The forthcoming 2015 Community Involvement Survey illustrates that many companies are addressing relevant social issues, with a prominent focus on K-12 education. The survey shows that nearly 55 percent of companies include education among their top issues for attention and investment. With nearly 20 percent of students failing to graduate on time, or at all, corporations are making investments to try and increase student achievement and graduation rates for a more educated workforce.[i]
Here at the Center, we spend a lot of time thinking about how our members can make the good work they do in CSR go even further. We scan research publications in the management and social sciences disciplines related to corporate citizenship, work with some of the top thinkers in the field, and conduct our own research to provide our more than 400 members with the insights that help drive business and social value.
As a global education company and one of the world’s leading providers of pre-K-12 education content and services, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) has an extended tradition of fostering education through partnerships with local organizations. At the heart of each initiative is the company’s mission – to change people’s lives by fostering passionate, curious learners.
In America, heart disease  is the #1 killer, taking more lives each year than all cancers combined. And although diseaseprevalence is similar across genders and ethnicities, awareness of risk factors and disparity in treatment rates are not. Close the Gap, a Boston Scientific educational initiative, was established in 2006 to address disparities in cardiovascular care for the underserved patient populations of women, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans. Initially focused solely on cardiovascular health, Close the Gap recently expanded its mission to address healthcare disparities that exist in other disease states, including asthma, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.[2-5]
Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is extremely important in building a skilled talent pool for the manufacturing sector. We spoke with three representatives in our July webinar, Manufacturing Companies and an Educated Workforce, about their efforts to build effective STEM education programs.
Scott Hudson, principal manager, social responsibility and community outreach at the Alcoa Foundation, Jennifer Mandel, communications and public affairs manager at Lockheed Martin, , and Michele Walker-Moak, program manager, global community affairs atApplied Materials believe that encouraging interest in STEM fields is crucial for the future of manufacturing companies. They noted that a shortage of STEM-trained talent currently exists, and thus they focus their programs on engaging untapped demographic groups to help fill this void.
Three key themes emerged from our discussion of STEM education initiatives, and our participants shared their experiences with each:
Aligning Programs with Strategic Issues
One of the main themes that arose from our exchange is the significance of aligning educational programs with a company’s overall strategy. Taking this step increases the program’s effectiveness for it allows executives, employees, and other stakeholders to more easily see the value of the investment.
According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of Americans said that their parents or school system had encouraged them to pursue a career in manufacturing. In response, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, a manufacturing company pioneering the revitalization of the industry, teamed up with their new partner, Discovery Education, in an effort to bridge the industry’s unemployment gap through an online program named "Manufacture Your Future," which debuted in late May.
Manufacturing companies rely on the knowledge and capabilities of skilled workers to keep their businesses going. As a result, manufacturers should be, and often are, proponents of programs that encourage education in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.
With employees in 30 countries across the world, Alcoa is truly a global company. Given the extent of its reach, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, designs its community giving platform with this global audience in mind, developing scalable programs in partnership with select nonprofit organizations. In September 2013, Alcoa Foundation announced a global initiative for unemployed youth in ten Alcoa communities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Jamaica, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. Through the Internships for Unemployed Youth Program, participating youth will receive the education and training necessary to pursue a career in manufacturing. Suzanne van de Raadt, Global Communications Manager, Alcoa Foundation, provided some insight into the history of the program and the tools Alcoa has used to manage its execution across geographies.
In our most recent webinar, Supporting education: Meeting the needs of community and company, we learned from three professionals who have developed unique education programs that strategically align with their core business as well as their communities’ needs. Hilary Ayala, Director of Consolidated Edison’s Grassroots Management and Strategic Partnerships Programs, Janet Nicholas, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Dassault Systemes, and Dave Enzerra, Senior Director of Community & Public Affairs at Lubrizol Corporation, demonstrated how they successfully implemented and now maintain their education initiatives while facing budget constraints and global challenges. In this webinar we got an in-depth look into three programs that differ in scope, targeted participants, goals, and outcomes.
Hilary Ayala from Con Edison utilizes a grassroots approach, listening and optimizing employee passion for a program that addresses a key issue for both the betterment of local students, and for the company’s future in recruiting students that have excelled in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Con Edison became involved in the FIRST Robotics competition in 1999 because it provides an opportunity for employees to connect with students on a one-on-one basis and to use skills that they use throughout their work at Con Edison, creating a win-win situation for both students and employees.