MIRIAM MUNIZ used to cut classes. Kimberly Stoeckle and Adlai
Allen just didn't go to school.
But last November the three teenagers started to get more
personalized counseling and extra tutoring. Their parents made
certain they didn't just sit around the house watching television.
Now, Miriam is working on her resume and dreams of becoming an
interpreter at the United Nations; Kimberly is hoping to become a
beautician; and Adlai, who wants to become a professional athlete,
is attending classes.
What's making the difference for these teens? Corporate
Last November, Burger King Corporation contributed $65,000 to
set up a "Burger King Academy" at William Penn High School here
to reach teens who were at risk of dropping out. The teens, their
parents, and the academy all signed contracts detailing what they
agreed to accomplish.
After the first year, the local Burger King franchisee agreed to
raise the money to keep the program going. The funds go toward such
purposes as computer programs, counseling, tutors, and extra
Such corporate involvement in education is growing. "We are
seeing more and more companies wanting to become directly involved
in the schools," says Sean Milliken, special assistant to the vice
president of program development at Cities in Schools Inc., a
Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that set up the
program used by Burger King.
In its annual survey of corporations, the Council for Aid to
Education in New York estimates that United States corporations
gave all educational institutions a total of $2.43 billion in 1991,
up 4 percent from the previous year. While most of that funding
went to higher education, the 410 companies that answered the
survey said they gave about $316 million to elementary and
secondary schools. Those numbers do not reflect the value of
mentoring, tutoring, or the use of facilities provided by
For example, Proctor & Gamble has become deeply involved in
federal, state, and local educational strategy. Bob Wehling, vice
president for public affairs, estimates that he spends 20 hours a
week on education, and John Pepper, the consumer giant's president,
spends 10 hours a week.
"The more people who are involved in-depth, including business
people, the sooner we will solve the problem," says Mr. Wehling,
who serves on an educational task force interacting with each of
the 50 states.
The corporate effort is partly altruistic. But increasingly the
effort is also for corporate self-preservation. "A company
committed to living in one city cannot stand a city that is filled
with dangerous young people," says Paul Hill, a senior social
scientist at the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. He says
corporations bring an atmosphere of "crisis and discontent,"
which causes cities to look more closely at their educational
As some corporations are finding, however, making a difference
in education can be as difficult as solving tough business
problems. For years, the business community has tried to help
schools with trips to the zoo or the purchase of video equipment. …