The Business Case for Supporting the Personal and Professional Development of Today’s Youth and Tomorrow’s Employees
By Alexa Miller, Coordinator, Issue Networks, Corporate Citizenship Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
In an increasingly global economy, we must learn constantly through observation, experience, inquiry, and interpretation. This pursuit not only drives innovation and efficiency in institutions and economies, it develops the minds of individuals—young and old—who can challenge us to open our minds to new possibilities, markets, relationships, and experiences. To that extent, a commitment to continued learning is a responsibility, an integral strategy to safeguard business continuity as it relates to long-term competitiveness, tolerance, and social progress.
American companies, state and federal governments, and nonprofit organizations provide billions of dollars for K-12 educational programs each year. In spite of those resources; poverty, violence, and a lack of access to formal career pathways hinders an increasing number of American students’ personal and educational development. As the achievement and skills gap compounds and widens, it ultimately lowers productivity, hinders innovation, and stifles economic growth.
The achievement and skills gap not only hinders employment opportunities, it also disenfranchises students. As reported by EY, 5.6 million of today’s American youth, ages 16-24, feel disconnected from education and work. As employers, community members, and peers, we must understand the immediate and long-term effects of the achievement gap—and how the private sector can help reverse this trend.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, we believe that business is part of the solution to closing the skills and achievement gaps and filling the jobs that will drive economic growth. Our goal is to showcase how businesses are taking a leadership role in advancing student successes throughout various stages of individuals’ personal and educational development. Examples in this report include:
- Pearson: Creating innovative solutions to help improve the delivery of education for Syrian refugees and youth living in emergency and conflict-affected areas.
- PBS: Inspiring children ages 5-8 to become makers instead of consumers of media through the development of a mobile application that teaches them to create stories, games, and animations with code.
- The Dow Chemical Company: Generating awareness around interest in exploring career opportunities in manufacturing and other STEM career options through employee engagement and providing hands-on experiences in the field.
- Hilton: Developing the future talent pipeline by preparing young people with the life-skills and technical expertise needed for meaningful careers in the hospitality industry.
- Discovery Education: Tackling the nationwide opioid epidemic through educating students, teachers, and parents about the science behind addiction, the dangers of drug abuse, making informed choices when prescribed or presented with an opportunity to experiment with opioids.
Many more companies have also evolved their corporate citizenship investments to include greater access to innovative technologies, holistic implementation strategies, and life-long skills to deliver more meaningful outcomes for their community and stakeholders.
We hope this report provides fresh ideas for how your company can use its financial and human resources to empower and inspire individuals—from students to career professionals—to reach their full potential. Access to education is imperative to the strength of our communities and economy—and the business community has an opportunity to make a profound difference.
- Creating the Foundation for Building Tomorrow’s Leaders: KPMG’s Family for Literacy
- Fisher-Price Toys “Play” a Role in Learning
- Enhancing Children’s Early Education Through Vocabulary Development
- A Leadership Journey With Community Impact
- RightStep Virtual Mentoring Program: Engaging Deloitte Professionals and Making an Impact
- Aligning Workforce Needs With Employee Engagement
- Private-Sector Mentoring Drives Inclusiveness in Turbulent Times
- Expanding Students’ Career Opportunities Through Access to Mobile Technology
- Empowering Students to Solve for Tomorrow
- Impacting Educational Outcomes for Hispanic Students: One Flight at a Time
- Powerful Partnership: How Technology Is Expanding Access to Quality Biology Education
- Igniting the Next Generation of Coders
- Scaling STEM
- Helping Kids Imagine Science
- The PBS KIDS Coding-to-Learn Initiative: Preparing Today’s Children for the STEM World of Tomorrow
- For the Future of Tech, Higher Education Must Bridge the Gap Between STEM Skills and Soft Skills
- Discovery Education and the Drug Enforcement Administration Partner to Combat the Opioid Epidemic and Teach Teens the Science of Addiction
- Bringing Financial Literacy and Rap Together to Reach Students
- Building Design to Advance Health and Well-being
- Johnson Controls Teaches Urban Youth Across Latin America Social and Technical Skills
- Syrian Refugee Children
- Advancing the Next Generation
- How Hilton Plans to Open Doors for 1 Million Youths
- Bridging High School, College, and the World of Work: The P-TECH 9-14 School Model
- Reimagining Career-Focused Education
- Celebrating 10 Years of Providing Opportunity: Travelers EDGE®
Chapter One: Early Childhood Education
KPMG is committed to developing the leaders of the future through investments in programs that promote lifelong learning -- both for students and those advanced in their careers. The most critical building block for continuous learning is literacy, a skill acquired during the earliest years of a child’s education.
But for children in low-income communities, the major barrier to literacy is access to books. In fact, two-thirds of children from low-income families lack access to books. Studies confirm that the number of books in the home directly predict reading achievement. Children who grow up with books in their homes reach a higher level of education than those who do not.
Working in cooperation with First Book, our organization has sought to address this issue by getting new books into the hands of children who need them most through KPMG’s Family for Literacy (KFFL) program. KPMG people, spouses, family members, and alumni, relish the opportunity to volunteer their time to read to children, raise funds, and distribute new books to children.
We’ve integrated KFFL across many areas of our business to bolster the success of our efforts.
- Marketing - We developed “Blue for Books,” tying KFFL to KPMG’s sponsorship of Stacy Lewis, Phil Mickelson, and Mariah Stackhouse. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from sales of their blue KPMG golf hats fund children’s books (each hat = 3 books). Our “Inspiring Win” program also donates 5,000 books and refurbishes a school library in a low-income community whenever these golfers win a tournament.
- Client engagement – Clients and prospective clients whose philanthropy is also focused on education participate in KFFL book distributions alongside of us.
- Recruiting – Every KPMG intern participates in the planning and execution of a KFFL project, and some continue to participate by starting KFFL chapters on their campuses or through our relationships with organizations like Beta Alpha Psi.
- Inclusion and diversity – Our Diversity Networks identify specific books, develop lesson plans, and deliver books to students at Title I schools. Recognizing the lack of diversity in children’s literature, KPMG sponsored the publication of a children’s book about a disabled man in Ghana for First Book’s “Stories for All” project.
- Employee engagement – KFFL is unique in that it invites employees’ family members to volunteer with them. This has increased employee pride and retention.
But we recognize there’s much more to do, so we look for new ways to advance our efforts. We recently announced a sponsorship of the WE organization, which will galvanize youth to get involved with combatting childhood illiteracy in their communities. We look forward to continuing to make an impact in this critical area and helping develop the leaders of the future.
Play is an essential part of childhood, and as a learning tool it helps children make meaningful connections in the brain that build pathways to lifelong learning. At Mattel, we believe every child deserves the opportunity to play, no matter who he or she is or where he or she grows up. So, we sought an innovative way to create an atmosphere of play that fosters a child’s development—even in places where poverty makes it tough to be a child. Mattel’s long-standing relationship with Save the Children gave us the opportunity to do just that.
In the United States and around the world, Save the Children gives girls and boys a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. Since beginning our partnership in 2005, Save the Children and Mattel have always had a natural fit, focusing on the well-being of children.
As a business with purpose, Mattel recognizes the importance of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for the role corporations can play in addressing societal challenges. And we saw a place for ourselves in the UN’s goal to increase access to early childhood development (ECD) to prepare preschool-aged children for school. Through our partnership with Save the Children, we learned that in the poorest countries, only one in five children attend preschool. To address this need, our teams decided to leverage our collective resources to develop high-quality ECD programs based around play.
Building on our shared experience of driving child development through the integration of play and learning, we forged a new partnership that combines Mattel’s expertise in design and product development with Save the Children’s strength in developing quality education programs. The result is our current initiative to co-create ECD Play Kits for preschool programming in the poverty-stricken slums of Northern Jakarta, Indonesia, where the need is great.
The Play Kits are geared to improve the quality of materials available to create learning solutions that produce stronger outcomes for children. They will include some of the toys and games you would see in a typical preschool classroom, as well as a cache of new toys, co-developed and co-designed by Save the Children technical experts and Fisher-Price toy designers and engineers.
Studies show that adults’ interaction in children’s play has a major role in children’s learning and development. At home and in the classroom—the two places most influential to a child—if parents and teachers are responsive, guiding, and nurturing, then children’s learning is greatly enhanced. Therefore, we are developing two Play Kits to create engagement between children and adults:
- At home: Designed especially for low-resource families with little formal education, the kit will show parents—most of whom work long hours—ways to engage in a joyful yet purposeful manner with their children in the limited time they have.
- In classrooms: Designed to complement existing curricula, the kit will help teachers use play-based teaching techniques, and engage the community in child learning.
The Play Kits will include some existing Mattel products as well as other basic household items to show adults that children can learn by playing, especially when provided a framework for purposeful play. To make it easy for parents, we will include visual play guides and easy-to-understand instructions on how to make simple—but effective—toys from local household or natural materials.
At Mattel, this partnership opens up a new way of working with our business teams by engaging their core expertise to deliver purpose, resulting in a heightened sense of accomplishment and more engaged employees. That engagement was clear when our teams reported back from the field and shared pictures of the children their work will impact.
In the future, our engineers and designers will be able to look back and know their toys helped thousands of vulnerable children learn and develop. They will also be better designers, using what they learned from Save the Children to instill new learning methods into all the toys they design.
Together, Save the Children and Mattel can do more than we could on our own, and we are excited to demonstrate how play can improve learning outcomes and also give parents, teachers, and children the skills to build a better world.
Vocabulary is central to a child’s academic achievement. Research shows that the right start to school can set a child on a path toward success in school and life, but children who lag in vocabulary skills are at a disadvantage long before they begin their first day of kindergarten. Unfortunately, the repercussions of that vocabulary deficit may become more pronounced over time.
In support of children’s vocabulary development, PNC has undertaken a number of initiatives to serve at-risk children from birth to age 5. They are part of PNC Grow Up Great®, a $350 million, bilingual, multi-year initiative in early childhood education. Our decision to focus on vocabulary is rooted in studies that demonstrate its impact on children’s learning.
To create the vocabulary initiative, PNC engaged its Grow Up Great Advisory Council, made up of highly respected early education experts and nonprofit organizations, to help set direction and strategy. Their guidance led to the establishment of a holistic, comprehensive approach that includes information and resources for communities, families and their children, educators, and the broader public.
