Each Pearson company is involved in a number of different initiatives at a variety of levels – from supporting local schools and colleges, to promoting and sponsoring conferences and initiatives with other organisations to raise awareness and foster dialogue on important issues for our times – each promoting literacy in one way or another. In 2008, we supported Book Aid International's Children's Reading Tents Project: touring reading tents held events in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, reaching over 9,000 children, with almost 20,000 books donated by Longman, Ladybird and DK imprints. Penguin UK continued to donate money and supply all the books given out by the Letterbox Club, which sends parcels of books and educational materials to foster children in the UK, many of whom will have never received a letter in their life. The pilot schemes have had such success that it is now being rolled out across the nation in 2009. As a company, we also renewed our membership of the Media CSR Forum, formed new partnerships with JustMeans and held our annual seasonal appeal in December for one major charity in the FT, featuring a series of articles online, in the newspaper and weekend magazine for almost two months.
America's Corporation for National and Community Service honoured Pearson with its annual Corporate Spirit of Service award for outstanding support of national service and volunteering.
We established Pearson Disaster Relief funds for staff wishing to make a personal contribution to aid the victims of the cyclone in Myanmar (Burma) and the earthquake in China in May 2008, also donating $200,000 through the Pearson Foundation to support relief efforts.
We ran our annual Pearson Community Awards for staff, during which people from all over Pearson were invited to tell us about their regular volunteering activities, both through office-run programmes and personal efforts. A panel of executives representing each business awarded a donation of $2,000 (or local equivalent) to the chosen charity of each winner.
New primary school in Afghanistan Penguin (USA) worked with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United States Association for UNHCR to build a primary school in Afghanistan, which recently opened its doors to 270 students. The school is a tribute to American booksellers, librarians and educators who supported Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
FT Seasonal Appeal The FT's 2008 seasonal appeal was in support of Water Aid, highlighting the charity's work in helping communities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region to find sustainable water sources, sanitation and to provide hygiene education. As the appeal draws to its close, the final total of financial donations has reached £167,389. A total of 1,461 donations were made to the appeal with the highest being $25,000 from the Prem Rawat Foundation.
Student Sustainability Summits Pearson Higher Education and the Pearson Foundation has created a series of university-based, student driven events in the US, designed to foster sustainability projects, student leadership and media skills using digital film. The first was held in October 2008.
We believe that part of our duty is to use our considerable platform to promote education. As with everything we do, we try to interpret that responsibility in the broadest sense of the word – by our definition, it's just as important to celebrate the best teachers as it is to encourage all children to read, and equally crucial to give as many young people as we can the opportunity to take an active role in trying to answer the global challenges of climate change. By helping to facilitate and host digital, online and face to- face interactions with students, teachers and other stakeholders, we hope to help others play their part in contributing to the discussions surrounding the key issues of our times. We zone in on a few examples below:
Why I Teach: As part of our Voices in 21st Century Education campaign, the Pearson Foundation helped Teachers of the Year from across the United States visit New York City, and – with a little help from the Digital Arts Alliance – script, compose, and create their own personal video to explain their motivations for teaching.
Spinebreakers: In September 2007, Penguin launched the UK's first online book community for teenagers, giving them the opportunity to discuss, debate and interact with Penguin's rich source of publishing from contemporary titles. Editorial control of the site is in the hands of a core editorial team of nine teenagers aged between 13 and 18 years, supported by a large network of contributing teen editors from across the UK.
The Pennies for Peace Toolkit: The Pearson Foundation, together with Pennies for Peace and the National Education Association Foundation, announced a new K-12 service learning toolkit designed to help educators in the US create effective penny-raising campaigns as part of their school's curriculum.
Teaching Leaders: This new London-based initiative aims to deliver measurable improvements in pupil achievement by developing a network of excellent, well-supported middle leaders – heads of subjects, year group and other whole-school roles. We recently established the Pearson Excellence Awards for Teaching Leaders, pledging to donate £11,000 worth of prizes to reward participants for effective, well-executed initiatives implemented at their schools at the end of the first year in the programme.
PeaceJam Global Call to Action: On 11 September 2008, alongside PeaceJam, the Penguin Young Readers Group and the Digital Alliance, the Pearson Foundation introduced the Global Call to Action Challenge, which encourages young people to document in digital film and in writing the projects they've created and implemented to bring about peace in their local communities. An extension of the newly published Penguin Young Readers book PeaceJam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace, the Global Call to action encourages young people to commit themselves to 1 billion projects to serve their communities in the next ten years.
Ladybird will launch global reading campaign Ladybird Read for Life in 2009. The new look www.ladybird.com will become a one-stop portal to support reading around the world, giving parents and teachers access to a wealth of new free downloadable resources, educational interactive games and podcasts.
"For Pearson people everywhere, the Pearson Foundation is a reminder of how much we can achieve when we put our heads together. It's another, even more personal way that together, we at Pearson help people improve their daily lives.
We never take for granted the importance of what we’re trying to do, and we’re always looking forward to the great things we can accomplish together."
Mark Nieker, President, The Pearson Foundation