Corporate Citizenship Programs Seize the Chance to Give Back

These 10 corporate CSR progams are raising the bar in the industry

21 Century Fox
Courtesy of 21st Century Fox

These 10 corporate social responsibility programs set a high bar for the industry.

21st Century Fox
* Key support areas: Creativity and the arts, knowledge and exploration, sports and well-being, diversity, and sustainability.
* Dozens of programs at the division level from L.A. to Mumbai.

Previous-Year Highlights
* To honor the legacies of “Glee” and “American Idol,” 21st Century Fox awarded over $1 million in grants to struggling school music programs.
* “He Named Me Malala” global campaign included premiere for 7,000 girls in L.A., and $125k donation to educate Syrian refugee children.
* Formed National Geographic Partners, with 27% of proceeds returning to nonprofit Nat Geo Society for research, conservation and exploration.

Fox is committed to unlocking the potential of the audiences, partners, and communities it serves, says Shira Oberlander, executive director of social impact. “We’re particularly focused on supporting the next generation of artists, athletes and explorers, bold thinkers, and innovators.”

It is the founding partner of Ghetto Film School L.A., which enables students from underserved communities to learn the art and business of filmmaking. The company also provides students access to executives and talent for mentorship, creating a pipeline of new voices into the industry.

Other programs include Fox Sports University, Nat Geo’s Emerging Explorers, Star India’s Believe sports scholarships, and the
Fox|HBCU Media Alliance.

— Maria Cavassuto

Quoted: Alexandra Marinescu mentored Ghetto Film School students last semester, co-creating launch promos for Robert Kirkman’s “Outcast,” airing internationally on Fox. “I was blown away by the insights, passion and creativity they poured into their work,” Marinescu says.

CAA Foundation
* Partnered with Communities in Schools of Los Angeles (CISLA)
to improve students’ education.
* Multiple task forces raise funds for local nonprofits.
* Fosters development of diverse executives through panels and events.

Previous-Year Highlights
* CAA Task Forces raised over $4 million to support local charities.
* Launched Camp CAA for nearly 100 CISLA middle school students.

Led by Rachel Kropa and Natalie Tran, the CAA Foundation has spent the past 21 years working to forge partnerships, encourage volunteerism and stimulate public awareness.

“CAA operates under a guiding principle that if we all take good care of each other, good things will happen,” says Kropa, co-executive director. “We apply this principle holistically across the agency from diversity inclusion efforts to engaging our next generation of leaders to be active in their communities.”

The foundation has focused the bulk of its efforts on supporting education for young students.

“Education continues to be the universal experience that colleagues everywhere can relate to and we recognize that students represent our future and the most valuable investment that a company can make,” Kropa says.

— Lamarco McClendon

Quoted: Selena Juarez was a CISLA student and now, as a Cal State L.A. student, is in her third year as an intern at CISLA, which is housed in CAA’s office. “I have learned so much from everyone and grown professionally,” Juarez says. “[CISLA] is the reason why today I am not a statistic and am ready to show the world the potential I have to be successful.”

* Since 2001, 700,000-plus Comcast NBCUniversal employees and community partners have volunteered more than 4 million service hours through Comcast Cares Day.
* Served 4,100 local Boys & Girls Clubs across America.
* Over $1 billion of cash and in-kind donations benefited minorities over the past five years.

Previous-Year Highlights
* Incorporated support of two company partnerships, Global Citizen and Red Nose Day, into Comcast Cares Day.
* Ran the nation’s largest workplace mentoring program, Beyond School Walls, with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in 16 cities throughout the nation.
* Worked with the Millennial Trains Project to provide funding.

“Giving back to the community is embedded in Comcast NBCUniversal’s culture and embraced by our employees around the world,” says Dalila Wilson-Scott, senior VP of community investment for Comcast Corp. and president of the Comcast Foundation. “Using the reach of our technology and media platforms, and by partnering with world-class non-profit organizations, we are able to reach people in meaningful ways to help improve our communities.”

Comcast NBCUniversal focuses its philanthropic efforts on expanding digital literacy and promoting community service and building tomorrow’s leaders. One example is Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adaption program, which has connected more than 600,000 families—over 2.4 million low-income Americans—to the power of the Internet in their homes.

According to Wilson-Scott, more than 80% of Internet Essentials customers are people of color, and over 75% are women. “We recognize the enormous impact we can make,” Wilson-Scott says.

— Arya Roshanian
Quoted: Jamar Johnson, manager of HR Systems Quality Management at Comcast NBCUniversal, serves as a Big Brother through the company’s Beyond School Walls program. “Comcast has a strong commitment to its communities,” Johnson says. “I’ve found that commitment to be especially true through the company’s employee resource group.”

