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Why Companies Should Invest in Local Education

Last week, Salesforce announced that it would commit to expanding educational opportunities for students in the Bay Area, providing $17.2 million in grants to San Francisco and Oakland school districts as well as $500,000 each to education nonprofits CORE and Blueprint Schools Network.

This is an important move from one of America’s top tech giants – especially against the backdrop of the region’s devastating housing crisis and rising homelessness. With the Bay Area facing the massive consequences of the tech boom, the companies responsible are making a concerted effort to address the impacts of their business. 

Many – like Google, Apple, and Facebook – are pledging millions toward affordable housing, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been a leader in the conversation, donating $30 million personally toward solving homelessness and supporting San Francisco’s Prop C. His company’s investments in education could prove essential to addressing the crisis as well, with studies showing that educational attainment is tied to higher wages, lower unemployment, reduced crime, improved health, and increased civic engagement.

But the problem in the Silicon Valley is exacerbated by tech companies that don’t hire locally, leading to greater income inequality and gentrification. Companies can and must play a role in building educational opportunity not only for the betterment of individuals, but in order to train and expand the qualifications of the local workforce in order to create meaningful job opportunities and increase hiring from within the local community.

This is why, for the first time this year, JUST Capital is tracking how companies are doing when it comes to funding local educational initiatives – from donating to local colleges and universities to training students for the labor force. And Salesforce has historically done well on this front – providing over $50 million in grant funding to the San Francisco and Oakland school districts, as well as donating to other educational initiatives in the region. 

This year, we found that 47% of the companies we evaluate invest in local education in their communities, supporting local development and individual advancement. These contributions come in the form of support to local schools, colleges, and universities, as well as scholarships to individual students or funding for programs that support women or people of color in STEM.

On November 12, we’ll be releasing our full 2020 Rankings, which will showcase which companies – like Salesforce – are investing in their communities through education as well as other initiatives, like apprenticeship programs, second chance policies, and veteran hiring initiatives. Stay tuned for our Rankings, and a fuller picture of how companies are supporting their communities.

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