Wednesday, December 7, 2011

11 Tech Companies Investing in Education

When we think about big corporations, even cool techie ones, we're often quick to point out all the things they do wrong, from sketchy environmental records to snarky CEOs. Yet many corporations spend a great deal of time and money giving back to the community; it's not always just for the good PR. In many cases, these companies are actually pretty passionate about their causes and many may actually be the driving force behind changing hundreds of young lives for the better.

At this time of year, when charitable giving is on many people's minds, it can be useful to take a look at the ways that some of the biggest tech companies in the U.S. and the world are giving back and investing in education. Many have programs and initiatives you've never heard about and spend millions of dollars each year helping to expand the minds and the opportunities available to the next generation of potential tech-whizzes, scientists, and writers. Read through this list to see how some of the best-known (and some lesser-known) tech companies are helping kids learn, get access to technology, and even prepare for college.

  1. Google

    There likely aren't too many students out there who haven't used Google's tools to complete an assignment or do research, but the company goes beyond its academic search engine and online document editing to help kids learn. They support a number of educational programs, including a worldwide science fair that encourages students to innovate and engineer things well beyond the norm for their grade levels and programming competitions that offer high school and college students the chance to participate in real world development. The company is largely focused on improving access to computer, engineering, and science education and they have come up with a number of programs that work to that end. A few include their Computing & Programming Experience, CS4HS, BOLD Internship program, Computer Science Summer Institute program, Google FUSE retreat, LEAD Program for computer science, and the Google Teacher Academy. If that weren't enough, the search engine giant also offers scholarships to college students and free computer science and technology curricula for educators.

  2. Hewlett-Packard

    Computer and IT giant HP gives back to the community through a variety of educational initiatives. Perhaps one of their biggest endeavors is the HP Catalyst Initiative. The program is focused on bringing educators, businesses, and scientists together to develop more effective approaches to STEM education. Ultimately, HP hopes to create innovations and opportunities that allow students to use their creativity to come up with solutions to social issues in their communities. HP is also helping to foster educational technology through funding the HP EdTech Innovators Award. The award recognizes teachers who are going above and beyond in the ways they use technology in the classroom, with winners getting a $40,000 grant to continue their work. In addition to these great programs, the company also sponsors a worldwide summit on educational innovation, a competition that challenges students to develop business plans that are both profitable and environmentally friendly, and a training program for entrepreneurs.

  3. Intel

    Intel isn't messing around when it comes to helping to sponsor education. The company works in over 70 countries to monitor 200 different programs aimed at educational reform, professional development, and increasing access to educational technology. To date, the company has donated over $1 billion to the program and countless hours of employee volunteer time. In addition to their large educational reform program, Intel also invests in education through a series of competitions, including those that challenge students to test their skills in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Intel has also been a major donor of technology to classrooms around the world through its Intel World Ahead Program, has developed educational software for PCs called, and worked to build a text-to-speech reader for students with disabilities as well. If that weren't enough, they also sponsor Intel Learn Program to teach kids about technology and build 21st Century skills as well as a similar program for teachers called Intel Teach that helps educators learn to better bring technology into the classroom.

  4. Microsoft

    Most of us are familiar with Bill Gates' philanthropic efforts, but you may not know as much about the charitable giving of the company that helped him to make that fortune. Microsoft is no slouch when it comes to supporting education, and has developed a number of programs, competitions, and educational initiatives to help students and teachers alike. In addition to providing schools and other educational facilities with free or low-cost software and computers, the company also boasts programs that go from elementary school to college and beyond. Their DigiGirlz program helps to give high school girls a chance to learn about, use, and explore careers in technology, which Imagine Cup challenges kids to develop new innovations that might change the world. Older students can take advantage of mentoring and internship programs, as well as low-cost training to improve employment opportunities. And they don't ignore teachers either, with the Microsoft Partners in Learning program to help educators learn to use new technology and the support of other teachers to push students to reach their potential.

