Corporate involvement in community initiatives often go unnoticed, yet its presence in such endeavors is essential for success. Through their donations of time, money and resources, companies and employees who give back to their communities become the life blood of nonprofits.
The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts knows the true value of those donations. Their value isn’t measured in dollars, but in the smiles and successes of the children it helps.
Run by a partnership with the National Park Service, the nonprofit foundation serves the entertainment and educational needs of the D.C. metro area and beyond in a myriad of ways. The foundation’s educational programs use the performing arts to teach children basic skills and encourage self-esteem in the learning process.
Last year, the Department of Education awarded Wolf Trap a four-year, $1.15 million grant to research and develop a science, technology, engineering and mathematics education program.
The latest Program for International Student Assessment report showed American students ranked 21st in science literacy and 25th in math literacy out of 30 developed countries.
STEM programs are designed to strengthen math and science literacy. Research has found STEM education is most effective when started at a young age as children’s interests and abilities form. Wolf Trap’s program integrates the arts into STEM education.
“Wolf Trap is committed to contributing solid research, teaching strategies and resources to the fields of STEM, the arts and early education,” said Mimi Flaherty Willis, Wolf Trap’s senior director of education. “For over three decades, the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts has demonstrated the ability to address school readiness issues by engaging children in highly interactive, engaging learning experiences that advance children’s knowledge and skills.”
The government contracting community has taken a particular interest in Wolf Trap’s STEM program. The area is rich with technical and scientific firms reliant on employees with advanced education in STEM areas. Their desire to participate in community service, and support arts and educational programs as well as advance initiatives that are in line with their mission find a perfect marriage in Wolf Trap.
Amr ElSawy, president and CEO of Noblis, serves his community by protecting its security. His position on the board furthers his dedication to the advancement of his community.
“Filling the projected demand for professionals in science, technology, engineering and math requires a long-term view and investment,” ElSawy said. “Involving kids in STEM programs at an early age is an important component of our national strategy. I know that the Wolf Trap Institute model works, and I know they will have an impact on this critical national priority for STEM education.”
ElSawy is not alone. Other members of Wolf Trap’s board of directors and active members of the government contracting industry hold the same opinion.
Linda Mills, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman’s Information Systems sector, is a driving force for her company and an advocate of the STEM program. She donates her time as a board member to advance the program and give back to her community. Northrop Grumman Foundation recently awarded Wolf Trap a grant to send teaching artists across the country to work with children, teachers and parents in week-long residencies.
Gil Guarino, executive vice president of the Transformation Solutions Business group for CACI, is dedicated to serving his country through military service and his work in the public sector. The importance he places on community is reflected in the time he spends as a Wolf Trap board member.
Donna Morea, president of CGI’s U.S., Europe and Asia divisions, serves her community well. Along with her position on Wolf Trap’s board, Morea gives back to her community serving as chair of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, secretary of the board for the George Mason University Foundation, Inc. board of trustees and trustee with the Committee for Economic Development. She also serves on the board of directors for Crossway Community and Wesleyan University.
Charles Prow, general manager for IBM’s Global Business Services’ Public Sector business, has advanced Wolf Trap’s endeavors with as much savvy as he displays in his corporate role. His presence on the board shows his dedication to community.
Arnold Punaro, CEO of the Punaro Group, serves his community and the interests of the government contracting industry by serving on the board of Wolf Trap.
Corporate leaders who shoulder the responsibility of supporting their communities through philanthropic endeavors rarely get the accolades they deserve. Their support of Wolf Trap’s STEM project allows the initiative to have far reaching impact on the lives of the children it serves. Without that corporate support, the reach may very well be greatly diminished.