PNC Grow Up Great®, underway in 10 cities, involves community organizations collaborating to help families and caregivers teach children vocabulary from multiple contexts as a means to ensure greater comprehension and retention. The fun, educational settings promote families’ awareness of the importance of talking with their children and help reinforce the skills and routines to build children’s vocabulary.
Contributing organizations also collaborate by sharing tips and best practices across projects in the 10 cities. An independent evaluation of the program showed that participating families increased the frequency of interactions that build vocabulary, such as reading, singing, and nature walks. Also, most families reported adding daily activities with their children to improve their vocabulary development.
Another component of our vocabulary initiative is a collection of free, widely available resources developed by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” as part of its long-term partnership with PNC. Words Are Here, There, and Everywhere is a multimedia, educational initiative that offers a DVD featuring a “Sesame Street” episode and family resources, including a word tree, Adventure Cards, digital storybooks, and a supporting passport and activity book. The free Sesame Workshop resources are integrated into PNC Grow Up Great grant programming and can be downloaded on Grow Up Great’s website and obtained at PNC Bank branches.
Children and families can also experience PNC’s vocabulary development program at community events and festivals through its Mobile Learning Adventure, a traveling exhibit that raises awareness of the importance of early learning. From within bright orange tents, parents and caregivers engage with their children in fun activities that help broaden their knowledge of words.
Vocabulary development is also highlighted as part of the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. This online repository of teacher lesson plans contains several developmentally appropriate learning activities for children. The lessons were created by leading nonprofit institutions from arts and sciences programs funded by PNC. Each lesson plan includes relevant vocabulary words with child-friendly definitions and includes an English/Spanish printout that children share with families to extend learning beyond the classroom.
PNC employees support children’s language development through their volunteerism in the classroom and at community-wide vocabulary grant programming and Mobile Learning Adventure events. PNC encourages their participation through a progressive policy that permits up to 40 hours a year of paid time off in support of Grow Up Great. In addition, PNC provided resources to help educate employees on best practices for reading to children. The primer was developed by Dr. Barbara Wasik, a Grow Up Great Advisory Council member who also holds the PNC Early Education Chair at Temple University.
In addition to the community grants and resources described above, a grant to Thirty Million Words Initiative® (TMW) supports a longitudinal study to assess the long-term impact of TMW’s home-visiting curriculum on children’s development, and in particular their school readiness. It also supports TMW’s program of working with parents in the home to increase conversations with children as a means to build their vocabulary.
To learn more about our resources and the impact of our multifaceted, innovative approach to help close the vocabulary gap and support school readiness, please visit pncgrowupgreat.com.
Chapter Two: Employee Engagement
Leaving something better than I found it really motivates me. I like to move things forward in a positive direction. That’s what excites me about Booz Allen—our people want to change the world, and they’re doing it. And not just for our clients, but for our communities nearby and around the globe.
Changing the world requires passion, innovation, an embracing of technology, and leaders to demonstrate a commitment to service and the core values we embrace.
Growing Great Leaders
A few years ago, Booz Allen asked ourselves this question: How can we combine our passion for changing the world with a model for educating and growing great leaders, and while we’re at it, tangibly serving our communities? We already had a significant track record of success in developing a strategic learning and development program to meet the needs of our 22,000+ diverse staff. We knew something good was about to happen.
In 2012, we launched the Leadership Excellence Program (LEP) for Senior Associates, an intensive six-month pipeline development program with a residential session, assessments, coaching, and a community-based project. Designed to prepare top talent to take on broader roles, increase retention, and expand the representation of women in leadership, this program has also generated significant community impact.
The not-for-profits we support through LEP are facing issues related to enterprise-level board development, funding, or strategic alignment—challenges that call for strategy, vision, leadership, and finesse.
LEP participants are Booz Allen employees from various geographies, teams, demographics, areas of expertise, and tenure, and who must be recommended to the program. They are pushed beyond their comfort zones by working outside of their areas of expertise, collaborating with new clients on unfamiliar assignments, and engaging with peers they have never worked with before. These circumstances, along with the mentoring from project champions, accelerate learning and skill building.
In this program, participants learn how to collaborate with a team of high performing peers—a skill that prepares them for the dynamics of working with senior leaders inside and outside the firm. Our clients come to us with challenges that they are unable to solve, and we pride ourselves in helping clients “get unstuck.”
In turn, LEP participants grow and mature in their leadership journey—developing key leadership and business skills, applying learning objectives in meaningful client engagements, strengthening their peer networks, and gaining valuable insights from senior Booz Allen leaders.
Over the past four years, 215 employees have clocked more than 15,000 pro bono hours in service of 33 deserving not-for-profit clients while participating in LEP—an average of 70 hours per person. The estimated consulting value of our investment in our communities is more than $2.8 million.
The 33 organizations represent a variety of missions—from supporting veterans and their families and advocating for victims of human rights abuses to helping at-risk schoolchildren—and our projects have local, national, and international impact. We’ve helped the Bob Woodruff Foundation, The American Red Cross, The ALS Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and many more.
LEP participants get a unique view of the not-for-profits they’re helping, one different from a traditional volunteer assignment. They work side by side with executive-level leaders and/or the board of directors. As Booz Allen ambassadors in our community, these teams gain client intimacy, assess the organizations’ challenges, and deliver high-impact solutions.
Feedback from participants and the nonprofits we’ve supported has been resoundingly positive. One past participant told us, “This program was an amazing opportunity to grow my skills as a leader while working alongside some of the best and brightest at Booz Allen. It was empowering to see the impact we were having for these nonprofit organizations and the firm’s commitment to making a difference.”
The Bob Woodruff Foundation needed help quantifying the impact of its grant funding. As a result of the LEP team’s work, the foundation now has the metrics to evaluate the impact of its grants to nonprofit partners and also evaluate trends affecting the veteran community, allowing the organization to shift its focus and assistance as needed. The organization knows with confidence that every dollar invested is making a difference for veterans and wounded warriors.
LEP participants helped one global community health-based organization, Project HOPE, develop an innovation framework to, among other things, identify local successes that could be scaled across its global organization. One Project HOPE leader said, “Booz Allen helped us think more broadly, more innovatively about the work of our organization. They gave us the confidence to be innovative, and their work validated our journey forward.”
The 2017 LEP cohort is in full swing, with 42 participants helping eight not-for-profits dealing with issues related to disaster response, mental health, veteran support, community health, and much more. I for one can’t wait to see the outcomes the programs we’re supporting this year. This is why my job is so exciting—Booz Allen people are changing the world, and hopefully in the process leaving it better than we found it.
Deloitte is a people business—we care about supporting our talent while also cultivating future talent in our communities. When we developed our RightStepTM program, Deloitte’s commitment to education, we focused on how Deloitte could support and scale innovations to help improve education opportunities for low-income students. Investing in education was a no–brainer, but we were challenged to figure out how we could make an impact to help set underserved students on the path to persist through high school and college and transition successfully to the workforce. We knew that mobilizing our talent was a key factor to success.
With more than 55,000 professionals across the United States, we have the capacity to make an impact at scale. And we know how important engaging our people is to the success of our business. According to Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends” 2016 report, 85% of executives surveyed rated engagement as an important or very important priority for their business. The statistics reflecting the impact of mentors tell a powerful story as well. With a mentor, at-risk youth are 55% more likely than their peers to be enrolled in college and 52% less likely to skip a day of school. This business data point combined with the social impact statistics compelled us to increase our focus on mentoring in a way that was accessible and easy for our professionals. For our increasingly virtual workforce, the answer was virtual mentoring.
This summer we launched RightStep Virtual Mentoring, a program sponsored by the Deloitte Foundation and in collaboration with Strive for College. Our employees engage in meaningful mentoring relationships anytime and anyplace through the UStrive virtual mentoring platform, which tracks all interaction and activity between our mentors and mentees. We have recruited more than 700 Deloitte professionals as mentors in our first few months to help low-income students navigate the college application process. And we continue to see interest across Deloitte’s business units and geographic markets. Virtual mentoring was a logical fit for our business culture, in which we continue to encourage virtual teaming.
Getting our professionals to engage was step one, and then we needed to help prepare them to be effective mentors to address the challenges and obstacles that low-income students often face in the college application process. We engaged subject matter specialists from Strive and from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, who helped support us in managing mentoring relationships, training, and evaluating effective mentoring efforts. We also needed to coach our professionals in ways we didn’t expect initially. For example, we had to remind our mentors to meet students where they are in the process and support them in areas where they needed the most guidance as they advanced through the college preparation stages; this included helping them search for schools, reviewing their college essays, and assisting them in the financial aid application process. In addition, our mentors were coached on taking time to build trust and creating the plan of action together with their mentee because that helps set up both parties for success in the mentoring relationship.
Since September, we have engaged more than 700 Deloitte professionals who have in turn mentored more than 1,100 students. Deloitte’s mentees will begin hearing from colleges in the spring. However, early indicators already suggest the significant impact we have had. For example, Jerry, a high school senior whose family emigrated from Haiti to New York City, opened his early college admission email from Harvard on camera and shared the excitement of his acceptance in a video. He reported that his Deloitte mentor, Forrest, “puts me at ease by telling me how he’d dealt with the same things and navigated through them. He gives me very good advice and information.
“Having a real, live person to go through that whole process with is really helpful and comforting,” said Jerry. “I didn’t receive the same vague information I’d heard before. Forrest is very honest and candid, easy to talk to, and he gives me real advice that zones in on the specific problems and questions I have.” We expect to see hundreds more stories like Jerry’s and Forrest’s.
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), a U.K. private company limited by guarantee, its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the U.S. member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States, and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.
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Quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education provides career opportunities for students while at the same time helping employers meet their future workforce needs. It makes sense, then, that companies focus their STEM outreach with an eye toward their future growth strategy and in the areas where they anticipate needing skilled workers.
Through Dow’s commitment to Building the Workforce of Tomorrow, we are making that focus an increasingly important part of our signature program, Dow STEM Ambassadors, a volunteer group that leverages the expertise and passion of our employees in the quest to improve STEM education opportunities in our communities. More than 2,000 employees engaged globally in 2016, with many receiving specialized training allowing them to effectively share their insights with students and teachers in a variety of settings.
One challenge Dow is facing is that while our program is focused on chemistry and engineering—two fields that are very important to Dow—we are also in great need of a skilled manufacturing workforce across our sites globally. One of the locations where this is evident is at Dow’s Louisiana Operations, where the majority of the local workforce is in manufacturing fields. Locally we forged strategic partnerships with community colleges to address our manufacturing workforce needs, such as our U.S. Apprenticeship Program, which expanded last year to include Louisiana. However, to get the most out of these programs, we knew we needed to get students excited and prepared to go into these fields.
