Monday was an interesting day. I had a rare opportunity to represent my company at an event at the White house where I met with President Obama, Colin and Alma Powell, and 35 other business leaders. We were invited there to discuss the education crisis in the US--and talk about solutions.
At the White House, many of the businesses made pledges of financial support--including GSK. We committed $10 million dollars over the next five years toward education--which made me very proud.
One third of that money will be focused on preventing students from dropping out in the lowest performing schools. We will also dedicate two of our PULSE volunteers for drop-out prevention initiatives and STEM education (that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Additionally, we recently pledged $5 million to the City of Philadelphia to support youth development so they can achieve success in the workforce.
Thirty percent of all high school students do not graduate, and half of all minority students do not graduate. That is unacceptable. But our commitment is not just philanthropy; it is an investment in our future. As a high-tech company, we depend on a highly-educated workforce to remain globally competitive. In other words: we need these kids to graduate so we can hire them!
General and Mrs. Colin Powell are long-time supporters of education reform, as is GSK. For more than 25 years, GSK has invested in education. So we already have some success stories to share. The North Carolina New Schools Project is a great recent example. The STEM schools in the New Schools project, many of which were in economically depressed areas, now have half the drop-out rate of conventional schools in North Carolina. 46 of those schools have a zero drop-out rate. That is impressive!
To reform education, the private and public sectors--and individuals--need to work closely together. I am excited about GSK being part of the solution, and I look forward to getting involved personally.