Our cash and in-kind donations to local, regional, and national charitable organizations that share our commitment to improving communities, enriching lives, and investing in the next generation.
How building robots also builds opportunity
Matthew Miller knows firsthand the impact that an innovative learning environment and a supportive adult mentor can have in young people’s lives.
"In high school, I took part in a program that taught problem solving through hands-on learning: how to think, collaborate, design, create and compete," says Matthew, an Assistant Program Manager on the Universal Parks Technology Innovation Team. "It had a huge influence on how I chose my career path."
Now Matthew, like many Comcast NBCUniversal employees, is returning the favor as a volunteer mentor with a FIRST Robotics team based in Orlando, Florida.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national nonprofit that helps develop students’ self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills, while inspiring them to pursue opportunities and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Nationally, Comcast NBCUniversal sponsors more than 50 high school teams in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, in which competitors design, build, and program a robot for specific tasks. During the 2014 season, four of our sponsored teams reached the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
FIRST Robotics teams that we sponsor in communities across the United States
Now in his second year as a mentor, Matthew says he’s inspired by knowing FIRST Robotics might just fuel the passion of a young millennial who someday becomes a colleague.
"I tell them how I got my foot in the door and worked my way up from an intern," Matthew says. "They begin to look at Comcast NBCUniversal as a place where they could put their skills to work in the real world."
He has also come to realize that these young people learn more than robotics. "Our kids develop teamwork, leadership, and social skills that give them the confidence they need to go out and become better employees and citizens," he says.
Dare to dream: Robotics documentary inspires Hispanic teens
In 2004, two Phoenix high school science teachers daringly entered their school in an unusual robotics competition — one that took place entirely underwater. Four students, all sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants, signed up.
What happened next sent shock waves through the school and Hispanic community. Going toe-to-toe against the likes of MIT and other college powerhouses, these four students conquered the competition with a ragtag robot made of PVC, duct tape, and — to ward off a last-minute flotation emergency — eight super-plus tampons.
The teens’ story is told in Underwater Dreams, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio that shines a light on several issues of importance among Hispanics, including immigration and the lack of opportunities for Hispanic students in the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics fields. In July 2014, MSNBC and Telemundo simulcast Underwater Dreams as part of our nationwide Aprender es Triunfar campaign (Learning Is Succeeding), helping spread the film’s story of hope and empowerment to Hispanic audiences across the United States and in other countries.
The documentary, which was also rebroadcast on mun2 (now NBC UNIVERSO) and shown in July at 100 community screenings at AMC Theatres, has had a profound impact on viewers. Belen Garcia, Vice Principal at Adelaide Price Elementary School in Anaheim, California, called it "a life-changing film for young scholars and adults." Julio Ricardo Verela, founder of the humor and commentary site LatinoRebels.com, tweeted, "Let's be real: Seeing young Latino high school students showing a love of science on film is beyond powerful." And Diana Albarron Chicas, a Latina engineer with a degree from MIT, summed up the message of the documentary this way: "Young people will rise to the level of expectation, regardless of poverty or immigration status."
Lessons learned, Little and Big
Inspiration and service go hand in hand when it comes to our people and their commitment to helping the next generation succeed. Comcast NBCUniversal employees who participate in volunteer programs report that they are more inspired to do their best work every day. In fact, they score an average of 10 points higher on employee engagement surveys than those who do not volunteer.
One of our premier volunteer initiatives is the Beyond School Walls youth mentoring program, which we continue to expand in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Every two weeks, about 325 of our employees nationwide join at-risk students from neighborhood schools in the workplace for one-on-one time and a glimpse at future career possibilities. The students (Littles) are matched with employees (Bigs) who share their time, talent, and attention, both inside and out of the office. The results can be life changing, for Littles and Bigs.
Earlier this year, our work with Beyond School Walls earned Comcast the Corporate Mentoring Challenge Award from MENTOR, a national organization dedicated to expanding mentorship.
Caring for communities
Few events embody our company and employee values better than Comcast Cares Day, the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer effort. Led by our employees each spring, the event provides an opportunity to celebrate our year-round commitment to making a positive difference in the communities we serve.
In 2014, nearly 95,000 volunteers contributed 570,000 hours at more than 820 projects in 15 countries around the world. One out of every eight of our 2014 Comcast Cares Day projects took place at a neighborhood school — painting, cleaning, improving, and upgrading the buildings, grounds, and learning environments. And the next generation volunteered their time and talents as well: In 2014, one out of five volunteers was under the age of 18.
Since the first Comcast Cares Day in 2001, more than 600,000 volunteers have contributed 3.7 million hours of service.