Many students, parents, and teachers are simply not aware of the career opportunities available in manufacturing in terms of their functions, how well they pay, and—despite many requiring only a two-year degree—the high level of skill that is needed. Add to this common stigmas around the manufacturing sector, and we knew we had a challenge on our hands.
We believe the best way to help these groups better understand manufacturing opportunities is to engage them with our talented workforce in these career fields, such as our chemical process operators or instrument technicians. To make this happen, the Louisiana STEM Ambassador team developed Be the T, a program that includes activities related to technicians’ duties in a manufacturing plant.
Students get a hands-on experience that showcases the skills used by technicians on a daily basis. They also get a broader understanding of the various manufacturing career paths, the chance to engage directly with people in these job roles, and information on local colleges that can prepare them to enter these jobs.
Bo Hilty, lead manufacturing engineer at Dow’s production facility in Weeks Island, Louisiana, and one of the co-creators of Be the T, described these technicians as “the life blood of our company.” He added, “These are the people who run our plants. We need our communities to understand how exciting and important these jobs are.”
In 2016, we tracked almost 500 STEM Ambassador student engagements in Louisiana, reaching more than 10,000 students. We realize not all of these students will work for Dow, but we believe a vibrant innovation and manufacturing sector leads to economic growth, and we want young people to be aware of the array of exciting STEM career options. And we’re already seeing some evidence of a dividend for Dow from STEM Ambassador activity. Hilty shared that he’s noticed a rise in the number of people showing interest in local apprenticeship and community college programs.
There is one more valuable benefit: Employees love it. Many STEM Ambassadors find that they enjoy the opportunity to share their expertise and career path. Many also report having gained new skills, such as stronger ability to communicate technical subjects across varied audiences or better presentation skills. Hilty said he is often approached by employees who thank him for making STEM Ambassadors available and say they are excited to get out and do more.
Shari Schexnayder, a local STEM Ambassador, put it this way: “It’s so exciting when you see a child ‘get it,’ when they put it together and it all starts making sense. When they learn a new skill, their face just lights up. If I can covey to students that they are intellectually capable and that they can achieve whatever goal they dream, then I have succeeded.”
Visit Dow’s career page to see videos highlighting different career paths, including those in manufacturing fields.
We are in the midst of a global discussion about the roles of government, business, and individuals in creating an inclusive society. Rather than standing idle and watching what may evolve, the business community has an immense opportunity to make a positive contribution through private-sector mentoring.
By connecting underserved students to their college dreams, private-sector mentoring can be an engine of inclusive growth, addressing social mobility, unemployment, job creation, and the looming skills gap that threatens to choke business growth as well as societal equity.
The Business Case for Private-Sector Mentoring
Despite our nation’s considerable resources, too many of our youths are impacted by poverty and community violence, struggle to complete their education, and then become young adults who have trouble finding a career foothold in our current economy. Despite the increase in U.S. high school graduation rates to a modern record of 83.2%, there is still a gap of about 14 percentage points for students from low-income families, with Black, Hispanic, and Native American students having the hardest time reaching graduation. This represents a loss of talent, human capital, and societal contribution that the United States cannot afford.
At the same time, many industries are having difficulty finding qualified and well-prepared employees. It’s estimated that over 60% of all new jobs in the next decade will require some postsecondary education, yet far too many youths struggle to build the academic skills that allow them to enroll in or complete college. And these same young people often also lack financial resources and networks of support critical for helping them persist through college graduation.
Clearly we must do more to nurture young people through their challenges, ensure their personal and educational development, and provide greater support in joining and contributing to our workforce.
Some of America’s Top Corporations and Businesses Are Working to Meet This Challenge
The good news is that many organizations in the private sector are marshalling their skills, expertise, resources, and substantial human capital to provide support, connectivity, and often a window into the world of employment for underserved youth across America—often in creative and innovative ways.
At EY, for example, our College Mentoring for Access and Persistence (MAP) program matches employee volunteer mentors with groups of local 11th and 12th graders in underserved high schools so that they can gain access to college and succeed in higher education. Since its inception in 2009, EY College MAP has helped more than 1,200 students begin their postsecondary journey.
As more U.S. companies become involved with private-sector mentoring, we show the world that business, not politics, can drive inclusive social change. To learn more, download our report, “Mentoring: At the Crossroads of Education, Business and Community,” www.ey.com/us/youthmentoring.
. U.S. high school graduation rate is up—but there’s a warning label attached (Washington Post, October 27, 2016)
. National Center for Education Statistics, May 2016
Chapter 3: Access Through Technology
Students don’t clamor for textbooks the way they do for smartphones and tablets. They don’t engage with science problems on paper the way they do when using augmented reality (AR) to explore the world around them. Worldwide, children’s love of electronic media for learning is palpable. In rural Myanmar, for example, students walk a little faster to school on the days they’ll be using tablets in the classroom.
Education is vital to social and economic progress in all countries. Yet too many of the world’s children are not in school. Among the startling global statistics in “Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” a 2016 report by the secretary-general of the United Nations, 59 million children of primary school age were not in school in 2013. Additionally, of the 757 million adults who are unable to read and write, two-thirds are women. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2016 “Global Education Monitoring Report” puts the completion rate of upper secondary education in low-income countries at just 14%.
Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ is a strategic initiative that has been bringing advanced wireless technology to underserved communities over the past 10 years. With a goal of using mobile technology for social and economic development, many of our programs align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 4—quality education for all. In our view, mobile technology is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to achieve universal education. Fast, affordable, and prevalent, it enables access to quality educational content and resources, regardless of location or socio-economic status.
In Myanmar, where the World Bank estimates more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates enrollment of children in secondary school at just above 50%, the Connect to Learn Myanmar program works to improve the literacy, numeracy, and life skills of 21,000 students, half of whom are marginalized girls. The program—a collaboration between Wireless Reach, Ericsson, the U.K. Department for International Development, UNESCO, Earth Institute, EduEval Educational Consultancy, Finja Five, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications, and Myanmar’s Ministry of Education and Technology—provides 3G-enabled laptops to teachers, Qualcomm-enabled tablets to students, wireless connectivity, and cloud-based educational content and resources to leapfrog archaic models of learning.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that one extra year of secondary school can increase girls’ future earnings 10%-20%. In addition to providing professional development for more than 150 teachers to improve teaching quality, Connect to Learn Myanmar provides scholarships to help deserving girls from impoverished backgrounds stay in school, complete their secondary education, and increase their employment opportunities.
Preparing today’s students to become career ready is an equally important focus of Wireless Reach education programs in the United States. A 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that jobs demanding skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) will continue to grow at a faster rate than non-STEAM-related jobs in coming years.
Our STEAMing Ahead With Mobile Learning program in San Diego, California, uses advanced wireless technology to bridge the gap between academic content and real-world learning experiences, increase student engagement in learning, and prepare students for future careers in STEAM fields. In collaboration with the San Diego Public Library Foundation, San Diego Public Library, and e3 Civic High (a charter school located within the San Diego Central Library), Qualcomm and partners designed a learning platform unique to the elements of the Central Library structure to engage students in learning about the impact of STEAM on the world around them.
Core to this learning experience was the 113 feet high steel lattice dome that graces the top of the Central Library structure. Using Qualcomm technology, the project focused on leveraging AR content that utilized mobile, context-aware 4G technologies to allow the students to interact with digital information embedded within the library’s physical environment.
This innovative program provides the school’s ninth grade students with 4G-enabled tablets and an AR application that guides them embedded within the library’s physical environment. The content teaches students STEAM concepts about the dome’s construction and includes quizzes to assess their comprehension.
The majority of students agree that using the technology increases their engagement in learning about the dome. As one student said, “This was a great experience. This could be the new way of learning for the next generation of students like me.”
At Qualcomm, we share this student’s dream, and we’re committed to expanding educational opportunities to underrepresented students globally.
When their teacher asked them to take a hard look at issues affecting people in their community, a group of students at Ridgewood Middle School in Missouri noticed that some of their peers with disabilities had trouble staying upright in their wheelchairs. And so, the students got to work with compressed cardboard, cutting and shaping various components to create cost-efficient, light-weight classroom furniture that would make their friends more comfortable. This is the essence of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest.
For seven years, Samsung hosted its annual Solve for Tomorrow Contest in the U.S., challenging students to use science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) skills to address a problem in their community. The Solve for Tomorrow Contest was created to address the technology gap and career readiness shortage in STEAM skills among U.S. students. The contest engages students in active, hands-on STEAM learning that can be applied to real-world issues to make a difference. From combating the drought in California to replenishing food deserts in Indiana, Solve for Tomorrow has empowered students to develop remarkable community projects.
At Samsung, we believe that success goes hand in hand with being a good corporate citizen. As such, we strive to be a good corporate citizen in the communities where we live and work. As the largest electronics company in the world, we are made up of technologists and engineers, and it’s important to us to make sure that we play our role to encourage students interested in STEAM subjects and related future careers. Through Solve for Tomorrow, we are helping to excite the next generation of students in STEAM, giving them a voice that resonates with their school leadership and their communities, and providing valuable technology resources to their schools.
Inspiring STEAM Careers
Since its inception in 2010, Solve for Tomorrow has awarded more than $9 million in technology to nearly 1,000 schools across the country. But at Samsung, we believe the projects and direct student engagement speaks for itself. For example, students at Downtown College Prep in San Jose, California, understandably saw the state’s current drought as a major issue in their community and so designed a project to meet the mandated 20% reduction in water reduction. The students worked on a plan to help their community achieve this drastic drop in water usage in the average home. The team used STEAM skills to create and install a gray water system as well as a rain water storage system in a local home with the goal of helping the entire community use less water. After Downtown College Prep was named a National Winner, it saw 45% of students enrolled in an engineering course for the 2015-2016 school year.
Over the course of the contest, Samsung has had a direct impact on challenging students to think about STEAM differently and consider a STEAM career. In an interview with Fox News, Madison Heeter, a student at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie and the 2014-2015 National Winner, said, “We’re just high schoolers, but to be able to make a change in our community is just an awesome feeling.” She added that this personal dimension of the project—understanding how engineering skills can be used to make a direct impact on communities—inspired her to aspire to enter the engineering field after high school. “There are only four girls in my class, three of us are juniors,” Heeter said. “Working on this really gave me an outlook on the power of women in engineering. It really got me to think of what role I could play in this.”
