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9/2/2014 12:00 AM

The Biogen Idec Foundation focuses its grantmaking mainly on education programs — especially STEM education — as well as community development initiatives.


Established in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company. The company’s major focus areas include neurology and immunology, and its flagship products include Avonex for the treatment of multiple sclerosis; Tysabri for the treatment of MS and Crohn’s disease; and Rituxan for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. All told, the company’s products are sold in more than 90 countries around the world. In 2013, Biogen Idec posted sales of about $6.9 billion and employed roughly 6,850 workers worldwide.


Biogen Idec conducts its philanthropy mainly through the Biogen Idec Foundation, which the company established in 2001 with the goal to improve the quality of life and the vitality of local communities in areas where the company’s employees live and work.

Much of the foundation’s grants are directed to groups and projects that benefit the Greater Boston region as well as Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, N.C.—both of which are home to major Biogen Idec facilities.

The foundation’s core giving areas include:

  • STEM education. The company and its foundation provide significant support to a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related programs and initiatives, including:
    • The Biomedical Science Careers Program. The foundation has been a long-time supporter of the Biomedical Science Careers Program, which was established in 1991 to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the health professions and the biomedical sciences. BSCP identifies academically outstanding minority students and trainees dreaming of a career in medicine, health care, science and biotechnology, and provides them with information, support and scholarships. In 2012, BSCP partnered with Biogen Idec to advance the career opportunities of its students through mentoring, speaking engagements and internships with the company.
    • The Museum of Science. The foundation awarded a $1 million grant to the Museum of Science in Boston to establish the Biogen Idec Science Education Fund, which will support interactive science education and outreach programs for middle and high school students across the state.
    • Teach For America. The foundation recently awarded a $100,000 grant to support Teach For America programs in Massachusetts and eastern North Carolina to promote STEM education.
    • The Museum of Life and Science. A $65,000 grant was awarded to this museum to support its Investigate Health Laboratory, a hands-on exhibit that attracts more than 32,000 visitors annually to participate in guided science experiments in a fun and engaging atmosphere, exploring topics in chemistry, biology, physics and more.
  • K–12 science programming. The company provides microgrants of $250 to $2,500 to schools and nonprofits to extend their work in science education. The foundation awards dozens of these microgrants each year, supporting groups such as:
    • Putnam Avenue Upper School in Cambridge, Mass., for an engineering design program where students design and build remote-controlled rovers and race cars.
    • Somerville High School in Somerville, Mass., for a group of 100 ninth graders to embark on an ecology field trip to explore species diversity, test water quality and conduct experiments on the ocean shoreline.
    • Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough, N.C., for a class project utilizing data analysis technology.
    • North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, N.C., for a residential summer enrichment program designed to further inspire minority students at the school to pursue STEM careers.
  • Academic matching gifts. Through this program, the foundation matches up to $5,000 in donations made by employees and its board of directors to qualified colleges and universities in the United States. In 2012, the foundation awarded more than $150,000 in academic matching gifts.
  • Promoting strong communities. The foundation also provides grants to empower and support local community needs, including general education, human services, and culture and the arts. Some of the initiatives supported in recent years include:
    • The Greater Boston Food Bank’s Kids Café program, which provides healthy meals five evenings per week to 1,000 children, ages five to 18, who are at high risk of hunger.
    • The Meals on Wheels Wake Forest Adopt-a-Day program, developed as a means to bridge the growing gap that exists between the need for homebound meal delivery services and funding for the program in Wake County, N.C.
    • The Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, to present programs that exhibit the artwork of ethnically and culturally diverse artists to educate the community about diversity and to make arts facilities available to the community.

Additional information is available on the company’s website.

Industry News
8/26/2014 12:00 AM

A new study from the mGive Foundation shows that making charitable donations via text message is becoming more popular and is an effective way to engage donors.

“Fast and easy and timely and trusted.”

“Spur of the moment philanthropy.”

“No excuses not to donate.”

These are just some of the ways in which the American public describes donating to charity via text messages, according to a newly released study conducted by the mGive Foundation. And if trends continue, the public’s “thumbs up” for this newest donation channel is likely to improve even more in the future as charitable groups integrate content delivery and mobile-optimized websites with their text donation campaigns.

