Jabil has long been known for its prowess as a worldwide engineering and manufacturing leader. But from its base in Pinellas County, the technology company has been instrumental for years in engineering student success and manufacturing enhanced classroom opportunities as a steadfast partner of the Pinellas Education Foundation.
Jabil’s contributions to a variety of Foundation programs stands at nearly $400,000 – particularly as a major sponsor of classroom grants, specifically in STEM education; a dedicated supporter of Take Stock in Children through its employee giving campaign and charity events; involvement annually with the school supplies drive for children in need, Stuff the Bus; and the participation of members on the St. Pete’s Promise committee.
“As a whole, we support three focus areas – education, empowerment and the environment – that’s what our global philanthropic mission is,” says Jabil’s Director of Communications Dawn Shields. “From an education standpoint, we want to help the school system in Pinellas provide value for the students, some of whom will hopefully be potential employees in the future. And starting at the early phase of their educational experience is important.”
Jabil’s support of teachers in the classroom grants, dating back to 2000, is a case in point. The program provides teachers with essential classroom items that make a direct impact on their ability to engage students on a daily basis and shape their lives. This past year, Jabil awarded 11 classroom grants, directly impacting 1,114 students and another 1,807 indirectly from grades K-5.
One such area of Jabil’s support in that regard has been a grant covering “Wonder Workshop Cue Robots,” which, when turned on, immediately begin interacting with students. The robots, pre-programmed by Jabil, give students a chance to code them, use a drawing kit to have robots create shapes, and traverse a maze. “The robots seem to really allow students to try out their ideas and write some creative codes to have robots complete different tasks,” explains Pinellas Park Middle School teacher Sarah Swooch, who guided her STEM students on an educational journey last year.
This past year, 249 students impacted by Jabil’s grants showed an interest in STEM classes, and 580 improved their grades in STEM subjects as a result.
Of course, Jabil’s impact on Pinellas students is hardly limited to STEM. Its support of Take Stock in Children has helped open doors for students to become the first in their families to attend college, and achieve success in life that might otherwise have eluded them. “The most meaningful part of that is that you are changing a life,” Shields says. “But in addition to the college scholarship, the way the program supports the students through the process – the mentoring, the check-ins that keep them on the right path – is so important.”
Stuff the Bus has allowed Jabil employees to get involved directly, volunteering at annual drives and collecting supplies to aid students who otherwise might not be able to have the basic tools to succeed in class.
“For Stuff the Bus, it’s a fun day, and allows our employees a chance to see the impact they’re making – not just from Jabil but from other companies,” Shields says. “It’s nice to be part of a community that really feels that giving back is important.”
Opening doors in that community, paving the way for student achievement as a generous Pinellas Education Foundation ally, is what Jabil engineers year after year.