Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back To School For Corporate Giving

Parents and kids are gearing up to go back to school and so too businesses are gearing up their giving programs. Through funding, donations, and volunteering businesses are creating initiatives to address the critical needs of students and education.

Last week I participated at a education roundtable forum sponsored by the Entrepreneurs Foundation and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation for corporate community practitioners and education non profits to share examples of effective models of corporate involvement in education.

Manny Barbara, Vice President, Advocacy and Thought Leadership, of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation opened the forum with some stark statistics about some of the broad issues that the US faces in education and some specific challenges our communities face here in Silicon Valley.

President Obama in a speech at The University of Texas in Austin Texas last Monday August 9th, also outlined the challenges that education in this country faces and our educational goals that we must reach in order to strengthen our economy and be able to compete in a global economy. The statistics point to the United States falling behind other countries in math and science and also falling behind in college graduation rates for young adults.

"It's an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who've never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college. Education is an economic issue when nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade. Education is an economic issue when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that countries that out-educate us today, they will out-compete us tomorrow."

President Obama laid out the critical areas that need to be addressed in improving our college graduation rate: academic competencies, affordability, focused career programs, dropout rates  But also he emphasized the  need to create better schools across America at the pre-school, elementary and secondary levels in order for students to be prepared for college.

Businesses understand the critical need to educate a workforce that can help companies compete in a global economy. It is in their best interest to step up to the plate and to help close the achievement gap in many communities, to educate future leadership, and create this workforce that is better prepared for a global society. For global companies, they also understand and participate in supporting education in many of the countries and communities where they have a presence.

As corporate philanthropy becomes more aligned with each company's core business, many companies are investing in education as a focus area and creating innovative solutions to many of these problems.Safeway Corp. is an example of a company that understands this, as Mike Minasi, President of Marketing for Safeway said in a press release: "It makes sense for businesses to make a financial commitment to education, because today's students are tomorrow's workforce. We see this as an investment in the future of our communities."

In the next few posts I will be sharing the stories of some of these large and small companies, like Safeway and others, that are creating an impact by partnering with schools and communities to raise the level of education creating stronger communities and a better world for everyone.

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