The 2014 mGive Text Donation Study found improvements across the board when it comes to how American donors view contributions made via text. For example:

  • Text donations are gaining in popularity among older adults, with the Boomers 2 group—those born between 1955 and 1965—constituting the largest group of respondents in this year’s survey, at 29 percent. Altogether, both Boomer groups—those born between 1945 and 1965—comprised 46 percent of text donors in 2013, the survey found. Last year, Millennials comprised the largest block, at 24 percent of text donors, the same percentage they represented in this year’s survey.
  • 98 percent of those who had made a donation via text message in 2013 said their mobile donation experience was “excellent” or “good,” compared to 85 percent the prior year. That’s higher than any other donation channel, the study shows.
  • Text donations scored as the most preferred method for making a donation among this group, edging out online Web donations and special events for second and third place, respectively.
  • Mobile donors were more likely to give at higher amounts this year, with 46 percent reporting they gave $250 or more in 2013, compared to 42 percent the year before.
  • Text donors said they were more inclined to continue giving by text donation this year compared with last year, with 85 percent saying they would give again, a 13-point jump from the prior year.
  • Support among text donors for making donations via more traditional methods jumped up four percentage points from last year’s survey, from 85 percent to 89 percent, confirming that giving via text does not “cannibalize” or detract from other methods of donating, the study said.
  • Support for giving larger donations by text grew as well, with 70 percent saying they would like to give $25 via their mobile device (current limits are $5 and $10). This is an increase from 65 percent in 2013’s study, the group said.

Notably, cause marketing campaigns are a key driver of text donations, with about two-thirds of respondents saying they were more likely to make a text donation if a company or brand makes the solicitation. Support for cause marketing was strongest among Baby Boomers, and a top choice among all age groups except “Gen Thumb,” a group also known as Gen Z and defined by mGive as those born in 1995 or later. For this cohort, the most-cited incentive was being entered into a sweepstakes if they donated via text.

More good news from the study: Text donors increasingly want news, updates and volunteer information for the organizations they support sent to them via text message, with about 58 percent of respondents preferring this. That’s an increase of 20 percentage points since 2012. Further, some 45 percent of text donors reported using their mobile phones to make a donation through a charity’s website.

These two findings, the study suggests, show that text donors are actively seeking further engagement with the groups and causes they support, providing an avenue for nonprofits to increase donations and volunteer support in the future. Key to that, mGive says, is optimizing text messages, emails and websites—especially donation pages—so that the user has a rich and uniform experience regardless of whether they access the information from a desktop computer, tablet or cell phone.

For more information, or to access the study in full, go to

8/12/2014 12:00 AM

Rockwell Collins’ philanthropy is targeted on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; health and human services; and environmental groups serving the communities where the company operates.


Rockwell Collins is a leading developer and manufacturer of communication and aviation electronics for both commercial and government applications. The company offers expertise in flight-deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, simulation and training, and information management, among other areas, with its operations divided into two primary segments: commercial systems, which makes avionics and in-flight entertainment systems for commercial aircraft, and government systems, which develops communication systems with military applications, mainly for the U.S. government. In 2013, the company posted sales of about $4.6 billion and employed roughly 18,300 workers worldwide.


Rockwell Collins has two primary philanthropic vehicles: the Rockwell Collins Charitable Corporation and the Rockwell Collins Community Partnership Fund. Through these entities, the company supports a range of charitable groups and causes benefiting the local communities where the company does business.

The Rockwell Collins Charitable Corporation was established for the purpose of supporting qualified nonprofit organizations in the communities where Rockwell employees live and work. These grants are targeted for major projects and programs and generally total $5,000 or more. Priority funding areas include education—especially science, technology, engineering and math—with an emphasis on youth educational programming.

Meanwhile, the purpose of the Rockwell Collins Community Partnership Fund is to support nonprofit groups via fundraising, sponsorships, and other events and activities. These grants are typically less than $5,000 and are made in communities around the United States where Rockwell Collins has facilities and at least 100 employees.

Education-related endeavors receive the bulk of the company’s charity, with support given to numerous STEM-related programs and initiatives. Some notable examples include:

  • The FIRST Connection. The company has a long-established partnership with FIRST, a nonprofit organization coordinating multinational programs that team professionals and young people to solve engineering design problems in intense and competitive ways. Rockwell’s support includes team and tournament sponsorships, teacher training and rewards, and Rockwell Collins employee and retiree involvement.
  • As part of this effort, Rockwell’s engineers assist elementary and middle school students participating in FIRST LEGO League, where they build unique robot inventions by using LEGO bricks and other elements such as sensors, motors and gears. The company has committed to growing the number of FIRST LEGO teams in Iowa and in Rockwell Collins communities across the United States, to involve and inspire more students.