  5. Motorola

    The Motorola Foundation supports education through a variety of programs based in the U.S. and around the world. One of their biggest pushes around the world is to get more women interested in careers in technology, science, math, and engineering. To this end, they sponsor several global engineering marathons for women that ask women and girls to solve engineering problems, program applications, and introduce them to other women in technology-related careers. The company also sponsors Innovation Generation grants, which fund young students in their science related endeavors. This can range from developing computer programs to working on a paleontological dig, and the company often provides support from company volunteers to help students in their research and education. The company is also helping to fund STEM education in a fun way through the FIRST Robotics Competition. Motorola sponsors a team for the competition and provides young robotics enthusiasts with mentors and experts from its own technology labs for support.

  6. National Semiconductor

    You may not have heard of this technology company if you're not a tech-geek, but the Santa Clara-based company is ahead of the game when it comes to funding educational initiatives. Among its many community focused projects are programs to provide teachers with additional professional development and funding for free materials for hands-on science and math experiments. Since 2008, the company has been funding the National's Power of Education Initiative, which gives $1 million in grants to local education and non-profit organizations working in K-12 classrooms. National Semiconductor manufactures and sells analog circuits and other electronic components and they want to ensure that students across America have a chance to learn about these parts and the electrical engineering that goes into them. To help in that goal, they sponsor, quite generously, academic programs to that end and help to fund research and test centers as well.

  7. Texas Instruments

    It should come as no surprise that a company perhaps best known for its calculators (though they design a much wider range of semiconductors and computer technologies) would invest so much in education. Over the past five years, TI has donated over $150 million to educational programs, though much of that investment goes to higher education and research programs at academic institutions. Some of the ways this funding was used include supporting and advocating AP courses in the Dallas area, working in Change the Equation, a national consortium of CEOs working to improve access to STEM education, the Pursue Engineering program, Robotics competitions, TI-Math Forward which helps students gain math skills, the Visoneering event at SMU, and GEAR UP, a program to encourage and support low-income students so that they can attend college. Texas Instruments also funds a variety of teaching programs, including Teach for America, UTeach, and Laying the Foundation as well as a host of programs that aim to bring more minorities and women into STEM fields.

  8. iRobot

    Ever heard of the Roomba? That's one of the helpful robots designed by this forward-thinking tech company. In 2010, the company won an Education Innovation Award for its 20 in 20 program, an initiative that brought robots to 20 different schools across the state of Massachusetts with the goal of getting students interested in careers in robotics and other technologies. The program is part of the company's larger educational initiative called SPARK, or Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge. Through their website, teachers can access educational resources, find out about robotics events, learn about professionals in the field, and even find out how to bring iRobot to their schools or take students on a trip to the company's facilities.

  9. Verizon

    Cell phone giant Verizon has gone above and beyond in their donations to education, even winning the Award for Philanthropy in Public Education from the NEA in 2009. While the award recognized the company's long-term commitment to education and literacy, at the core of the award was the company's Thinkfinity website, a project that has gained the company worldwide recognition. Thinkfinity is an amazing portal for educators, providing free ideas for lessons, professional development, helpful videos, educational tools, and even a social network for teachers. In addition, the Verizon Foundation has also donated millions of dollars to creating community, national, and online literacy programs that help young people and adults learn to improve their reading, job, and technology skills.

  10. IBM

    IBM's computers have long been a staple of many classrooms across the United States, but many may not realize the impact the company has truly had on education through the development of software, educational programs, and large donations. One of the coolest applications of IBM's education funding has been the Learning Village software, which allows teachers to better use technology in their lessons, tailoring and monitoring it much more effectively. Perhaps its biggest investment in education, however, has been its huge Reinvent Education campaign launched in 1994, which has contributed nearly $100 million to educational causes. Part of this reinvention has been programs that help support teachers, including the Academic Initiative, which helps to train teachers and professors on technological skills they need to stay current, and its award-winning Transition to Teaching program.

  11. Raytheon

    Raytheon, a high-tech weapons manufacturer based out of Massachusetts, may make products that do harm, but they're trying to give something back as well. The company has large corporate stewardship projects that largely focus on education. The company is a huge advocate of improving access to STEM education tools, and has been actively involved in developing new policies and models for teaching these core subjects in schools. They've also put some serious funds into their goals, donating tens of millions through grants, equipment, and educational programs. In 2005, the company launched MathMovesU, an initiative aimed at making math and science more interesting. They also provide scholarships and grants to students at Tuskegee University, sponsor teams for the FIRST Robotics Competition and MathCounts, and have helped countless schools throughout the New England area purchase new computers.

Taken From Online College

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