Another example is Meera Petroff, who wasn’t interested in STEAM in 10th grade but unlocked her passion for the topics through the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. Meera is currently studying engineering at Oregon State University.
Our hope is that through Solve for Tomorrow we are able to create more students like Meera and Madison in the years to come.
When Southwest Airlines partnered with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to create the ¡Lánzate! (Take Off!) Travel Program in 2005, the mission was simple: Help Hispanic students complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees while staying close to family. With recognition by the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics in 2015 and more than 1,000 students impacted, ¡Lánzate! proved to be an innovative solution to an old problem.
A Problem and a Partner
In 2004, Christine Ortega of Southwest Airlines’ Community Affairs & Grassroots team took a hard look at demographic data and was troubled by what she saw. As part of a team charged with tackling issues in the diverse communities Southwest served, Ortega found pressing issues among the African-American and Asian communities regarding education. But one unique issue involving access to education in the Hispanic community stood out to Ortega—and she wanted to do something about it.
Culturally, Hispanic students are encouraged to remain close to family after completing high school to be a source of financial support. While this maintains and strengthens the family ties, it can also prohibit students from living up to their full academic potential.
“Parents do not want to see their children leave,” Ortega said. “You stay home and stay in a safe environment. We also have larger families, generally, and that also comes into play. Family members, in a lot of cases, are expected to contribute to the family financially. It’s not that they don’t want the kids to get educated, but the value of family plays out differently.”
Recognizing this problem, Ortega set out to find a partner that would help Hispanic students who did travel away from home complete their baccalaureate or advanced degrees and remain connected to family. After several conversations with HACU, a nonprofit dedicated to championing success of Hispanics in higher education and advocating for Hispanic-Serving Institutions, a partnership was born.
In order to be eligible for ¡Lánzate!, students must be pursuing a degree more than 200 miles from home and complete an online application and essay on how the travel award would aid them in achieving their educational goals. Southwest and HACU convene an annual meeting of panelists made up of college professors and education advocates to select program participants. Participants receive up to four round-trips to visit home during the year.
HACU has built a great network with access to Hispanic students through outreach and its network of member institutions. When combined with Southwest Airlines’ contribution of air travel, this positions ¡Lánzate! to be a powerful and transformative agent of change in the lives of the students and their families.
“The essays we receive demonstrate how important family visits are to a successful higher education experience for Hispanic college students,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.
Some essays make it clear that a ticket home can be the difference between finishing school and dropping out. For other participants, ¡Lánzate! is just the beginning of a family’s journey into higher education.
“We had one participant that needed a ticket for her father to travel to her institution so he could see that she was going to be safe,” Ortega recalled. “Otherwise he wouldn’t let her leave home. The impact was the cultural barrier that was broken. She had six siblings at home who were watching, who will now be able to go away for college. She knew that if she couldn’t get away and go to school, the rest of her siblings wouldn’t be able to either. These are some of the stories we see. It’s not just about taking your dad to make sure you’re OK. We’re impacting six more lives.”
With both HACU and Southwest Airlines continuing to grow, ¡Lánzate! is well positioned to continue helping Hispanic students fly toward their dreams.
Chapter 4: STEM Education
Over the past 25 years, the Amgen Foundation has worked to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, particularly biology education, around the world. We have a long-standing history of reaching students through hands-on science programs such as the Amgen Biotech Experience and the Amgen Scholars Program, which have reached more than 500,000 students worldwide.
We also realize there is an opportunity to make science accessible to all students—and to increase scientific literacy around the globe—so in 2016 we entered into a partnership with Khan Academy to build a comprehensive online repository on core biology topics at the high school and introductory college level. Khan Academy is a leading, innovative, and effective educational technology platform—with over 50 million registered users—with demonstrated power to shape and transform how we learn, including in science.
STEM: Embracing the T to Power the S
Technology has the power to exponentially increase the reach of the Amgen Foundation’s efforts—and ensure access to those who need it most. The online platform is free to all to use, and it provides those with little access to science education—whether due to income status or location—the ability to increase their knowledge on myriad subjects.
Amgen Foundation’s work with Khan Academy started with an initial one-year partnership, which funded the creation of over 450 new biology content items including videos, articles, and exercise questions fully aligned to education standards. In addition, a large group of expert volunteers from Amgen, the Amgen Scholars Program, and the Amgen Biotech Experience volunteered their expertise to Khan Academy.
Expanding Access and Improving Outcomes
The biology content garnered immediate attention, with learners expressing their appreciation for the new materials via social media. One learner shared via Facebook, “The biology lessons help me focus on my studies in Advanced Placement (AP) and gain a real-world approach to the content. It isn't just my textbook.” Another learner tweeted about the experience of using the resources: “Khan Academy is going to be the reason I pass Biology.” We’ve heard this same sentiment echoed from many other learners across the globe who have shared their appreciation of the work of Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and his team to offer these high-quality lessons.
In fact, Derek Wan, a freshman at University of California, Berkeley who is studying neuro-molecular biology, said, “Other people in my class struggled, and I would just regurgitate Sal’s response to them. That made me feel like I could understand biology—as long as I got it the right way; as long as I could spend time with it. That’s the feeling that Khan Academy gave me.”
The Next Generation of Science Education
The initial partnership was so successful that we recently announced a new three-year, $3 million grant to continue to build the Khan Academy’s biology library. The new content will build on its existing biology resources to develop a truly comprehensive offering of videos, articles, and intensive practice exercises, from ninth grade biology through AP biology. By creating high-quality and free primary learning resources in AP biology, Khan Academy hopes to increase access to AP courses and practice resources for low-income students.
With this new commitment, Amgen Foundation has become Khan Academy’s Science Partner, and we will continue to engage Amgen staff and others in this work.
“With the long-term support of the Amgen Foundation as our Science Partner, Khan Academy is poised to become a leading provider of free, high-quality science content that can scale to reach millions of learners across the country and world,” said Sal Khan.
Today’s youth will become the next generation of innovators who will create the cures that will eradicate diseases or discover new methods that will revolutionize the field of medical biotechnology. It is important that we help nurture, engage, and inspire future scientists in the United States and across the globe. This continuing partnership will help us do just that.
Visit amgeninspires.com and follow @AmgenFoundation on Twitter for updates on progress and more details of the partnership, and visit khanacademy.org to see all the educational resources Khan Academy provides.
For the middle-skill workforce in the 20th century, the typical career path meant getting a job out of high school and learning a trade. It’s different in the 21st century. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and many people don’t have access to the digital economy due to gaps in education, skills, and financial resources. Capital One is dedicated to providing opportunities and resources that will enable more people to succeed in an ever-changing economy.
Launched in 2015, Capital One’s Future Edge initiative is providing $150 million in community grants and initiatives over the course of five years to help people thrive, in ways including the following:
- Helping people develop skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow
- Harnessing technology to help entrepreneurs succeed and hire those people
- Helping people at all stages of their lives take better control of their personal finances to invest in their future
Its C1 Coders Program is a perfect example of how Future Edge is helping students get ready for tomorrow. C1 Coders helps middle school students develop a greater interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics during a critical period in their education. Through the 10-week program, Capital One associate volunteers teach students in schools across the country about problem solving, teamwork, and basic principles of software development and coding in a fun and engaging environment.
Using MIT App Inventor 2 as a learning platform, students learn how to develop apps for mobile devices while growing computational thinking skills like algorithms, abstraction, decomposition, pattern recognition, and generalization, instead of focusing on a specific programming language, or syntax. Offered during school breaks, C1 Coders Camps provide hands-on coding experience, plus design thinking training and TEDx-style talks from Capital One executives, culminating in a one-day hackathon. C1 Coders Ignite Events are designed to spark students’ curiosity about software development, teaching them to program touchscreen mobile apps through a full- or half-day hackathon-style learning event.
Thanks to hundreds of Capital One volunteers, more than 1,500 students participated in C1 Coders in 2016. The most exciting part is that the students created working mobile apps that they can share with their friends and family.
Capital One believes education is essential to unlocking one’s potential, especially in high-needs fields like science, engineering, and technology. And through Future Edge programs like C1 Coders, with the right skills, knowledge, and drive, everyone can start down the path of success.
The STEM Challenge
Developing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-educated workforce is a national priority. There are simply not enough U.S. students graduating with the degrees and skills necessary to meet the demands of the 21st century job market.
While many STEM programs target high school and college students, an issue remains: The path toward a STEM career most often begins with a love of science nurtured at a young age.
Science is at the heart of GSK—a science-led global health care company. GSK employs 10,000 scientists around the world, including about 4,000 in the United States. A strong pipeline of STEM-educated students is critical to our business success.
GSK Science in the Summer™
GSK is developing the next generation of scientists through our signature program, GSK Science in the Summer™ (SIS). For more than 30 years, it has been our privilege and priority to spark a lifelong passion for science in children. This special program was created in 1986 by GSK scientist Dr. Virginia Cunningham, who found herself among only a handful of female scientists in her field. It was her vision to create a fun, free, hands-on experience for children in the community. Cunningham's concept, with a special focus on engaging girls and minorities in experiment-based exploration, became SIS.
Since that first year, when SIS was offered to one classroom of Philadelphia-area students, the program has expanded to reach tens of thousands of children each year. This growth has been made possible through grants to world-class science institutions: The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and The University of North Carolina Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
As we approached the 30-year anniversary of this special program, we reflected on the how the program was able to grow and develop within our local communities of Philadelphia and the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. We also realized that SIS needed to do more than just grow incrementally; it needed to be taken to scale nationally.
With three decades of success and learning under our collective belts, along with support from GSK leadership across the business and the national charge to make STEM a priority, we set out on a bold expansion of our free science education program with the goal to help thousands more elementary school children “grow into science.”
Achieving scale was a multiyear effort beginning in 2015 with the expansion of 12 additional sites, which established a broad national footprint for SIS. In 2016, we deepened our national footprint by expanding to 20 cities. These new sites reach some of the most disadvantaged students in America, including homeless children in Louisiana and Native American students on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana.
In 2017, we shifted our focus from scale to sustainability, and The Franklin Institute was selected to lead our now national program. Under the direction of The Franklin Institute, top museums and science centers across the country will host the program on site as well as bring classes to schools, libraries, shelters, camps, Boys & Girls Clubs, and homeschool groups.
