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Corporate America Engagement in Education

By Gloria Romano-Barrera.

Changes in the global economy and U.S. society have provoked corporate America executives to commit to carrying out educational initiatives through their core business strategy and operations. These companies are improving education at a greater scale and are creating greater value society.

Supporting organizations to expand, Google is committed to build products for everyone. “In order for us to build products that meet the needs of all of our users, including the Latinx community, we need teams that reflect the diversity of our users,” says April Alvarez, Educational Equity Programs Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Google. “We know we cannot get there without hiring and investing in the talent of tomorrow.”

As part of Google’s larger commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in technology, Google is working to strengthen relationships with the Latinx community through educational efforts, but also through work with small and medium businesses, and making products that are more inclusive. According to Alvarez, it is through these relationships that Google will improve representation of Black and Latinx students in the tech industry and Silicon Valley.

Alvarez and her team launched Tech Exchange, an immersive computer science residency program that attracts top software engineering students and takes place on the Google campus. In 2018, more than 17 scholars and one faculty from four Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) and additional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were invited.

“In the spirit of getting proximate to underrepresented communities in tech, we’ve also expanded our GIR program recently to include HSIs,” shares Alvarez. “Over the past five years, we’ve grown this program to 10 schools. And in the fall, we’ll add three additional schools, including two HSIs. To date, we’ve engaged over 1,500 students through the Google in Residence program, and look forward to serving many more.” Alvarez is also proud to expand efforts in Spanish to increase accessibility in the community. Programs include CS First, a free, introductory computer science program for grades 4-8 (ages 9-14) and Be Internet Awesome, a program designed to teach kids how to navigate the internet. This year Google hosted faculty members for an inaugural Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Faculty Summit. The faculty represented 24 HSIs from across the United States, including Puerto Rico, with a focus on computer science (CS) education programs. In addition to this work in the higher education space, Google is also working with Latinx students in the K-12 space.

“Through programs like Code Next, we’re meeting Latinx students in their own neighborhoods to provide more access to technology, makerspaces and to support the cultivation of Black and Latinx tech leaders,” says Alvarez. As a Latina at Google, I think it’s very important that we have a seat at the digital table of innovation. Our stories, experiences, and needs can be overlooked when we don’t participate in the creation of new technology. Latinos have a history of being creators and inventors and we should celebrate that. We need to tell stories of people like Guillermo Camarena and Luis von Ahn, who developed game-changing technology.”

Latinos are a vital part of AT&T’s workforce, customer base and the communities where we work and live,” says Mylayna S. Albright, AVP-citizenship & sustainability. “We serve our stakeholders best when our workforce is diverse, and when a focus on diversity and inclusion is embedded in all our business practices. This includes our support of education. AT&T invests in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our company – and our country – for the future. AT&T must have a diverse talent pipeline to remain competitive.”

Through AT&T’s signature education initiative, AT&T Aspire, AT&T provides access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $450 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world.

“We invest in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our company and our country for the future,” says Dawn Cordero, lead chief of staff. “Through AT&T Aspire, we help provide access to the education and training people need to get and keep good jobs.”

AT&T supports programs that have demonstrated success in increasing high school graduation rates; programs that prepare people for careers in technology, media and telecommunications; and innovative tech solutions to tackle the challenges facing teachers, learners and the education system. These programs include organizations that help underrepresented students develop computer science skills, like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and All Star Code.

Other programs AT&T supports include long-standing investments and collaborations with dropout-prevention organizations like Communities In Schools, City Year and Jobs for America’s Graduates. AT&T also invests in organizations such as Genesys Works, Per Scholas and Year Up to provide underserved young people with career training and work experience at companies – including AT&T. AT&T supports programs at Fordham University, Rutgers University, Avanzando and Proyecto Pastoral that focus on mentoring and education efforts in the Latino community.

AT&T’s Hispanic employee resource group, HACEMOS, has more than 10,800 members dedicated to improving the Latino community, career advancement and empowering future generations of Latinos. In 2017, HACEMOS awarded 54 scholarships, totaling $131,000, to deserving youth nationwide – and since its founding in 1988, more than $3.5 million in scholarships.

Also, for the past 20 years, HACEMOS has hosted its award-winning High Technology Day at AT&T locations across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico. During the event, hundreds of AT&T volunteers lead students through hands-on tech demos and workshops on how to program and design apps and build electronic circuitry.

