SAN JOSE, Calif.--It is a constant source of irritation and
embarrassment to some that the region consistently ranked among the top
25 wealthiest in the country has a fattening slice of its populace
that is struggling.
One of every 10 Santa Clara and San Mateo County residents relies on the Second
Harvest Food Bank for meals today. This is a region home to Intel,
Google, Apple, Oracle and Facebook among countless other great technology
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In addition, "There are gaps in education and there are gaps in
health," says Kevin Lyman, vice president of human resources at
Altera Corp., headquartered here.
Unfortunately, these gaps aren't new, and it's prompting calls for
the wealthiest (the way less than 1 percent) to pony up, and
many are, including Intel co-founder and big-time
philanthropist Gordon Moore.
Companies too, while not in the business of philanthropy, seem to
feel a quiet alarm that the next generation of employees isn't going
to be prepared.
Today (Oct. 11), Altera's year-old Altera Foundation will give out
its first grant as part of a larger--and, Lyman says more
strategic--effort to nurture the next generation of innovation. The
foundation is granting $500,000 to the nearby Hughes Elementary
School to seed a facility that will have whiteboard-type devices in
the classrooms and tablets in the hands of the 500 students in the
next three years. The grant also will help in teacher training with
the new media, and the Altera Foundation has a seat on the advisory
Not all companies are great community partners.
"Many companies are highly committed to their communities and others
do less than they might," Lyman said.
Altera has always given to the community as a corporation, although
as a four-decade-old company just last year seem to finally get
serious about it. Why so late? Lyman said: "Unless you're a really
big company, you have limited means, and there are many many good
causes out there in community. What we've said for ourselves … given
our size is to provide focus so we can make the biggest difference
in a concentrated."
Educate, then innovate That resulted in creating the foundation in 2011 to pursue the
notion of nurturing the next generation of innovation. And the
target for that nurturing is education.
"We think there's a link between innovation and education...if we
can teach kids the skills of inquiry and exploration and questions
and creation and assessment, particularly in the STEM related
areas," Lyman said in an interview.
Clearly in 2012 amid the worst economic downturn since the
Depression, government is struggling to meet community needs,
parents can buy only so many bake-sale cupcakes and car washes.
Companies, sitting on piles of cash in these cautious times are
starting to pony up....just in time.
Dunno, I have mixed feelings about this sort of effort. It seems like a lot of window dressing, with PR motivation mostly. The companies move jobs offshore, and then they try to appease the local politicians with this show of benevolence.
If there are exciting jobs in fields we are interested in, then force-feeding "innovation studies" to kids isn't going to be necessary. The politicians should see to it that their tax policies not encourage companies to offshore design and manufacturing, and then no one would be throwing good money out after bad.