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President Obama Meets with Corporate CEOs to Solicit Education Dollars
posted by: Alix | July 18, 2011, 09:22 PM   

Corporate donations to public education are common place in today's struggling financial climate. Last fall, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged an unprecedented $100 million to the ailing Newark, New Jersey's school system. Today, in an effort to spur additional private donations, President Obama held a roundtable discussion at the White House with like-minded CEOs to raise private funds for American K-12 education. Following today's closed door meeting, three companies including Bank of America, Microsoft, and Nike announced new pledges totaling $66 million toward education programs.

Among the ambitious initiatives, major financial institution Bank of America pledged $50 million for programs targeting low-income students. According to the bank, the funds will support programs that bridge the achievement gap to post-secondary education completion and connect the underserved and unemployed.

Microsoft Corporation, not to be confused with the also Gates' led Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged to invest $15 million in research and development in education technology, and a commitment to train over 150,000 educators and leaders over the next three years in these new teaching techniques.

Oregon-based Nike, the world's largest sportswear company, is also adding $3 million to an existing $7 million fund earmarked to aid schools in the company's home state.

The additional funding comes at a critical time according to one bank executive. "We are at a crossroads in the United States where the educational crisis has put the nation's growth and prosperity at risk and we are committed to being part of the solution," said Anne Finucane, global strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America.

In addition to the three corporate pledges, America's Promise Alliance Grad Nation Community Impact Fund announced its plan to raise $50 million to help combat high dropout rates. America's Promise was founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and is currently chaired by his wife, Alma J. Powell.

In keeping step with his goal of the U.S. having the world's highest percentage of adults with college degrees by 2020, President Obama remarked to the high-powered group that American economic growth is closely tied to improvements in education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan affirmed the statement saying, "We have to educate our way to a better economy."

Also on the list of corporate leaders in attendance were: Intel, Time Warner, America Online, United Way Worldwide, Accenture, ING, Fidelity Personal Investments, State Farm, AT&T, Raytheon, Target, and Discovery Communications. Future plans regarding education investments have not yet been released to the public.

What do you think about the corporate education meeting? Will the funding help struggling schools?
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