“For Latinos specifically, successive generations of them have tended to outperform their parents, if those parents are significantly undereducated,” Dawn shares. “But it’s not enough for each generation to advance in small increments, say from a sixth-grade education to an eighth-grade. Educational progress for Latinos has for the most part stalled at the high school level. On the other hand, AT&T must have a diverse talent pipeline to remain competitive. So, education is the most important investment we can make to develop the next generation of creative thinkers.”

“It is important for Con Edison to carry educational efforts toward Latinos and the Hispanic community because we believe in fostering a diverse and inclusive work culture,” says Sidney Alvarez, media relations manager at Con Edison. “The people of Con Edison are our greatest strength. Our 15,000 employees come from different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, and reflect the diversity of the neighborhoods we serve.”

Proud to support educational and nonprofit organizations across New York City and Westchester, Con Edison’s partnerships strengthen the neighborhoods they serve by offering cash grants, employee volunteers, and more. Partnerships in the communities Con Edison serves help to create opportunities and enrich lives. In 2017, Con Edison awarded $12 million to more than 675 nonprofits working in New York City and Westchester. This total includes $3.8M in education grants given to almost 200 local nonprofits.

“Con Edison’s Strategic Partnerships program builds empowered, educated, and inclusive communities through targeted impact initiatives,” says Alvarez as she shares the six specific areas Con Edison focuses on: Arts & Culture, Civics, Community, Education, Environment, and Volunteering.

Investing in educational programs that inspire students in STEM, one of Con Edison’s initiatives, STEM Days Out, is a partnership with area museums, particularly the New York City area and Westchester, to stimulate the interest of middle school students in STEM. Over the first 3 years of STEM Days Out, $725,000 grants were given to 11 partners and reached 17,000 students.

In addition, the Con Edison Scholars Program, which awards endowed scholarships at 15 local colleges and universities, pairs scholarship recipients with employee mentors and provides professional development workshops and networking opportunities throughout the year. Over the past three years, Con Edison gave $1.6M in endowment gifts to 15 local colleges and universities to support students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines.

As part of Con Edison’s technical career pipeline development strategy, the company partners with Energy Tech High School, in Queens, New York. Energy Tech is a 6-year program, preparing students for engineering and technology majors and careers. Con Edison engineers helped build the curriculum, provide teacher externships, student internships, employee mentors and recently funded the Con Edison engineering lab.

Con Edison has also introduced Con Edison Smart Kids Energy Kits to teach students easy ways to use energy more efficiently in their homes. Program content supports New York State Learning Standards so it is easily integrated into existing curriculum.

“Our different perspectives help us see the bigger picture as we power the lives and livelihoods of the 10 million people we serve in New York City and Westchester County,” shares Alvarez. “We are proud of our culture of fairness, respect, and inclusion. Forty-seven percent of our workforce is made up of minorities and we continue to build on this effort.”

Today 17 local New York colleges and universities offer Con Edison Endowed Scholarships. Alvarez encourages participants to check individually with participating schools.

“Our mission at Facebook is to give people the power to build a community and bring the world closer together,” shares Lauryn Ogbechie, Education Partnerships Director, Facebook. “Schools and learning communities are among the most important communities that we all belong to during our lives – and one of the few experiences we all have in common – where everyone can build a community.”

Facebook for Education aims to contribute to building equitable and inclusive learning communities worldwide through programs, tools and products designed to bring the world closer together and ensure all learners can be successful.

“It was essential to us that we get this right from the beginning – that our work should directly support and be developed in partnership with underrepresented communities in order to create equitable learning opportunities and increase access to resources, as well as skill-building opportunities, that are good for impacted communities and good for us all,” shares Ogbechie. “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Our products and programs help educators and learners build communities, expand opportunities, and engage in issues important to them. Together, these efforts support lifelong learning and support fulfilling our company’s mission.”

A few programs and resources Facebook has in place targeting the Latinx/Hispanic community include: TechPrep (https://techprep.org/) and CodeFWD (https://techprep.org/codefwd/), which are computer science education programs designed to inspire the next generation of tech innovators and are available in English and Spanish.

Programs that Inspire: Computer Science Education: TechPrep, CodeFWD, TechStart, Engineer for the Week, InspirED, Our Best Selves, School Kindness Challenge, Soapbox Nation.