Once the decision was made to expand SIS’s national footprint, we knew that executing delivery of quality programming would be key to ensuring credibility and sustainability. This includes designing a curriculum that is appropriate for and appealing to a wider audience of children.
The coursework and activities must be scientifically rigorous, aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, and exciting so that the children foster the critical skills and the love of learning. The curriculum was developed by a team of educators lead by a Ph.D. who has been a SIS instructor for more than 20 years, along with the education leads from the University of North Carolina Moorhead Planetarium, the Franklin Institute, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Before the summer classes begin, the coursework and activities are tested in focus groups of students and teachers.
This summer, SIS students at sites across the country will learn about “The Science of Sport.” The new curriculum will give young participants a peek into how science supports the world of sports. Students will determine examples and characteristics of sports, discover how science is used to enhance sports performance, and explore the role of nutrition through experiential activities. Students will build models to understand the science behind the development of equipment that protects and heightens an athlete’s performance as well as understand how the brain communicates with the body. In addition, students will explore the physics of several popular sports such as football, soccer, and basketball.
This summer, SIS will be successfully scaled into a national, sustainable STEM intervention with quality programming at 28 sites throughout every region of the country. More important, SIS has ignited a passion for science in 160,000 children nationwide since the original launch more than 30 years ago. Delivering this level of impact required GSK to reinforce our unwavering commitment to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. We believe the results are good for students, good for business, and good for America.
It doesn’t require rocket science to understand troublesome trends in U.S. education: The United States ranks 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. Only 16% of American math-proficient high school seniors hold interest in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career. And only half of those who pursue a college major in STEM fields end up working in one. By 2020, the estimated supply-demand gap of U.S. STEM talent will reach 1.3 million.
This gap not only threatens our nation’s technological advantage—particularly in energy systems, materials science, and air mobility—but also affects Lockheed Martin’s talent pipeline and strategic goal achievement. To help close the gap Lockheed Martin began working with schools to expose K-12 and university students to hands-on, meaningful STEM education activities. A key focus involves tapping undeveloped engagement among underrepresented groups—including Hispanics, African-Americans, women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans—who might otherwise lack exposure and access to STEM education.
The company is drawn to multi-stakeholder partnerships. In 2015, Lockheed Martin funded the pilot program for Imagine Science, the first-ever national joint-operations effort to design and implement STEM programs for youth most in need. Four of the nation’s largest and most successful youth development organizations—National 4-H Council, Girls Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the YMCA—joined forces for the first time to inspire underserved children ages 8-14 to enroll and participate in STEM programs. In this partnership, the four national partner organizations coordinated with their local affiliates in three diverse communities (Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; and Orange County, California) to deliver STEM programs according to a three-tiered program model:
- Tier 1 - Exposure Events: Activities that introduce STEM learning and positive youth development connection (target average: two to four hours per youth)
- Tier 2 - Exposure & Engagement: Day-long or noncontinuous multiday activities; i.e., workshops or competitions (target average: four to eight hours per youth)
- Tier 3 - Engagement: Multiday activities integrated into existing programming that sustain engagement over a one- to three-week period, typically including project-based activities, problem solving, and a culmination/capstone experience (target average: 20-30 hours per youth)
We affirmed demand in underserved and underresourced communities for programming that can create positive change around STEM education: 78% of Tier 2 (four to eight hours of programming) participating youths said that they had preexisting yet unrealized interest in science. Imagine Science provides them with experiences that help to cultivate that interest. More than 70% of youths attended over 50% of scheduled programs, demonstrating sustained involvement. Finally, 64% of participants reported an increased interest in STEM, including STEM careers and STEM education at the high school and college levels. This is critical because of steep drop-offs in middle school math achievements among U.S. students.
Who We Reached
- Imagine Science reached 4,044 youths in its pilot phase.
- Seventy-seven percent of participants were from low-income backgrounds.
- Seventy-eight percent of participants were persons of color.
- Across the three pilot communities, the partner organizations delivered 100 events: 37 Tier 1 events, 16 Tier 2 events, and 47 Tier 3 events.
- Over 77% of participants engaged in more than 20 hours of STEM programming, 26% of whom experienced over 30 hours.
Our Impacts Did Not Go Unnoticed
- From partners: One of our partner organizations reported that it was able to serve three times the number of low-income youths that it had during any other prior summer.
- From schools: “Imagine Science is making school viable for my kids in the fall by what’s happening here now with them in the summer.” —School Principal, South Dallas, Texas
- From communities: The Omaha Public Library system has requested to partner with Imagine Science to help fill programming gaps and to explore the development of STEM activity kits for Omaha Public School teachers to check out from the library.
We exceeded our goal for participants from low-income backgrounds by 26%, yet did not exceed in other areas. The level of effort required to recruit underserved youth was higher than local teams anticipated. As a result, the overall local estimates of youth engagement (originally 5,000) as well as the target rate for persons of color (84%) fell a bit short. This fact underscores the tremendous need and opportunity to rally extraordinary levels of combined assets to engage certain disenfranchised groups.
Computing jobs are projected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs. Yet less than half of K-12 schools teach computer programming, and lower-income students have the least access to these learning opportunities.1 In a world where technology is ubiquitous, developing coding skills is similar to building the literacy skills that unlock all other learning.
We can tackle these issues if we start early. Experts agree that young children have the capacity for science learning and inquiry.2 Research shows that the earlier we introduce children to science concepts and practices, the more successful they’ll be in school and the more likely they will be to choose science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
PBS KIDS is uniquely positioned to help. As the No. 1 kids’ educational media brand,3 we use the power of media to help prepare children for school and life. Our multiplatform content is proven to move the needle, and nearly 350 PBS stations across the country help us realize our vision of anytime, anywhere learning—especially in underserved communities. The PBS KIDS learning ecosystem surrounds kids with educational experiences and support from teachers, parents, PBS stations, and like-minded community partners.
For years, PBS KIDS has focused on early STEM learning, developing series like “ODD SQUAD” and “WILD KRATTS.” In 2015, PBS KIDS extended these efforts with the launch of PBS KIDS ScratchJr. A collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and Tufts University, this free app enables children ages 5-8 to create stories, games, and animations featuring PBS KIDS characters, while exploring the basics of coding, an important 21st century literacy that empowers children as “makers” instead of consumers of media.
To deepen the app’s impact, PBS partnered with the Verizon Foundation to create the PBS KIDS Coding-to-Learn Initiative, which provides educators with training on PBS KIDS ScratchJr and connects underserved youth with technology-based programming. PBS KIDS developed resources that introduce coding and computational thinking skills and practices that integrate videos, activities, and creative challenges using PBS KIDS ScratchJr; teacher professional development; parent resources; and supporting materials for classrooms and afterschool settings.
PBS and 10 PBS stations implemented the initiative in low-income communities. As a result, children had gains in computational thinking skills and computer science and were eager to continue creating with technology. Parents agreed that children’s learning was significant and all of the facilitators reported that the afterschool program motivated kids to feel confident with technology and coding. By using characters that kids love, the program made coding more accessible to children and grown-ups, who worked together and had fun learning through play.
Teachers were also empowered. Ninety-two percent of educators reported to now have an average, good, or high understanding of coding and programming—an increase of 53%. Seventy-six percent felt that their approach to teaching would change as a result of the workshop, making them more likely to integrate technology into their classrooms, connect STEM to other subjects, and encourage active learning.
These results are inspiring, especially when considering the potential impact of interventions like these if they were implemented for all of our nation’s young learners.
Looking ahead, our goal is to continue to extend the reach of this exciting prototype. Today, PBS KIDS ScratchJr resources are available for free to the public and used by PBS stations across the country, which connect local educators with media through PBS LearningMedia, a digital library of 120,000 curriculum-aligned assets with 1.8 million users.
If we provide young children with engaging coding and computational thinking experiences that empower them as creators and get them excited about future STEM-based learning, then we will help prepare them for a tech-powered world—and inspire them to reimagine their role in it. The collaboration between media, academia, and corporate entities in service of that vision will lead to large-scale impact in the area of computer science education and beyond.
1 Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 Schools, Gallup in collaboration with Google, 2016; Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education, Gallup in collaboration with Google, 2015.
2 The National Science Teachers Association and the National Research Council, 2007, 2012.
3 Survey of 1,002 adults, 18 years of age and older, who participated via phone. Marketing & Research Resources Inc., January 3-10, 2017.
Chapter 5: Important Lessons for Lifelong Learners
In today’s ever-evolving workforce, the ability to keep up with technology is critical to almost any career; and building a strong foundation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information technology skills like word processing, programming, and even basic coding is more important than ever.
Our country has already invested enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources into filling the STEM skills gap, putting more than $1 billion in private investments in the improvement of STEM education. But as we increase our focus on building technical skills, we must not forget the critical role that “soft skills” also play in efficient workplace interactions. Strong communication, the ability to work in teams, and critical thinking not only supplement practical STEM skills but can also help an organization reach its fullest potential.
As technological advances reshape and redefine roles within the workforce, the human side of strong communication and teamwork is that much more important to keeping things running. Working well with others, demonstrating leadership, and using critical thinking to analyze problems are integral to keeping any company or organization running smoothly, particularly with so many moving, and increasingly complex, parts.
A mastery of soft skills is what differentiates the good teams from the exceptional. As the tech space becomes more and more crowded with capable hands, innovative and thoughtful minds will be the ones to stand out. Employees who can use critical thinking to develop efficient, outside-the-box solutions can help their companies and teams rise above the competition. A company that depends heavily on tech skills can set itself apart from its competitors by thinking of creative ways customers can use their product or being able to communicate effectively with users to figure out how to improve its platform. Soft skills tend to be taken for granted, but they are as important—if not more important—in the workplace today.
Success in tech jobs certainly relies heavily on STEM education, but we do our students a disservice if we assume that this is all they need to know. Although effective communication is essential at every job, it is especially important in the technology sector, where complicated IT projects and jargon can easily lead to a disconnect between employees and executives. The ability to explain complex ideas and demonstrate leadership capability could be the difference between getting hired by a client, chosen by an investor, or recognized by company leadership for a job well done.
