DETROITJuly 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Mars Agency has taken its community involvement and local improvement efforts to a new level by teaming up with the African American 490 Challenge (AA490 Challenge) to bring justice for sexual assault victims in the Detroit area.

In 2009, more than 11,000 unopened and untested rape kits were discovered in a Detroit Police Department storage unit, some dating back more than 30 years. Enough SAID, an independent collaboration of the Michigan Women’s Foundation, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Crime Commission, raised private-sector funds to cover the costs to test the unopened kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and secure justice for victims; 690 kits are still to be tested.

Ken Barnett, Mars’ Global CEO, challenged the agency to support this cause and fund the processing of 10 kits. VP of People & Culture Lisa Bradley-Mitchell worked with the President of AA490 to organize donations and create a dedicated area of their Crowdrise website for Mars’ employees to contribute. The Mars Agency held a “Denim Day” to key off a similar citywide Denim Day that was promoted and hosted by AA490 several days earlier. Employee donations together with agency funds enabled the processing of 10 rape kits, at a cost of $490 per rape kit. The $490 processing cost is reflected in the AA490 moniker.

“These crimes are a true travesty of justice, which has caused such enormous pain for thousands of victims and their families for so long,” says Ken Barnett, Global CEO of The Mars Agency. “When we learned of this opportunity to help out, it was a natural for The Mars Agency to get involved and help others in need. True to form, our people stepped up to ensure justice was served and help make our community safer for all residents.”

The Mars Agency launched a Corporate Social Responsibility program in 2013, in conjunction with its 40th anniversary, which includes community involvement as one of its four pillars. The operating premise of this employee-led effort is, “Creating Impact – One Life at a Time,” also known as its “Start Small” campaign.

Various initiatives include an annual global citizenship day to volunteer in the community; employee sabbaticals; quarterly food and educational drives; pro bono work for non-profit organizations; and individual employee volunteer days. This year’s goals for the Start Small program are to impact 1,000 children and donate 2,500 hours of employee time.

The Mars Agency is a full-service, global shopper and consumer marketing leader, operating in 11 offices in North America and Europe. For nearly 45 years, the agency has been consistently recognized as a thought leader in the shopper space, attracting an impressive client base that includes Walmart, Hallmark, T-Mobile, Campbell’s, Pepperidge Farm, Lowe’s, Samsung, Pfizer, and Live Nation.

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