As outlined in a recent study, the Center for Universal Education at Brookings surveyed nearly 150 American companies, conducted in-depth interviews with corporate philanthropy leaders, and analyzed the existing literature and reports on corporate social responsibility to assess the magnitude, focus and motivations of U.S. corporate philanthropy vis-à-vis education in developing countries.
The study shows that U.S. companies are estimated to give about half a billion dollars through philanthropic contributions to education in developing countries each year. Of the contributions recorded in our surveys, 70 percent are in-cash contributions and 30 percent are in-kind products and services. The energy and technology companies lead in giving to education: energy companies average $14 million per year while the technology sector averages $10 million in annual contributions. The consumer sector averages $4.5 million per year. We tracked education contributions to over 114 countries, finding that the most frequent recipients include India, China, Brazil and Mexico. About a third of the companies giving to education geared their efforts toward South Africa and Kenya. While many companies focus their education programs on science, technology, engineering, math, entrepreneurship and workforce skills, many companies also focus on primary education, through programs focused on access, teacher training, child literacy, infrastructure or increased inclusion of girls.
We found that U.S. companies have the potential to be major players in reshaping the education landscape in developing countries through their innovative grantmaking, global networks, links to economic opportunities, and employee expertise. But the short grant cycles and overall lack of coordination with larger entities capable of scaling often minimize the impact of corporate efforts.
Notably, the Brookings study indentifies 10 opportunities to achieve greater impact of corporate philanthropy on education in developing countries.
U.S.-based corporations have enormous potential to better use their unique assets and minimize their liabilities in philanthropy directed toward global education. If corporations integrate their global education philanthropy strategically into their business models by engaging employees, communities, consumers, supply chains, other donors, and developing country governments, both the impact on society and corporations will be significantly greater.
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