But soft skills are learned, and not innate, and that places the onus on us as educators. It’s up to us to take on the important and multilayered task of preparing students to enter the workforce by providing them with the skills and capabilities they need to be competitive, and ultimately succeed, in their careers. Some universities are beginning to offer degrees and programs to help IT professionals hone their soft skills and stay ahead of the curve. And at University of Phoenix, for example, we launched the RedFlint Center in Las Vegas: a co-working space to connect with experts, interact with the latest technologies, and learn valuable soft skills. At RedFlint, employees, companies, and students have access to workshops, simulations, and top technologies, providing students and professionals with the opportunity to grow all of their capabilities.
As technology continues to advance, it’s important that educators and employers expand their definitions of success and preparedness in the IT sphere to include soft skills. Fostering leadership, critical thinking, and innovation in classrooms today will help IT students stand out in the competitive tech industry tomorrow. And the creativity, critical thinking, and leadership ability of IT professionals will help them not only to get ahead in their own careers but to propel the entire industry forward.
For more information about each of these programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit http://www.phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.html.
Discovery Education and the Drug Enforcement Administration Partner to Combat the Opioid Epidemic and Teach Teens the Science of Addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Prescription drug abuse and heroin use has more than doubled among young adults over the past decade, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is on the frontlines of this battle. In a new nationwide initiative, the DEA and Discovery Education have partnered to proactively combat this problem in schools and homes throughout the country.
Since 1999, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids has nearly quadrupled. Today, more than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. This epidemic touches everyone—it cuts across lines of age, race, gender, and wealth, afflicting cities as well as suburbs. A recent study by researchers at New York University found that nearly one in four high school seniors in the United States has been exposed to medical or nonmedical prescription opioids, and 75% of high school heroin users began with prescription opioids. As studies continue to report shockingly high numbers of students misusing prescription drugs, school districts need support to address this crisis.
Historically, there have been very few resources available that engage the entire school community. This year, the DEA and Discovery Education partnered to address this critical issue with the launch of a new nationwide program to tackle opioid abuse, Operation Prevention. As the government body enforcing our nation’s controlled substance laws and regulations, and an established leader in prevention education, the DEA recognized that seeking to make students aware of dangerous behaviors wasn’t enough. By aligning the DEA’s keen understanding of the opioid crisis with Discovery Education’s unparalleled digital reach into classrooms across the country, Operation Prevention seeks to educate students about the science behind addiction, creating a deep understanding of these dangerous behaviors before they start.
The goal behind Operation Prevention is to foster a conceptual understanding of the dangers of opioid abuse, initiating lifesaving conversations in schools and homes nationwide. This free program is designed to engage middle and high school students, educators, and parents, and provides the tools necessary to make smart, informed choices when prescribed or presented an opportunity to experiment with opioids.
Operation Prevention launched in October 2016 with a live, virtual field trip to Fairfax County Public School’s McLean High School, a school personally impacted by this epidemic. The event connected hundreds of thousands of students nationwide with a panel of experts who answered questions in real time. Leveraging the DEA’s subject matter knowledge and Discovery Education’s academic expertise, our organizations co-developed cutting-edge, standards-aligned digital lessons on the science behind opioids’ physical and neurological effects to bring powerful real-world context to science and health classrooms. A self-paced e-learning module combines video, animation, and interactive elements, encouraging students to investigate the impacts of opioids on the brain and body.
To continue the conversation outside of classrooms, we crafted a school-to-home connection strategy that includes a digital Parent Toolkit featuring myriad family resources, like discussions illuminating warning signs and what they mean, as well as parent-specific tools for prevention and intervention. To further reiterate these key messages, Discovery Education has launched the Operation Prevention Video Challenge, designed to empower student voices around this critical message. The video challenge provides a platform for peer-to-peer connection where students create an original public service announcement about the misuse of prescription opioids. Additionally, Discovery Education is working closely with DEA agents, mobilizing their force to activate Operation Prevention in the communities they serve.
In the months since its launch, Operation Prevention has been covered by hundreds of national and regional media outlets, bolstering awareness of the opioid epidemic by reaching millions of readers across the country. More important, Operation Prevention has already engaged an estimated 1 million high school and middle school students throughout the nation. With tremendous support from school districts, superintendents, teachers, and community leaders, a 2017 program expansion is underway to extend the initiative to elementary school classrooms and provide the suite of resources in Spanish to deepen reach and impact. After the virtual launch event, McLean High School Principal Ellen Reilly said, “Operation Prevention will increase awareness of this crisis which is key to developing solutions for those struggling with this issue.” Discovery Education is thankful to be able to support our district partners’ implementation of Operation Prevention, and we are honored to be partnered with the DEA on this innovative approach to battling the opioid epidemic. Tim Phillips, director of the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force, summed it up well when he said, “Every overdose is preventable. Operation Prevention is great for this community … we need to work together to change the stigma.”
A lack of financial literacy can limit kids’ success in college and later in life, and the statistics are staggering: 46% of teens do not know how to create a budget and more than three-quarters of teachers who teach financial literacy indicate a need for more appropriate curriculum resources.
In 2012, with this in mind, PwC US launched Earn Your FutureTM (EYFTM), a five-year, $190 million commitment to teach 2.5 million students and educators how to take control of their finances and establish financial literacy and empowerment. Designed to leverage PwC’s best assets—the talent and time of its people—PwC partners and staff set out to help teach the firm’s free curriculum to students and teachers nationwide.
As PwC entered its fourth year of EYFTM, the firm conducted research for a pulse check on the financial literacy landscape and realized more needed to be done.
The first study, “Millennials & Financial Literacy—The Struggle With Personal Finance,” reinforced that millennials stand at the forefront of the growth of student loan debt and highlighted the gap between the amount of financial responsibility given to young Americans and their ability to manage that responsibility. The second study, “Bridging the Financial Literacy Gap: Empowering Teachers to Support the Next Generation,” indicated that despite teachers’ support of financial education, a number of obstacles still exist that make it difficult to incorporate teaching financial knowledge into the classroom.
These studies reiterated that young people are not learning the crucial financial skills needed to advance economically, and that teachers don’t have the resources to fill in these gaps. PwC saw again and again that students—particularly minorities—lacked a positive role model who they could relate to around this issue; they needed someone who they could connect with who faced the same challenges and succeeded.
Enter Dee-1, a middle school math teacher turned rapper who released a music video in March 2016 called “Sallie Mae Back.” The lyrics describe the difficulties he had paying back his student loans and the euphoria of paying his final bill. The video went viral and received millions of views across YouTube and social channels, signaling its relevancy to young people everywhere. As unlikely as the collaboration might seem—a rapper and professional services firm—PwC asked Dee-1 to support the firm’s work in spreading the message of financial literacy to students around the country.
Announcing their collaboration at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum, a major conference with more than 1,700 leaders, including policymakers, educators, and nonprofit champions, Shannon Schuyler, PwC’s chief purpose officer, and Dee-1 gave a powerful presentation highlighting the nation’s problems around financial literacy and student debt, launched the collaboration, and surprised the crowd with a live performance.
That began a two-week tour in which Dee-1 visited multiple high schools and colleges with PwC to teach and raise awareness about planning and preparing to go to college and pay for it—highlighting EYFTM materials and the need to seek out employer benefits like PwC’s Student Loan Paydown program. PwC and Dee-1 also launched complementary social media campaigns to reach young people where they get their news. To learn more about the Student Loan Paydown benefit, visit our campus site that highlights some of the benefits we offer.
Today, the firm has invested $200 million; its employees have volunteered over 1 million hours; and the program has reached 3.5 million administrators, teachers, parents, and students alike, surpassing its original goal. In addition, the PwC Charitable Foundation Inc. recently invested in a new EYF™ Digital Lab—a dynamic, open-source, interactive digital financial education curriculum—to broaden the scale and access of EYFTM to reach students, parents and guardians, and teachers everywhere.
The firm—in collaboration with Dee-1—is proud to support this cause and help today’s young people build a better, stronger future.
Building design is a powerful tool that can be used to maximize human potential. At DelosTM, we are exploring the intersection between people and the built environment to help create spaces that actively contribute to human health, performance and well-being.
Improve business by focusing on your greatest asset: people
Over 90% of corporate budgets are spent on staff salaries and benefits.1 Employees are therefore our most expensive, and most important assets. Improvements that enhance their productivity, retention, attraction, health, and focus are positioned to have a significant return on investment – and are much needed given over half of U.S. adults have one or more chronic health conditions.2
DelosTM has spent over seven years researching and performing rigorous analysis on how the indoor environment impacts people. In collaboration with a number of medical and industry thought leaders, DelosTM has found that building design has a far-reaching and wide impact. For example, indoor air quality can impact cognitive function, design of stairwells can impact physical activity levels, and proximity to healthy food can influence eating habits.3-5
Building design and wellness programs can also impact employee engagement. (Engaged workers are typically defined as intrinsically motivated employees who feel reciprocally valued and supported by management.) A survey conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, for example, found that 69% of building owners who implemented healthy building features saw improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement.6This is significant considering the costs of disengagement at work is estimated at $550 billion per year.7
Of course, we all know that we cannot manage what we do not measure – and measuring human-related variables like productivity and engagement can be more complicated than measuring kilowatt-hours or profit. The key question, therefore, is how can businesses measure and monitor the impact building upgrades have on employees?
The WELL Building StandardTM
Administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the WELL Building Standard (WELL) is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and well-being in the built environment. It marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research – harnessing the built environment as a vehicle to support human health and well-being. WELL Certified spaces can help create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns and performance of its occupants. To date, WELL has enrolled nearly 330 projects encompassing 70 million square feet in 27 countries.
From research to practice
The American Society of Interior Designers’ (ASID) has achieved LEED Platinum certification and is pursuing WELL Certification for its new corporate headquarters located in Washington, D.C. Sit/stand desks, circadian lighting, an indoor herb garden, and a dedicated wellness room are just a few of the healthy building features incorporated into its recent remodel.
"This accomplishment represents more than just the Society’s commitment to the planet; it demonstrates the high value we place on investing in our members, employees and human-centric design,” said ASID CEO Randy Fiser. The ASID team is collaborating with Cornell University and the Delos Applied Research Program to study the effects these features have on building occupants through pre- and post-certification surveys, environmental testing, and wearable technologies.
1 World Green Building Council, UK Green Building Council. Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The next Chapter for Green Building | UK Green Building Council.; 2014. http://www.ukgbc.org/resources/publication/health-wellbeing-and-productivity-offices-next-chapter-green-building.
2 Gerteis J, Izrael D, Deitz D, et al. Multiple Chronic Conditions Chartbook. Rockville; 2014. https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/preventio.... Accessed January 30, 2017.
