'How do you say 'couch' in Spanish?'
'Now it's time for the big reveal. I can't wait to hear what they say about this extreme room makeover.'
'Eeew. I can't tell if that's jello or... something else.'
These are just some of the sounds of volunteering. Or, I should say, of a team of enthusiastic Coneheads volunteering at our local Head Start. Yes, the very same Head Start that has been supported by our client, PNC Financial Services Group, as part of PNC Grow Up Great, a celebrated 10-year, $100 million investment in preparing young children for school and for life.
Grow Up Great, a benchmark public/private partnership, leverages PNC’s corporate and philanthropic assets to advocate for a poorly understood but critical economic issue: school readiness. Studies show a $7 - $16 return on every $1 invested in early education, with savings felt in welfare, special education, and the criminal justice system. Recognizing that learning in a child's early years is essential for long-term success, PNC provides leadership, advocacy, funding, tools, and volunteers to help educate parents, caregivers, and communities on preparing children to enter school ready to learn.
PNC celebrates this commitment by rallying its employees around the cause. The company provides employees 40 hours annually of paid time-off to volunteer. And volunteer they do: 22% of PNC employees have rolled up their sleeves, starting with CEO Jim Rohr. Together, they have given more than 42,000 hours to Head Start, one of PNC's partners in the cause. PNC recognizes this effort with 'grants for great hours,' generous contributions to the early childhood center where individual employees and volunteer teams log their hours.
And PNC's excitement about the issue is particularly contagious around PNC Grow Up Great Week, a week-long series of events focused on early learning. If you live within PNC’s growing eight-state footprint, you may have noticed the focus on this cause through radio spots, full-page newspaper ads, special appearances from PNC’s Mobile Learning Adventure, and even a video on the jumbo-tron in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. Maybe you took advantage of the special savings promotion: if you helped kids learn about bank deposits, interest, making plans, and setting savings goals by opening a PNC Statement Savings account for a child during Great Week, you’ll receive a $25 reward when the balance reaches $100 or more.
And perhaps most importantly, if your child happens to attend one of the roughly 4,000 Head Start centers within arm’s reach of PNC, you might have noticed some of the benefits of the extra attention PNC volunteers lavished on your little one. (A special hello to the family of a girl I’ll call Nicole, who worked very hard with me to learn how to write the letter “e.” She did great!)
If you’re interested in learning more about how companies can help spark individual and community development through innovative cause programs, mark your calendars: next week, PNC's Eva Blum is speaking at the US Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) conference on corporate community investment. She's got some pretty interesting things to say about how to develop and run effective cause programs, and as one of the driving forces behind Grow Up Great, she should know.
If you can’t join us for the conference, or if you just want a preview, check out her guest blog on the US Chamber of Commerce website. Better yet, drop by one of PNC’s more than 1,100 branches to pick up a free Sesame Street 'Happy, Healthy Ready for School' kit and find out more for yourself. Together, we can ensure that every child grows up great!
--Talya Bosch, Former Account Director