We believe that quality education unlocks the potential in all people. To realize that potential for each individual and harness the power of education for the collective good, access to high-quality educational opportunities is a necessity. This ensures that communities will thrive and be sustainable, powered by the educated citizens who innovate, provide diverse thinking, drive economic development and contribute to the many elements that combine to form a good quality of life.
We believe access to high-quality education is essential for everyone and that it is a continuing process. From preschool to high school to higher education to work-based learning and continuing education for those in the workforce, we support quality opportunities that ensure students and teachers have the tools, knowledge and inspiration they need to excel.
We are committed to leveraging our resources and strategic partnerships to maximize opportunities to encourage the next generation of creators, problem solvers and courageous leaders.
We are committed to tapping top talent to fuel Eastman innovation, and we are squarely focused on building a more racially and ethnically diverse talent pool. Stronger partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) are major parts of that focus.
The Eastman Foundation has committed over $1 million to establish multiyear partnerships with HBCUs that provide support for the academic development of HBCU students and select HBCU student facilities and activities, offer students mentorship and professional development opportunities, and enable Eastman to serve in an advisory role to its HBCU strategic partners to help them achieve these outcomes. We have developed especially strong partnerships with North Carolina A&T and Prairie View A&M universities the past two years.
Through a five-year investment of $2.5 million, we proudly sponsor FOSSI because we believe in increasing the number of professionals in the STEM workforce. Established in 2020, FOSSI provides $40,000 scholarships to students studying preferred science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees at HBCUs. The program also offers leadership development, mentorship and internship opportunities, and a one-to-one match with corporate sponsors, including Eastman, that are committed to helping scholars achieve their goals. Eastman CEO Mark Costa serves on the FOSSI advisory board as vice chair.
Eastman’s educational and workforce development efforts create significant indirect economic impacts to our site communities. Our work-based learning (WBL) program partners with secondary schools to provide paid manufacturing job experiences to high school juniors and seniors over the age of 16. WBL offers real, competency-based, hands-on learning to students while developing a strong pipeline of local, talented team members who will contribute to the success of Eastman and our community in the future.
We established our first work-based learning commitment in 2021 at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, enabling six high school students to assume roles within our Kingsport manufacturing plant in 2022. We doubled our number of interns in fall 2023 while adding another participating high school, West Ridge High School.
The Asbury House Child Enrichment Center in Longview, Texas, offers preschool to low-income families. Like other nonprofit organizations, it was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of Eastman’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Connect and Mosaic, saw an opportunity to get involved and make a positive impact. The groups helped Asbury House earn $58,000 in funding from the Eastman Foundation to purchase new flooring and kitchen appliances, improve safety and sanitation, and implement new curriculum.
Each year, Eastman conducts Black History Month Oratorical Contests annually for high school students at five of its manufacturing locations: Kingsport; Longview and Texas City, Texas; Martinsville, Virginia; and Springfield, Massachusetts. The goal is to inform both students and the public about important contributions made globally by African Americans in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields. A student choosing to participate must submit an original essay about a notable Black or African American contributor for their site-specific contest. Students whose essays are among the top of all submissions for their site will be invited to attend a program during which they will present their orations and receive recognition and monetary rewards. More than 900 students have participated in Eastman Black History Month Oratorical Contests, and we have awarded more than $60,000 in scholarship funding to students participating in the contests.
Eastman is a sponsor of HammerBuild, a program available to schools that provides an opportunity for hands-on math experience. HammerBuild programs are a memorable educational day for students. In two hours, students work together using hammers, drills, tool belts and safety goggles to build a house large enough for the entire class to get inside. Elementary and middle schools participating in this program are transported out of the classroom to an on-the-job experience. Throughout the build, students learn the value of math application, goal setting, teamwork and workforce development skills.