ICM Community Partners Foundation
* ICM Community Partners Foundation supports more than 200 charitable organizations annually through sponsorship, volunteerism, and mentorship.
* Employees at all levels volunteer with more than 20 organizations in New York City and L.A. annually
* The Foundation committee comprises 20 agents and assistants
* Supports arts nonprofits and social services for young people in New York and L.A.
Previous-Year Highlights
* Partnered with the American Red Cross to package and deliver more than 600 personal care kits to VA hospital patients
* Supported Writers Guild Foundation Veterans’ Writing Project
* Expanded educational programs for at-risk youth, including a summer internship program and career days in L.A. and N.Y..

“We wanted to present strong and serious help for young people within arts education here in Los Angeles and New York,” says Esther Newberg, partner and co-head of publications and chairman of the ICM Community Partners Foundation.

Established in 2013, the foundation draws volunteer support from the entire agency. It oversees the agency’s grants, as well as volunteerism for groups including Assistance League, American Red Cross, MPTF’s Wasserman Campus, and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

One recipient of a grant sponsorship through ICM Community Partners is DreamYard, a New York-based group that focuses on youth education support. It also helps to create access and opportunities for interested individuals who need assistance with achieving their life goals. DreamYard has a full-time staff of 26 people along with more than 75 part-time helpers.

— Nick Clement

Quoted: “Tim Lord and I started DreamYard in 1992 because it’s impossible not to recognize the fact that the playing field is not level for everyone in this country,” says co-founder and co-executive director Jason Duchin. “Watching a young person find their voice in all of its fullness — that’s why we do what we do.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment
* SPE’s Corporate Social Responsibility team supports more than 45 organizations.
* Bolsters arts education in Los Angeles.
* Partners on international initiatives.

Previous-Year Highlights
* Sony Music CSR initiative with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, includes campus visits and endorsements by talent.
* Global Picture This! initiative supported environmental activism.
* As part of Sony Corp.’s global volunteer day, SPE partnered to renovate a Culver City elementary school.

Some 20 years ago, the city of Los Angeles asked for help with funding for community arts centers. Sony created the Sony Pictures Media Arts program in response. It provides in-depth instruction in drawing, animation, and media arts for middle school students for five community arts centers around Los Angeles and provides after-school programs for 300 kids per year.

“Arts education is a big priority for Sony Pictures, because it is building the next generation of creative workers in the Los Angeles region, and maintaining the area as a vibrant hub of artistic talent,” says Janice Pober, senior vice president of global corporate social responsibility at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

As a part of SPE’s environmental campaign, the Picture This! organization creates locally produced commercials and featurettes. It spans 175 countries and 30 languages, and its videos have been seen by 45 million unique viewers since its 2015 launch.

— Nick Clement

Quoted: World Wildlife Fund Romania worked with Picture This! to focus on reforestation. “In short, our goal is to create a world where people live in harmony with nature,” says WWF Romania program director Magor Csibi.

UTA Foundation
* UTA Foundation was formed more than 10 years ago.
* Guides employees in effective and rewarding philanthropic activity, to provide strategic guidance to clients in their own charitable efforts.
* Over 50 initiatives agency-wide

Previous-Year Highlights
* More than 700 employees participated globally in Project Impact.
* Over 200 people volunteered with Angel Food Project and New York Common Pantry.
* UTA/LAUSD University High mentoring partnership worked with 15-20 mentees.

UTA Foundation has partnered with Angel Food Project, New York Common Pantry and LAUSD. It works with global partner organizations such as Glasswing Intl. and OneKid OneWorld to renovate schools in Central America. Project Impact helps the community in six cities, including Toronto and London.

“Whether it’s rolling up their sleeves and volunteering or participating in an employee giving program or supporting a colleague’s cause, people are really committed. It’s an exciting challenge to keep everyone highly focused, and we’ve been able to increase our impact year over year,” says Rene Jones, executive director, UTA Foundation.

— Maria Cavassuto

Quoted: “Recently, my mentee Sabrina reached out for help to decide which summer internship she should participate in (film2future, The Intern Project and Idyllwild Arts),” says Rachel Arlook, UTA agent. “I was able to share feedback from my own personal experiences to help guide her. She ended up picking all three programs.”

* More than 50 initiatives across company brands
* Partnered with Joyful Heart Foundation to target domestic violence and sexual assault.
* Paramount Pictures supports students through employee mentorship.
* Each of Viacom’s networks runs its own CSR initiatives.

Previous-Year Highlights
* “Viacom Says No More” PSAs targeting domestic abuse and sexual assault reached more than 400 million people.
* Partnered with Get Schooled to improve students’ access to financial aid.

“We like to get out there and talk about issues that people might not be talking about and put a spotlight on the issues that are important to our audiences,” said Ali Tuck, VP of Viacom’s CSR program.

