Washington, D.C., July 30, 2008—The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), in partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), has released a new report on education philanthropy entitled, “Corporate Investments in College Readiness and Access.” The report, prepared by IHEP and produced with financial support from USA Funds, examines major corporations’ philanthropic support for “college readiness and access initiatives,” defined as efforts to increase the likelihood that students will graduate from high school fully prepared to enroll and succeed in college. The report supplements substantial research that highlights the importance of higher education to ensuring a U.S. workforce prepared to compete in a global economy.
Research for the report was conducted through interviews with select corporate leaders and others involved in corporate-sponsored college readiness and access initiatives and through analysis of the education philanthropy of Fortune 100 companies. It demonstrates that as major corporations focus on their workforce needs, they are recognizing the imperative to increase readiness and access to postsecondary education, and are devising strategies to address that need.
Major findings of the report include:
- Education is a key philanthropic priority for corporations: 90 percent of Fortune 100 companies support education as a philanthropic goal.
- More than two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies support college readiness and access programs, although the substance and depth of that support varies widely among corporations.
- Most of the Fortune 100 corporations that support college readiness and access programs support existing programs rather than developing their own customized efforts, and most support programs located in the geographic areas where their employees and customers live and work, rather than supporting programs nationally.
- Ultimately, to be effective, corporate investments in college readiness and access must address three key barriers: 1) the lack of knowledge about college admissions and financial aid (“college knowledge”); 2) inadequate financial resources; and 3) insufficient academic preparation.
- Key strategies employed by corporations to increase readiness and access include: investing in readiness and access to meet current and future workforce needs; using data-driven decision making to achieve a clear understanding of educational challenges and to identify potential solutions; building partnerships with other organizations that focus on these issues; convening other stakeholders to ensure sustainability of efforts once undertaken.
“The report addresses a crucial gap in our understanding of corporate philanthropy in education,” says Dr. Brian K. Fitzgerald, BHEF’s Executive Director. “It is heartening to confirm that more than two-thirds of Fortune 100 corporations are seeking to increase college readiness and access. It is disappointing to realize that nearly one-third of these companies apparently are not focusing on these issues, despite their clear significance for our nation’s workforce.”
Notes Dr. Wendy Erisman, the report’s lead author, “This research reveals a lack of readily available information about corporate philanthropy in the areas of college readiness and access. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that companies sometimes do not highlight their investments in the most effective ways. Clearly, more research is needed to build on this initial study.”
“USA Funds is pleased to support this research, which sheds more light on this important topic,” said Carl C. Dalstrom, USA Funds president and CEO. We hope that more corporations will focus their philanthropy on preparation for and access to college and will learn from the practices described in this report as they do so.”