Most recent, Facebook launched a new Facebook for Education website that connects educators and learners with products, programs and resources relevant to building inclusive learning communities. A comprehensive list of all of the education resources currently available can be found on the Facebook for Education website.

Diversity and inclusion are key to Intel’s evolution and driving forces for continued innovation and growth. “We believe that diverse and inclusive teams with unique perspectives are more creative and innovative,” says Isaura Gaeta, Intel’s Vice President, Labs and University Research in the Intel Product Assurance and Security Engineering Group (IPAS). “For that reason, we are dedicated to driving an industry transformation and increasing the number of LatinX STEM graduates.”

Intel’s most successful educational initiative with the Hispanic community is the ‘Latinos in Technology Scholarship Initiative’ with the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. In 2015, Intel pledged $3.75 million over five years to support a total of 125 scholarships for Latino college students who have chosen a science, technology, engineering, or math major.

For Intel, investing in education is not only the right thing to do but also a business imperative.

“If we want to shape the future of technology, we must be representative of that future,” states Gaeta. “More diverse and inclusive teams simply produce better results.”

Two years ago, Intel and the Dalberg Institute released a study that found improving ethnic and gender diversity in the U.S. tech workforce represents a massive economic opportunity, one that could create $470 – $570 billion in new value for the tech industry, and could add 1.2–1.6 percent to national GDP.

Ensuring that the next generation of innovators is empowered, diverse, and inclusive, Intel provides a virtual mentoring program to LatinX STEM college students through MentorNet. MentorNet enables STEM students who are women, first generation college students and students of color to create a profile and be connected with an Intel engineer for mentoring, educational and career guidance. Intel also partners with additional scholarship and professional development organizations for which LatinX college students in STEM may be eligible, such as The National GEM Consortium and Great Minds in STEM. It is not uncommon for a student to receive scholarship funding from more than one organization sponsored by Intel.

Through education initiatives, financial assistance, and internship opportunities that offer experience and technical skills, Intel hopes to encourage more women and people of color to enter and succeed in tech careers.

Intel partners with NCWIT and the Televisa Foundation on a collaborative program called TECHNOLOchicas, which was designed to raise awareness among young Latinas and their families about opportunities and careers in technology. In addition to the traditional media campaign aimed to inspire young Latinas, TECHNOLOchicas 3.0 will add a programmatic aspect where AspireIT programs are led by TECHNOLOchicas, providing young girls in Latino communities with in-depth computing experiences.

In addition, INTEL has committed $100,000 per year to Great Minds in STEM. Targeting STEM students of color, Intel has a $5 million partnership with the Oakland Unified School district to strengthen the computer science and engineering pathway curriculum.

“We also have our four-year partnership with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society to invest $1.32 million in programs that increase the number of Native American students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields,” shares Gaeta.

ExxonMobil understands that education is the key to human progress. Today both the ExxonMobil Foundation and Exxon Mobil Corporation have long histories of supporting educational programs for youth, with a particular focus on populations that are underrepresented in engineering, science and related fields. This includes Hispanics, African- Americans and women.

“Educational achievement in these areas will help young people to be prepared to enter the workforce as engineers, scientists, teachers – all professions that are needed in an ever-changing, high-tech society,” says Truman Bell, Manager of Education and Diversity Programs.

One of Exxon Mobile’s largest initiative was launching the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) with a $125 million contribution from ExxonMobil and support from others. NMSI has taken two successful programs to national scale: 1) UTeach, a teacher preparation model developed at the University of Texas for math and science teachers that now exists in 44 U.S. universities. Many of these teachers teach in Title I schools that have a high concentration of Hispanic students; 2) the College Readiness Program incentivizes high school students to take high school Advanced Placement courses in math, science and English; thereby better preparing them to enter universities and major in engineering and science.

“The percentage of Hispanic and African-American students in partner schools who achieve a qualifying score on the national AP exam increases by 70 percent by participating just one year in this program. The College Readiness Program now exists in more than 1,000 public high schools,” says Bell. “By investing in these programs, the nation is able to continue to produce a diverse workforce that helps us all. As a company that employs more than 19,000 engineers and scientists, we want to ensure a high-quality workforce not only now, but for the years ahead.”

ExxonMobil partners with several Hispanic organizations that provide outreach and scholarships to Hispanic Youth. These include the Hispanic Scholarship Program, Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Latinos on the Fast Track (LOFT) program, Latinos in Science and Engineering, LULAC, and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

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