” he said. “Do we build something from scratch? No, we partner with other nonprofits.”
The foundation is working to bring the first branch of Atlanta-based Operation Hope to Texas to promote financial literacy and entrepreneurship in underserved communities. The foundation is also working to connect Feed the Children, a global organization, with Texas nonprofits.
“A lot of times, nonprofits attempt to reinvent the wheel instead of partnering with existing infrastructure and making some minor modifications to serve that native area,” Pope said. “My role with SVPSA really helped me see what the needs were, how to properly build organizations, and so that’s why the Ascend Foundation partners with other nonprofits that bring opportunities to the communities we serve.”
He became involved with SVPSA in 2019 through the branch’s co-founder, Harriet Marmon Helmle. Pope first met Helmle when he was a 14-year-old attending Sam Houston High School. As an outstanding student there, Pope became a leader in San Antonio Youth Literacy, the non-profit Helmle founded and established in local schools.
The experience of having Helmle as a mentor was transformative, Pope said. Through her, he met local luminaries including Red McCombs and Henry Cisneros, exposing him to a world beyond the one he knew.
“She introduced us to so many different people, and by exposing us to a different environment, we knew what was possible, and that’s big in underprivileged areas,” he said. “She introduced her network to us freely and that helped to shape who I am today.”
He became captivated with the SVP model.
“The reason I became so immersed in it is that I saw the need. You have so many nonprofits that have great ideas but they’re not propertly structured, don’t have the necessary resources to organize properly and move forward in their mission,” he said. “I thought this was a really ingenious way to help communities.”
After a corporate career with companies including UPS and OfficeMax, Pope established a technology company, DigitalGenetix, in 2015. The company started out by serving the technology needs of churches and nonprofits and has since expanded to include corporate and residential clients and government contracts. The business allowed him more flexibility to care for the couple’s family, including their two youngest children still living at home.
SVP has not only taught him more about the nonprofit world, Pope said, but he’s able to apply what he learns in the many communities and causes that he works on throughout Texas.
“SVPSA has helped me so much because a lot of that knowledge that SVPSA has introduced me to as a board member is a tremendous help in other communities,” he said. “What we’re doing in SVPSA is portable and I think it benefits so many people in so many different facets of life.”