There are many people across the U.S. — the world even — who are committed to improving education. I’m talking about teachers, parents, legislators, community activists and in many instances, students themselves.
I was reading an article earlier this week about an “educational innovator’s” plight to save schools in the Washington, DC area. Something about her story resonated with me. It was her posture that it’s a necessity for the business community to become more active in education. Sure, I get that. Our schools are advancing the work force of the future that companies like mine will reap the benefit. Yet, on any given day, you can read in the newspaper, view an article on the Internet or hear from your colleagues, friends or experience first-hand as a parent of school-aged children, the challenges our educational system faces. Yes, I believe we have a responsibility to education, as it’s important to sustainability. So, what can business do to help improve and close the gap in student achievement?
My company is focused on helping to improve education, globally. We partner with UNICEF on a program to ensure that children in countries across the globe are receiving the quality education they deserve. Yes, I am reminded there are some children around the world who aren’t receiving an education at all — they can’t even go to school nor have a school to attend. Through our national employee volunteer teams in the U.S., we are mobilizing employees to enter schools to help teach financial literacy programs, tutor and mentor students. We’re not only concentrating on secondary education, as our employees also interact with high school students. We even launched an innovative signature program earlier this year called the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge that is designed to not only teach young women about smart money management, but also offers them scholarships for higher education. Of course, we provide financial support to schools and other nonprofit organizations that are specifically charged with improving student achievement. We also sponsor the National Teacher of the Year program.
Closer to home, my older daughter, Erin, recently informed my wife and me that she is voluntarily leaving her job at one of Wall Street’s biggest investment firms to join Teach for America in New York City. Little did I know that giving back to the community also rubbed off at home — go figure.
While I believe my company is doing its part to support education and prepare our children for a better future, I’m interested in learning what other companies are doing. Does your company subscribe to the notion that you have a responsibility to education? If so, how are you going about making a difference? And, if you’re interested in learning more specifics about what my company is doing, I’d love to share our story — how we’ve strategically approached our corporate responsibility.