CVS Caremark works to create access for all

Chances are a CVS pharmacy is within walking distance of your house. Or at least within a couple of miles.

One was for me. As a new citizen, a kind CVS manager gave me my first American job, taught me how to differentiate between a nickel and a quarter and the basics of customer service in a country where consumers rule a market spoiled with choice.

So how does a brand with deep community roots across a nation and significant impact support its business mission while keeping its social and environmental missions aligned and relevant? And how do you measure success beyond revenue dollars and flu shots?

For some insight into the company's CSR strategy, as well as their unique perspective on community development, I recently checked in with Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate communications and community relations at CVS Caremark and vice president of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust.

"We have a license to drive social impact in ways that are independent of what's going on in our company," she said, explaining that the foundation is the philanthropic arm of the company and reports to a board of trustees, giving Boone and her team some latitude to define their own priorities.

The fact that Boone heads the foundation as well as the company's communication efforts highlights a close alignment between impact and engagement within the centralized organization.

"I sit across the company and work with our senior leadership on where we are going and how our giving strategy fits with our future plans," she said. "Embedding the foundation's work and mission into the corporate strategy is critical to stay true to our business and values."

As with most foundations, CVS' Charitable Trust focuses primarily on the annual grant cycle.

"Starting in 2012, we decided to focus on four categories: access to healthcare, coordinated care, early intervention and inclusion -- a theme we use as a base criteria for all the grants we make," she said.

Next page: A focus on measurement