Corporate Champions for Education Arrive in Colombia

Pro Bono Service Builds Capacity to Close the Skills Gap

Armed with their skills, experience, and intentions to make the world a better place, eight professionals from SAP, WE Communications, and Niagara Bottling joined together to form the first ‘Corporate Champions of Education’ pro bono team and arrived in Colombia for a month of service, putting their expertise to work with local nonprofits that share a mission to improve educational outcomes.

The brainchild of SAP’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Alexandra van der Ploeg and PYXERA Global’s CEO Deirdre White, Corporate Champions for Education is designed to do two things. First, to make a meaningful contribution to improve the capability of local NGOs to deliver on their missions of closing the skills gap by increasing people’s ability to participate in the digital economy. Secondly, to offer opportunities to more companies to become involved in this important work.

“This is all about inclusion,” said van der Ploeg. “One out of every four workers admits to a skills mismatch in their current role. The World Bank recently determined that 60 percent of global citizens are not even included in the digital economy! This matters to SAP, because corporate social responsibility (CSR) isn’t about a team within the company, it’s about the company’s DNA. At SAP, we believe we have a moral obligation to help initiate people into the modern economy, and we do that across all areas of our company under the banner of ‘Learning for Life.’”

The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation recognized the power of this integrated approach, naming SAP a finalist in their 2019 Citizens Awards (in the category of ‘Commitment to Education’). The Corporate Champions program opens opportunities to employees in more companies, building on a track record of sustainable social impact.

“At Niagara Bottling, we have a deep commitment to making a positive difference in communities where our Team Members live and work,” said Kristen Venick, Director of Corporate Giving. “We have seen what the power of collaboration does and we are excited to expand our impact internationally, sharing our skills and knowledge in the workforce to those in need, which is why we embraced this opportunity for Corporate Champions for Education.”

The Corporate Champions landed in Bogotá, Colombia, intent on serving three nonprofit organizations through strategic projects: Batuta Foundation, an organization that promotes music, culture, and arts for underserved children to improve wellbeing, boost academic performance, and promote cultural diversity; Computadores para Educar, a program that collects discarded computers, refurbishes them, and delivers them at no cost to public schools; and Co-School, a social enterprise that focuses on developing key social and emotional skills among students for personal and professional success.

“An opportunity like this does not present itself every day,” said Shivank Agarwal, Manager of Public Policy with Avian WE (a subsidiary of WE Communications). “In both India, where I come from, and Colombia, there are very high motives to reform education, and I have started to realize that there is a lot of potential for the private sector to contribute in this effort. I think this program will give me a unique way to work with people across different industries who bring unique perspectives, and I will look forward to taking those insights back to India with me and possibly replicating what we learn there.”

A leader in the practice of Global Pro Bono, PYXERA Global recently released the 8th Global Pro Bono State of the Practice report. For the first time, the motivation to generate sustainable social impact has become the top reason to invest in Global Pro Bono, followed by the more traditional objectives of leadership development and employee engagement.

“In our most recent study, we have seen a real change in how companies are reporting their priorities, as the workforce, investors, customers, and communities hold companies to higher social standards,” said Gavin Cepelak, VP of Global Pro Bono at PYXERA Global. “And that’s completely consistent with the recently signed new ‘Statement of Purpose’ by leading companies with the Business Roundtable.” Global Pro Bono programs are one strategy to align multiple stakeholders and enable employees to embody their company’s purpose while building the capacity of nonprofit organizations that provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

Take Action
The Corporate Champions for Education has openings for companies of all sizes to participate in the 2020 program. For more information, visit or contact [email protected]


About PYXERA Global (@PYXERAGlobal)
For nearly 30 years, PYXERA Global has facilitated mutually beneficial partnerships between the public, private, and social sectors worldwide to drive social impact that enriches lives and livelihoods, inclusively and sustainably.

Initiatives include a wide range of services, from short-term, immersive, skills-based volunteering to long-term integrated supply chain and community development efforts that transform lives and livelihoods, including the Corporate Champions for Education, a collaborative multi-company approach to Global Pro Bono.

For media inquiries contact:

Roger Bain
[email protected]

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