I’ve been bogged down the last few weeks finalizing our newest CSR report (look for it on our CSR web site on May 21st). I was happy to take a break one night last week to attend a scholarship award ceremony for the Chandler Education Foundation. Intel was one of a number of organizations and individuals in the community sponsoring scholarships for local high school students.Over the past few months, I’ve spent so much time reviewing numbers for this report – from the gallons of water we use, to the number of hours volunteered by our employees, to the number of teachers trained in our education programs. Companies are increasingly expected to quantify their CSR efforts in their public reporting. It’s easier to do this in some areas of corporate responsibility than in others to be sure. However, my evening with the students in Chandler reminded me that the numbers, while important, can only tell part of the story. So it was a beautiful spring Arizona evening – students, parents, teachers, school administrators and scholarship donors all sat in rows on the outdoor patio to listen to the accomplishments of some very impressive young men and women. Many had grade point averages over 4.0 and had received impressive academic awards. Many had taken on leadership roles in different student organizations or gave back to their communities through volunteering and service projects. Some had managed to excel in their academics despite significant hardships and challenges – like losing a parent, coping with a disease, or needing to hold down two jobs to help with their family’s financial situation or because they knew they would have to pay their own way through college. Intel sponsored three scholarships at the event – one for a senior in each of the three high schools – to support them in pursuing degrees in engineering or computer science. We also surprised each with a laptop computer to take with them to college next year. When I got up on the stage to announce the Intel scholarship recipients, the students didn’t yet know that they had been selected – so were very surprised and excited when their names were announced. When one of the young women came up on stage – she was so surprised and overcome that it caught me a bit off-guard – and it was hard not to get a little emotional myself. But it was what she said to me as we walked off the stage together that really got me. This young woman who said she loves science and math, who wants to study to become an engineer, who worked two jobs at one point in addition to all of her extracurricular activities and still managed to pull off a 4.0 GPA, just looked straight at me and shaking her head still in disbelief that she had been selected, simply said, “I’ve just worked so hard….” To me, this is the real motivation for our programs and scholarships – these impressive students who work so hard and are so passionate about learning. These students who we can hopefully help make it just a little easier for them to reach their goals. It’s these individual students with inspiring and humbling stories – the students behind these numbers – that serve as important reminders of the real impact that our education programs and investments can have.
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