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Volunteer units get greenlight

Studios extend hand with local, cultural, kids programs

From health to literacy and the arts to the environment, studios reach everywhere in philanthropy.

At Disney in 2002, for instance, the company gave more than $140 million in cash, in-kind support, product donations and PSAs for global, national and local initiatives.

At Warner Bros., the outreach is more local, with employees volunteering for a range of charities from Free Arts for Abused Children to Heal the Bay to Meeting Each Need With Dignity and Tree People.

Over at Sony, a partnership program with the city of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Dept. and CalArts teaches students between 11-14 the fundamentals about animation, art and technique.

Lisa Rawlins, senior veep for studios and production affairs at Warners, says it’s about supporting others in the community. “We don’t want to just write a check to somebody, we want to get our employees involved.”

Many of the programs have been created by the company, such as a children’s clinic at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center that offers pediatric forensic examinations for kids who are suspected victims of sexual abuse. Another children’s clinic in Burbank helps low-income children including dental services.

Rawlins, whose job it is to integrate Warners wide range of philanthropic activities, says the company is investing in programs it has created and trying to build depth. “The volunteer corps is very responsive,” she adds. Sometimes they bring big projects and ask for the company’s involvement.

Programs helping kids are a natural extension of the Mouse House and its philanthropic arm, DisneyHand. “Disney reaches out to children and families in many ways, including working with wish-granting organizations to ensure that the Disney wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses come true, providing books and resources to encourage families to read together, honoring creative teachers and supporting an extensive corps of Disney VoluntEARS making a difference around the world,” says Jody Dreyer, senior vice president, Disney Worldwide Outreach.

DreamWorks, too, has a similar program with Workplace Hollywood, which offers training for showbiz jobs and internships partnering with the Los Angeles Community College District, Cleveland High School and various orgs.

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