Viacom partnered with human-rights video nonprofit Witness to launch Witness the Power of Story in November 2015. It tackled eight issues through video PSAs, including gender bias, veterans’ health and wellness, LGBT equality, and rural education.

“Video can create change and a single story can be something that gets people talking,” Tuck says.

Viacom’s efforts also include VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, which works to restore instrumental music education in America’s public schools, and MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, which promotes HIV prevention.

— Lamarco McClendon

Quoted: Vanache Nnadi participated in a Witness PSA and is now an ambassador for BET’s What’s at Stake initiative. “I feel I’ve grown a lot mentally and emotionally when it comes to discussing these issues,” Nnadi says.

Warner Bros. Entertainment
* 10 main programs directly sponsored by Warner Bros. Entertainment.
* Emphasis in youth enrichment and global outreach, with programs throughout every major continent
* Provides cash contributions to various charities, including Habitat for Humanity and A Place Called Home.

Previous-Year Highlights
* 19 of Warner Bros. professional departments in L.A. County hosted youth interns in 2016.
* Peer mentoring has been integrated into these internships to better assist novice participants.
* Alums of Warner’s youth enrichment programs have gone to work for major entities, including the DGA and Warner Bros. Animation.

“These programs allow us to be a community citizen,” says Barry Ziehl, Warner Bros. senior VP of public affairs & strategic initiatives.
Warner Bros. Entertainment has launched a number of philanthropic programs specifically aimed at community outreach and youth enrichment. One such initiative, the Reach Honorship Program, is a four-year internship-scholarship program to high school seniors who are passionate about the entertainment business.

“These youth outreach programs are more than just a ‘one-and-done’ deal,” Ziehl says. “We’re investing in [Warner Bros.] and the future of the entertainment industry.”

In addition, Warner Bros. has a long-standing commitment to sustainability and green business practices, with a goal to “further integrate sustainability into all aspects of business for greater operational efficiency, cost savings and a healthier environment for [their] employees and the environment.”

— Arya Roshanian

Quoted: Aisha Hauser is a third-year participant of the Reach Honorship Program, who credits her budding success in the entertainment industry to Warner Bros. Entertainment. “In regards to my profession, the Reach program has completely shaped my goals in school and the workplace,” Hauser says.

Walt Disney Co.
* VoluntEARs supports hundreds of nonprofits.
* Disney Conservation Fund grant total $40 million since 1995
* Environmental initiatives cut Disney’s net emissions by 34% in 2015.

Previous-Year Highlights
* VoluntEARs helped with 45 adoptions last year.
* Disney Conservation Fund supported stressed habitats and threatened species worldwide * $333.3 million in cash giving, product contributions and public service announcements to nonprofits.

Christine McCarthy, Disney senior executive vice president and CFO, says: “Our approach to citizenship goes beyond charitable giving and involves empowering our employees to use their specialized skills to improve the lives of others through a number of initiatives, from teaching coding essentials to providing legal aid to help create families for kids who need them.”

Disney’s legal pro bono team aids in immigration proceedings. The team has also helped with more than 135 adoptions in the Burbank-Glendale area alone. More than 260 employees throughout Southern California, New York and Florida are part of the program.

On Star Wars Day in 2016, Disney also matched the donations of Star Wars fans up to $1 million and benefited Unicef, American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Make-a-Wish.

— Karen Idelson

Quoted:Karen Frederiksen, associate general counsel and pro bono chair for Disney, has donated hours and expertise through the program. “It is a humbling and extraordinary privilege for those of us who work within Disney’s legal community to have an opportunity to represent individuals who would otherwise lack legal representation, especially when children are involved,” Frederiksen says.

* WME Foundation partners with public schools to mentor students.
* Placed over 5,000 employees as volunteers with more than 200 nonprofits.

Previous-Year Highlights
* Partnered with Lacma to bring free arts education to summer camps.
* Clients, including Giada De Laurentiis and LeVar Burton, participated in the agency’s mentoring activities.

The WME Foundation partnered with three public schools in Compton, one in Brooklyn, one in Nashville, and one in London to mentor and provide resources to students in need. Through the mentor program, agents are paired with students and then meet with them throughout the school year to help with homework and give guidance.

WME began these programs when the agency became aware that funding was cut for arts education at many public schools. The agency also funds sleep-away and summer camps where its employees guide kids in activities designed to expand their education.

“We partnered with these schools with the hope of making a difference,” says Christian Muirhead, chief communications officer, who oversees the company’s corporate responsibility agenda. “Five years in we are incredibly proud of the results, but at the end of the day our success is a reflection of having great partners in the administration, teachers and students.”

— Karen Idelson

Quoted: “I see myself in them,” says D.C. Wade, a WME talent agent who works with needy youths at the summer camps. “And I think it’s good to show them that there are other options for them, other types of jobs and things they can aspire to become.”