3 Allen JG, Macnaughton P, Satish U, Santanam S, Vallarino J, Spengler JD. Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments. Environ Health Perspect. 2015. doi:10.1289/ehp.1510037
4 Nicoll G, Zimring C. Effect of Innovative Building Design on Physical Activity. J Public Health Policy. 2009;30(S1):S111-S123. doi:10.1057/jphp.2008.55.
5 Privitera GJ, Creary HE. Proximity and Visibility of Fruits and Vegetables Influence Intake in a Kitchen Setting Among College Students. Environ Behav. 2013;45(7):876-886. doi:10.1177/0013916512442892.
6 Dodge Data & Analytics. The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report.; 2016. https://analyticsstore.construction.com/smartmarket-reports/HealthierBuildings16SMR.html.
7 Yeung O, Johnston K. The Future of Wellness at Work.; 2016. https://www.globalwellnessinstitute.org/industry-research/. Accessed January 31, 2017.
Chapter 6: Reaching Students Around the World
Studies have shown that almost 20% of young people in Argentina and Brazil under the age of 30 are unemployed. Furthermore, it’s estimated that by the year 2040, almost 40% of Latin America’s labor force will not have a high school degree, let alone any advanced academic or professional training.
At Johnson Controls, we recognize the need to inspire youth throughout our global communities and to find ways to provide purposeful solutions that propel the world forward. We accomplish this through a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education training program focused on at-risk youth. In 2011, Johnson Controls piloted and established our own security and technical training program designed to teach students the skills they need to pursue a career in the security industry.
The Johnson Controls team in Brazil realized the security industry faced an increasing skills gap. Knowing this, we developed a highly specialized security and technology training curriculum to teach students the skills needed to become security systems installers. Over the course of the five-month-long training session, Johnson Controls’ employees lead classes for students on a variety of technical topics, such as computer networks, security systems installation, and video monitoring. At the end of the course, students are prepared to enter the workforce as certified security systems installers.
Currently, we are working to scale and replicate the program in other cities across Latin America. The program will launch in Cordoba and Buenos Aires in March 2017 and will enroll approximately 50 students annually. Additional plans are also underway to launch the program in São Paolo, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile.
Wagner Soares, a business development manager in Brazil, has taught training sessions for two years, and when asked why he is involved, he said that “seeing the motivation of each student to find additional opportunities is something that inspires me as these students otherwise would not have the same opportunity.”
Our partner for six years, Galpão Aplauso, provides an innovative and creative program that supports the technical training and engages students in soft skills training. Due to the immense poverty levels across Latin America, many students have not learned many basic social skills. Through the use of theater and the arts, Galpão Aplauso teaches students these necessary skills as well as basic math skills. After completing the Galpão Aplauso program, students are able to carry a conversation, make eye contact, and understand other basic social cues.
This program not only builds a pipeline of promising young employees for Johnson Controls, but also supports the greater security industry. In fact, after graduation, we host a job fair for the students and invite other local security industry companies to attend. Since the program started, 30-40 students have enrolled in the program each year and more than 100 students have graduated. Students who graduate from the program have gone on to obtain jobs in the security industry and pursue additional educational opportunities, and one student has even started his own security installation business.
Jorge Luiz Soares da Soledade graduated from the program in 2016. Upon graduation he said, “The course opened my horizons and awakened in me the desire to study. … Today, I consider myself a complete professional because I can perform services of installation and electronic security equipment … the course changed my life.” Jorge was able to continue his education at Galpão Aplauso and, today, Jorge is working as a security installer in Brazil.
Johnson Controls realizes that with additional training opportunities and applicable skill sets, students not only can acquire jobs, but can have a career and better support their families and communities.
Syria’s ongoing civil war has displaced and disrupted the lives of millions of people, especially children. Save the Children and Pearson have joined forces to research and develop long-term solutions for the education issues facing Syria’s children.
Walk into nearly any classroom in Jordan and you’ll see schools overflowing with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children displaced by war. Jordan’s schools are overwhelmed and so are the children inside those classrooms—a testament to how Syria’s civil war has caused dramatic disruption in the education of an entire generation of children.
“Some classes have over 60 children,” says Teodora Berkova, director of social innovation at Pearson. “Syrian kids are used to different curriculums, there’s bullying in class. Many of the kids are dealing with trauma from what they’ve lived through during the conflict in Syria.”
Recently, Berkova traveled to Jordan with her team to conduct several weeks of field work. “We wanted to take a deeper look at the problems,” she says, “to help improve the educational opportunities available to both the Syrian refugees and Jordanian communities.”
Mapping a Child’s “Social Ecology”
Berkova leads a unique collaboration between Pearson and Save the Children to improve learning for Syrian refugees and vulnerable children in Jordan. It’s more than just a corporate program to support a good cause.
Pearson brings learning research expertise and innovation to the partnership. Save the Children has been serving children in conflict zones for decades. Both organizations are experts in their respective fields and they are combining that knowledge to look for solutions in what appears to be a long-term disruption in the education of Syria’s young people. That effort began in 2015 with an on-the-ground research process to take an in-depth look at life for refugee children.
“We started by getting as much information as possible about what’s happening every day in a refugee child’s life,” Berkova says.
Research teams spoke with close to 30 families from Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, spending five to six hours, several times a week, with 16 of these families. “We went on errands with them,” Berkova says. “One family invited us to church. Another invited us over for dinner so we could cook together.”
Berkova says the team was looking at academic, psychological, and emotional needs: “From a research perspective, having so much face to face time to get to such a level of dialogue and observation is pretty amazing.” She adds, “It’s not just the whole child, it’s the whole child in their social ecology.”
Berkova and the team of researchers dug through and analyzed their field notes. They then gathered to iron out takeaways from their research.
“There’s always the urge—for good reasons—to rush toward a quick solution in a project like this,” she says. “For us, though, we really wanted to spend enough time in the field to understand the refugee context fully, so that whatever we develop is effective and relevant for the unique needs of kids facing these circumstances.”
Understanding that the refugee crisis and the resulting education issue are not lessening, the team plans to start testing and piloting new learning solutions for Syrian refugees in 2017. Together, Pearson and Save the Children are working with children and the wider community to develop new approaches geared toward helping vulnerable children in Jordan to access their right to education. Through the pilot, Pearson and Save the Children will aim to develop an adaptable model that can be implemented in emergency and conflict settings in the Middle East region and globally.
For more information on this partnership, please visit our “Every Child Learning” webpage.
Chapter 7: Creating Pathways to College and Careers
Job-skills training and internships are providing entry points to careers in manufacturing for underserved youth in the United States, Australia, France, and the United Kingdom.
Youth unemployment is a problem that has serious consequences worldwide, not only for millions of individuals and their families, but for the global economy as well. Paradoxically, many entry-level jobs around the world remain unfulfilled because companies cannot find people with the right skills. The Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth, which is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on behalf of Arconic Foundation and Alcoa Foundation, aims to equip the next generation with the skills and experience to start successful careers in the manufacturing sector.
Arconic Foundation is working with IIE to open young minds to the possibilities of a career in manufacturing with a workforce readiness program that builds confidence and on-the-job skills, gives hands-on exposure to the manufacturing industry through internships, and develops a pipeline of well-prepared and vetted talent for small and medium enterprises in their local communities.
Since 2013, the program, which is now supported by Arconic Foundation and Alcoa Foundation (both successors to Legacy Alcoa Foundation) has supported more than 500 unemployed youths (ages 18 to 24) in Tennessee and Washington in the United States, as well as in Australia, France, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
“Manufacturing is important to communities, but rarely looked at by younger adults as their first-choice career path. This program connects us with this demographic and helps them understand what their future could look like in a manufacturing environment.”
– Jeff Weida, Tennessee Operations Plant Manager, Arconic
To execute the program, IIE works with five local nonprofit organizations that offer both job training and internships with small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies in the local community. Although the particulars of the program vary depending on the nonprofit partner, there are three components that characterize the program across all locations: (1) workforce readiness training and career counseling; (2) a paid internship with a local company (often, but not always, a manufacturing company); and (3) assistance with career planning and placement.
The specific activities and goals associated with each of these program components are as follows:
- Workforce Readiness and Counseling. The program enables participants to acquire work-ready skills (sometimes called “soft” skills), which are generally recognized as interpersonal and communication skills important for professional success, and include skills such as time management, working as a member of a team, and the ability to receive constructive feedback.
- Paid Internship. The program provides participants the opportunity to acquire hands-on training at small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies. The internship experience may also entail safety training, job shadowing, and learning how to perform basic tasks using a specific type of manufacturing equipment.
- Career Planning and Placement. The program helps participants think strategically about their career options and develop career goals. The career planning and placement component may also include career fairs to provide program participants with the opportunity to network with prospective employers.
An extensive monitoring and evaluation component has helped to provide clear markers of success for the program from the perspective of participants, companies, and implementing partners. After four years of proven success working with more than 500 young people from different regions of the world, IIE and Arconic Foundation are using lessons learned and best practices to develop the Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth into a model that can be implemented more efficiently and with broader impact in communities around the world. We see this as a catalyst for fueling the future talent pipeline.
An estimated 5.4 million young Americans and 71 million young people globally are unemployed. Preparing unemployed youth for the job market and connecting them with opportunities that lead to employment is critical to setting up the next generation for success.
As the world’s single largest employer, the travel and tourism sector currently supports one in every 11 jobs worldwide, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Moreover, in an era in which automation is reducing the demand for people in a variety of jobs—and sometimes eliminating jobs faster than new ones can be created—hiring in the hospitality industry is poised to grow, presenting an opportunity for the industry to play an important role in addressing the youth unemployment crisis.
As a global employer in an industry based on people serving people, our business depends on having a strong base of passionate, driven, hard-working employees. We also know that a new generation of employees can provide fresh, new ideas and important insights to better serve the growing cohort of young travelers. For these and many other reasons, we believe it is a responsibility, a necessity, and a privilege to play a role in empowering young people around the world.
In recent years, Hilton has prioritized investing in the next generation as the bedrock of our business, and in 2014 we committed to “open doors” for 1 million young people by 2019 by connecting them to job opportunities in our industry, preparing them with the skills and experience they need to be successful and directly employing them.
