Dudek, Booz Allen, Charles Schwab, Sempra and SDG&E have programs that empower students – The San Diego Union-Tribune | Team Cansler

Remuneration, development potential and work-life balance are important to employees. But many workers also care about whether the companies they work for contribute to and help society.

Several companies with a local presence are donating money and time to improve the education of girls and underserved children, particularly in STEM or science, technology, engineering and math focused areas.

Many employees notice and like this. According to a study by America’s Charities, a nonprofit that inspires employees and organizations to support one another, more than 70 percent of employees surveyed say it is mandatory or very important to work there , where the culture supports donations and volunteerism.

COVID PIVOT

Several companies have changed their approach to education-related donations in response to COVID-19.

Up until last year, Dudek, an environmental and engineering consulting firm based in Encinitas, resold much of its old IT equipment to third parties and invested that money in new equipment. It worked with an e-waste company that safely disposed of devices with no residual value.

Then COVID-19 hit, forcing many schools to switch to distance learning. Dudek realized it might help.

Dudek cited some estimates showing that about a third of San Diego County families don’t have a computer at home, and about a third of them don’t have the ability to access one. So instead of just donating technology with no monetary value, Dudek donated all of his computer equipment no longer used by employees to Computers2Kids.

“This partnership is truly a win-win for everyone involved,” said Brian Nordmann, CIO at Dudek. “Dudek is eliminating e-waste from landfills and reducing its environmental impact while supporting C2K’s mission to bring technology access to all San Diego residents.”

Here’s another example. Booz Allen Hamilton — a consulting firm with expertise in analytics, digital, engineering, and cyber — has been a partner of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego for nine years, during which time it has contributed more than $500,000. The program teaches STEM principles to students in grades two through eight. Kids learn concepts like fractions, thermal energy, weather, electricity and magnetism, then see how those principles are applied aboard the Midway.

Due to COVID, Booz shifted its support for in-person field trips to expand online educational resources. As a result, schools in 26 states are now using Midway’s distance learning resources.

EFFECTS ON EMPLOYEES

Booz Allen, like other companies, doesn’t just cut checks for educational purposes. Companies also offer their employee know-how.

Volunteering is part of the culture at Booz Allen, said Jennie Brooks, senior vice president at Booz Allen and director of the company’s San Diego office. Its employees regularly volunteer to teach, mentor and inspire the next generation of STEM talent.

Large-scale corporate sponsorships, company-wide fundraisers, or foundation grants often give employees the opportunity to nominate charitable organizations. Also in December, Booz Allen adjusted the employees’ waiver of a certain cap.

Sempra offers something similar. The Sempra family of companies, including San Diego Gas & Electric, has an employee giving program that offers appropriate gifts and voluntary incentives such as $20 per volunteer hour to support organizations that matter most to their employees, including donations to local schools and educational groups. The Sempra Foundation provided more than $1 million in educational donations in 2021 and the first half of 2022.

“There is a direct correlation between workplace giving and increased recruitment and retention, higher employee satisfaction, a more conscious culture, better brand awareness and reputation, increased revenue and more,” according to a recent America’s Charities report.

HELP FOR THE UNDERSERVED

Booz Allen added that there is a high demand for workers with STEM skills, but women and many minorities remain underrepresented in these industries.

That’s why Booz Allen sponsors an annual cybersecurity workshop for Girl Scouts in San Diego. Booz Allen volunteers are also helping the girls earn three cyber-related patches.

San Diego Gas & Electric has a program called Be That Girl to encourage girls from kindergarten through 12th grade to pursue careers in STEM. The company offers its female employees as role models in fields such as engineering, finance and computer science schools. These women professionals share their personal journeys from elementary school to STEM careers and how STEM skills can impact a young woman’s future. This program is led by Caroline Winn, CEO of SDG&E, who joined the company in 1986 as an Associate Engineer.

Charles Schwab’s Moneywise America is a financial literacy curriculum that trains volunteer workers to improve the business environment for teens, particularly those in underfunded schools and areas.

“Access to financial literacy is unequal in our country,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation and executive director of the Charles Schwab Corporation, which employs 780 people in San Diego County.

She added, “The ability to make sound money decisions should not be viewed as a nice or optional life skill. Everyone needs it. When people are financially literate, they are more likely to attend college, have higher credit scores, and do better at work. They are also better prepared to handle financial shocks that can derail their goals.

Hang Nguyen is a freelance writer for UT.

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