    In addition, the FIRST Tech Challenge—which involves high school students—combines the project approach of FIRST LEGO League with the excitement and innovation of FIRST robotics. Students work in teams to design, test and program larger-scale robots. Rockwell Collins supports teams and tournaments throughout Iowa, with the goal of having FIRST Tech Challenge teams in every high school in the state.

  • Engineers Week. Rockwell Collins is a leading corporate supporter of Engineers Week, and its employees participate in EWeek activities across the country as a way to encourage young people to consider engineering as a career. Formal activities include Introduce a Girl to Engineering and the 24-Hour Global Marathon—activities for, by and about women in engineering—as well as free, hands-on engineering activities in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City corridor and other locations.
  • Employee volunteers coordinate hands-on activities for K–12 students, mentor high school and college students and engage math and science educators in special events during EWeek. In addition, Rockwell supports the Future City Competition, which challenges seventh- and eighth-grade students from around the country to team with engineer mentors to create—first on computer and then in large, three-dimensional models—their visions of the city of tomorrow.

  • Project Lead the Way. Through partnerships with middle schools and high schools, Project Lead the Way pairs students with educators as they go through rigorous, relevant STEM coursework.
  • Team America Rocketry Challenge. The Team America Rocketry Challenge is the world’s largest rocket contest, sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry. Students are encouraged to study math and science and pursue careers in aerospace through a competition that challenges teams to design, build and fly model rockets. Approximately 7,000 students from across the nation compete in the challenge each year, and winners are invited to participate in NASA advanced rocketry programs.
  • Career Awareness. Each year, 100 to 200 high school students shadow a Rockwell Collins professional for half a day as part of the company’s job shadowing program, designed to introduce young people to potential careers. High school juniors and seniors can also learn how business operates and apply classroom concepts to real-world situations while exploring future careers through longer-term internships at Rockwell Collins facilities.

The company also contributes to health and human services and civic organizations, especially those with which its employees are involved as volunteers. However, the majority of gifts to these organizations are made through corporate contributions or employee giving campaigns benefiting the United Way.

The company also contributes to select groups and initiatives aimed at protecting or enhancing the natural environment in communities where Rockwell Collins operates. The company’s Green Communities program is intended to help fund environmental projects that result in tangible improvement in the environmental condition of the community and have sustainable project benefits.

Examples include conservation of natural resources and raw materials, improvement of impacts on environmental media, and restoration or development of ecological habitat.

Further information is available on the company’s website.

News Briefs
8/25/2014 12:00 AM

SunTrust Banks awarded a $250,000 grant to Orlando Health for the construction of a new patient tower in central Florida.

Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks has awarded a $250,000 grant to Orlando Health, a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals and care centers in central Florida, for the construction of a new patient tower. According to the company, the donation—the latest in an 80-year philanthropic partnership between the two entities—will support Orlando Regional Medical Center’s new redesign and renovation project, which is currently under way. The project will allow the hospital to foster a new patient experience, including greater accessibility to clinical experts, more coordinated and collaborated care, advanced diagnostics and more timely results, the foundation said.

News Briefs
8/13/2014 12:00 AM

The Citi Foundation awarded $2.1 million in grants to support mentoring and career counseling programs for high-potential students from low-income households.

The Citi Foundation awarded $2.1 million in grants to support initiatives by Management Leadership for Tomorrow and iMentor to connect high-potential students from low-income households with early- to mid-career professionals to provide critical career counseling and mentoring. The grants are part of the Pathways to Progress initiative, the Citi Foundation’s three-year $50 million commitment to bolster economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 10 cities across the United States. The new grants include $1.1 million to launch MLT Ascend, which will connect nearly 1,000 undergraduate students across the country with the mentors, skills and opportunities necessary to pursue the career path of their choice; and $1 million to iMentor to help expand the organization’s successful mentoring program, which pairs high school students from low-income communities with college-educated adult mentors.

News Briefs
8/6/2014 12:00 AM

Chrysler, Ford and GM have pledged $26 million to help the Detroit Institute of Arts keep its collection in public hands.

The Chrysler Group LLC, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and the General Motors Foundation have pledged a total of $26 million in support of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ commitment to raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners and protect the museum’s art collection for the public. The $26 million consists of $10 million from the Ford Motor Company Fund, $5 million from General Motors, $5 million from the General Motors Foundation and $6 million from the Chrysler Group. The arrangement will provide Detroit’s pensioners with more than $800 million from local donors, local and national foundations and the state of Michigan over a 20-year period, the DIA said. As part of the agreement, the city of Detroit will transfer ownership of the DIA’s art collection, building and related assets to the private nonprofit corporation that currently operates the museum, Detroit Institute of Arts Inc.


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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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