Studies show, for example, that there is a growing disconnect between job seekers and the skills companies need, so we’ve created workforce readiness programs that build transferable skills and prepare young people for jobs. Furthermore, in the hospitality industry there is not only a skills gap but also an information gap, with minimal exposure to the nature and extent of meaningful careers in hospitality—which is why we created an annual event, Youth in Hospitality Week, to help young people understand and experience the career opportunities offered in our industry.
But our work doesn’t stop there. We’re working with experts, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and other companies around the world to ensure young people have the skills and opportunity they need to succeed, including the following:
- With our key partner, The International Youth Foundation, we co-created Passport to Success for Hospitality, a life-skills training program for current and future team members to expand soft skills.
- We participate in Youth Career Initiative, an International Tourism Partnership program providing training and opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities.
- We have created 22 school alliances, mutual partnerships for both Hilton and schools to evolve programs in China, and continue to identify future partners as we strengthen our Asia Pacific investments.
- Since 2012, we have partnered with Room-to-Read, an organization aimed at creating educational opportunities for young people, particularly young girls, in South Asia.
- As a member of the Global Apprenticeship Network, which promotes work readiness programs across the world, we continue to support more than 2,500 apprenticeships around the world.
- We are a founding member of the White House’s First Job Compact, aimed at taking action to identify, recruit, and employ out-of-school, out-of-work young people.
- We are a founding member of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, the largest U.S. employer-led coalition committed to creating pathways to meaningful employment for young people.
We’re proud that we have reached the midway point for our “open doors” goal, reaching over half a million young people to date. But we’re not finished yet, and there’s much more we want to do. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals set out ambitious goals for humanity to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity, and they can be achieved only if we invest in and empower the next generation. As our CEO, Chris Nassetta, has said, “It’s imperative that we work together to help youth advance. After all, we have a generation at stake, jobs to fill, and economies to grow.”
Education and the economy, while inextricably linked, are not always aligned. Throughout America, there are young people whose talents remain untapped and, as a result, are outside the economic mainstream. At the same time, there are jobs going unfilled because businesses cannot find skilled workers.
In today’s economy, the majority of jobs in the United States, in fact in every state in the union, are middle skill—or what IBM calls “new collar” jobs. These are jobs that require more than a high school education but not a four-year degree, and most important offer family-sustaining career opportunities. According to the National Skills Coalition, while these jobs account for 53% of the nation’s labor market, only 43% of America’s workers are prepared to fill them.
Why the disconnect? Nationwide, about 20% of community college students finish their degrees within three years. For Black males, the statistics are far worse, with only 11% of Black male students finishing their community college degrees within three years.
The good news is that the public and private sectors are joining forces to simultaneously address education and economic improvement. One powerful solution is the P-TECH 9-14 School Model.
IBM, along with the New York City Department of Education and The City University of New York, created P-TECH in 2011 as a public-private partnership model that blends free, public high schooling with community college and workplace learning. Within six years, students graduate with a high school diploma and an industry-recognized two-year postsecondary degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field, and are first in line for jobs with the industry partner. The schools feature integrated high school and college coursework, along with workplace learning that includes mentoring for all students, worksite visits, speakers, project days, and skills-based internships. The curriculum is mapped to entry-level jobs to ensure that students graduate career ready.
P-TECH has an open admissions policy—with no grading or testing requirements—and is designed to serve historically underserved young people, many of whom will be the first in their families to earn a college degree. The model relies heavily on existing school district budgets and is viable in both urban and rural communities.
The model has garnered cooperation and support from local school districts, government officials, and college and industry partners. To date, more than 300 large and small companies across the country are working with educators and states to adopt this model. There are now 55 schools across six U.S. states—New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado, and Rhode Island—as well as seven schools in Australia. The model will launch in additional schools in the U.S. and internationally this year.
Most important, we are seeing results. For example, the first P-TECH school, P-TECH Brooklyn, and its first class of students are now in their final year—Year 6—of the model. Today, there are more than 550 students attending P-TECH Brooklyn, all of whom were accepted into the school solely based on interest, not grades or testing requirements. The vast majority (approximately 78%) are Black and Hispanic males. More than 70% of students are on free or reduced-price lunch and 17% have individual education programs because of special learning needs. Against this backdrop, 54 students have graduated with their high school diploma and associate in applied science degree, all accelerating through the six-year model in 3.5 to 5.5 years. Nine graduates are working at IBM in early career roles, while the other graduates are pursuing ongoing education.
These results, which are just the tip of the iceberg, are also addressing diversity needs in STEM industries, particularly IT, by enriching business with skilled talent from underrepresented backgrounds. Doing so is a matter of equity and fairness, but also a matter of innovation and economic growth.
U.S. unemployment has finally reached prerecession levels, but millions of Americans are still worried that economic success is out of reach. We know that helping people gain the skills they need to compete in the labor market is a powerful strategy for expanding opportunity and promoting economic mobility. That is why JPMorgan Chase is working to modernize our nation’s education system to enable every child to pursue a meaningful career after high school.
Simply graduating from high school was enough to land a good job 40 years ago, but that is no longer the case. In the 1970s, nearly 75% of jobs were for people with a high school degree or less. Flash forward, that number is now less than 40%—and wages for these jobs have declined by 15%.
It is clear that our economy has changed since the 1970s, but our education system has failed to keep up. Young people who head straight into the workforce after high school are often not prepared with the skills they need to obtain a well-paying job. As a result, millions of young people find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs with little opportunity to advance. Worse yet, too many young Americans end up unemployed and out of school—disconnected from the economy and shut out of opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills, experiences, and connections that lay the foundation for a successful career and middle-class life.
Students have long been encouraged to focus on academics and pursue a four-year college degree after high school, but the reality is that there are millions of good jobs in the modern economy that do not require a bachelor’s degree to start. These are jobs that pay good wages and lead to careers in high-growth industries such as health care, advanced manufacturing, and information technology.
In fact, the U.S. economy will create more than 16 million well-paying jobs through 2024 that do not require a bachelor’s degree. The ticket to entry for these jobs is a high school degree and some type of postsecondary degree or trade credential, which students can earn while in high school or soon after graduating. And employers across the country are already struggling to fill positions for machinists, radiology technicians, and software developers—jobs that range from middle skill to high skill.
Part of the solution is investing in education pathways that prepare all students with the technical skills they need to pursue a meaningful career.
That is why, in January 2017, JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced $20 million in grants to 10 states to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for well-paying careers. Developed as part of our $75 million global New Skills for Youth initiative, each of these states will work with government, business, and education leaders to strengthen career education and create pathways to economic success for all students.
Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin will each receive $2 million over three years to expand and improve career pathways for all high school students.
These state grants are one part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO, Advance CTE, and Education Strategy Group, aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs. In recent years, more than 40 states have committed to transforming career education for all students. In March 2016, JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO awarded $100,000 grants to 24 states and the District of Columbia for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of area employers. These states received targeted coaching and support to begin implementing these programs over the past year.
The grants awarded in 2017 represent the second phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative. The 10 recipients were selected from the original 24 state grantees. These states will now leverage this additional funding to execute the career readiness plans they developed during phase one of the initiative.
Working closely with JPMorgan Chase and our collaborating partners, these 10 states will do the following:
- Establish employer-driven processes for determining high-skill, high-demand industries with which career pathways must be aligned.
- Use policy and funding levers to improve the quality and rigor of career pathways, including scaling down or phasing out those that do not lead to credentials of value.
- Prioritize career readiness in state accountability systems.
- Create a seamless integration of pathways for all students that blends rigorous academic with high-quality career and technical education.
- Make high-quality career-focused education available to all students in all secondary settings.
- Align state infrastructure—schools, technology centers, postsecondary education, business, and workforce and economic development authorities—to build effective career education systems.
Travelers EDGE (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment) is a career pipeline program that was created 10 years ago to increase access to education for underrepresented students and prepare them for careers in the financial services industry. Travelers wanted to create a program that would benefit the community and, at the same time, support the company’s need for more diverse talent. Through partnerships with high schools, colleges, universities, and community organizations, Travelers pairs students with professional mentors, offers internships that expose students to the insurance industry, and provides academic scholarships. Over the past 10 years, Travelers EDGE has expanded from Hartford, Connecticut, to St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland—cities where Travelers has a significant presence. In 2017 we plan to add a site in the Atlanta, Georgia, area as well.
Since 2007, 440 students have become Travelers EDGE scholars. More than 170 of the scholars have interned at Travelers, gaining experience in nearly every business and corporate area throughout the company. Of those students, 43 have gone on to accept offers of full-time employment at Travelers. By offering mentorship and hands-on work experiences, the company is providing students tools they need to pursue meaningful careers in the industry and at Travelers.
Giving Students an EDGE
In August 2010, Manny Jimenez was a Marine on foot patrol in Afghanistan when his life took an abrupt turn. He had served in the Marines for four years and had already been deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait when an improvised explosive device blew up, injuring him severely. Jimenez lost his arm at the shoulder and spent the next two years in and out of the hospital.
Now, Jimenez is a Travelers EDGE scholar working toward a college degree while gaining experience to prepare for a career in the financial services industry. He credits the program with helping him adapt to the ever-changing needs of the workforce.
Jimenez became a Travelers EDGE scholar when he enrolled at Capital Community College, a Travelers EDGE program partner in Connecticut. He interned part time for Travelers while earning his associate degree—first in auto product development and then in university relations. In January 2016, he transferred to Central Connecticut State University to pursue his bachelor’s degree in business management and continue as a Travelers EDGE scholar.
He has received guidance, both formally and informally, from mentors working in the insurance field, who have helped him learn about the industry and keep pace with trends. The experience has piqued his interest in underwriting and prepared him for his next steps.
“The support structure has been great,” Jimenez said. “My mentors take their time in answering my questions and make sure I can balance work and school. I feel I am in a good position to pursue a job after graduation.”
“Hard work pays off,” said Melissa Rodriguez, one of the program’s first scholars. “I always knew that I wanted to have a profession, be successful, and give back to the community.”
Rodriguez is one of seven children and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She’d watched her father and older brothers work long hours with a family-run grocery store.
It was 10 years ago when a guest speaker in her literature class discussed the possibilities of a new career program designed to prepare students for the business world. Inspired by this speech, she applied and was accepted to what is now Travelers EDGE.
Today, working toward her MBA and in a full-time position as a marketing consultant at Travelers, Rodriguez is able to share with university students her story about how her college internship turned into a career she loves.
“I still remember that moment when they said ‘yes’ to me,” says Rodriguez. “I felt like it was my golden ticket, like I’d won the lottery.”