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Integrating Business and Education in Silicon Valley

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Eric Swalwell Promotes Access to Companies for Local Students

Recently, President Obama announced grants to help integrate work experience into educational programs in the US with the intention that the grants will help finance partnerships between local education agencies and employers.  Participants in this program will have the opportunity for job-shadowing and mentoring which will give students a chance to experience, first hand, high-demand industries such as information technology, health-care and other science and technology sectors. This grant program is an important development for our educational system as it introduces a reshaping of what current high schools offer and will ensure that students are properly prepared for the rigors of college and a rapidly evolving job market.

Rep. Swalwell at the App workshop he hosted in April 5, 2014 in Hayward

Rep. Swalwell at the App workshop he hosted in April 5, 2014 in Hayward

This vision is already becoming a reality to East Bay students.  Congressman Eric Swalwell, who serves as the U.S. Representative from California’s 15th congressional district, which covers most of eastern Alameda County in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, has created a program that is providing East Bay students with access to companies that can inspire them and help prepare them for a successful career in industry. He says, “We need schools to put themselves into the community that surrounds them. For example, here in the East Bay and Silicon Valley, we have biotech and tech firms that can help students understand the relevance of math and science in the world around them. It is my hope that students and their teachers dedicate themselves to reaching out to those in industry to establish mutually beneficial relationships, and vice-versa.”

Rep. Swalwell is a part of the House of Representatives’ Science, Space and Technology committee and has been active in promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education that prepares students for the 21st century economy and workforce. As an example of his commitment, he has been coordinating an inaugural STEM App Challenge in the region. The Challenge is taking place across the country in participating Congressional districts, with winners being selected from each. Students submit the prototype of an app (for a phone or tablet) and a short video explaining the process and thinking behind it. Rep. Swalwell has held three workshops at which students were provided with assistance from both professional app developers and computer science instructors.

“50 million children starving in the US.” Did I hear that right?

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Impactful piece on the fact that 50 million US kids are “starving”. No, they don’t appear as we might imagine: emaciated. The lack of proper nutrition causes they to look overfed. Yet they are under-nourished, and diabetes, asthma and other lifestyle disease are increasing at alarming rates. Time and money invested up front would make a world of difference to our kids and to our health care dollars. Kudos to organizations like The Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, who are reaching into the community to initiate change.

Non-profit branding – new approaches relevant to all organizations

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SUMMARY:  This seminal piece reveals how non-profits can use branding techniques in unique ways. Also how these can be used by for-profits. What are these so-called non-profit branding techniques? They revolve around creating a clearly stated values/mission statement and using great marketing techniques to communicate those both internally and externally to increase impact/change.

http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector

 

This compelling article, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, is relevant to non-profits and for-profits alike. It reveals a role of branding which falls outside traditional parameters of  “spreading the word externally” to “inspiring change/cohesion internally”. The authors, Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone, who conducted an extensive research study on the success/challenges of branding in non-profits with Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations, and The Rockefeller Institute, come up with important views of branding which will inspire each of us to re-think the power of branding in the organizations we serve.

 

The essential difference in branding in for-profits vs non-profits is that, in for-profits, the end-game is new customers/revenues, whereas in non-profits, the goal is social impact/change. I would say that what unites the two is a goal to increase influence to allow change of any kind to occur (be it to get someone to buy a widget or get them to save water. (If we are working with organizations that “do good” in the world, non-profit or not, I would argue that all types of organizations are about positive social impact.)

 

The message from the article that rung true to me was linking the organization’s values with its branding so that they are communicated clearly. This will enable them to find collaborators/customers/converts. Organizations that aspire to create change need to focus on their values. Specifically, they need to both define their values with the help of their internal and external collaborators, and then communicate them both internally and externally via clear messaging.