May 2010

Reading right

Tata companies in North America are working to encourage education in local communities through an innovative book donation initiative

Education has always ranked very high among Tata’s corporate sustainability programs. In an innovative partnership program, Tata companies based in North America have joined hands with First Book, an award-winning, US-based non-profit organisation, to provide books to children from low-income families across the continent in a bid to encourage reading among school-going children.

The initiative was launched in 2007 and involves the Washington office of Tata Sons, one of the promoter companies of the Tata group, and several other US-based Tata companies: Eight O'Clock Coffee, Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Business Support Services (TBSS), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Communications, Tata Steel Europe (Corus) and Tata Interactive Systems.

An initial endowment of $65,000 to First Book led to Simon & Schuster, the well-known publishing house, donating one book for a child in need for every dollar committed by the Tata companies. In this manner, 65,000 books (valued at $260,000) were distributed to needy children across the US. The distribution of books began in February 2008.

The Tata-First Book partnership has since gathered further impetus with donation and distribution drives in several cities to bring new books every year to children in need nationwide.

Tata Interactive Systems: In addition to its funding contribution, Tata Interactive Systems chipped in with support by designing an online network that enabled First Book to communicate more effectively with its partners, donors and volunteers.

Eight O’Clock Coffee: The program picked up further momentum in February 2008 when elementary school students from the Maryland area visited Eight O'Clock Coffee’s packing plant in the Mid-Atlantic state. Employees from the company, as well as those from other Tata enterprises operating in the US, hosted a reading party and book donation program, and provided a tour of the plant.

In October 2008, Eight O'Clock Coffee teamed up with Candlewick Press and donated some 8,000 books to First Book, providing new reading material for needy children. Candlewick Press matched their donation book for book and the initiative was, appropriately enough, named Don-8 Books.

TBSS: In April 2009, the Tata group continued its association with First Book with Tata Business Support Services donating 1,500 books to 750 children at a Florida school. Thirty first-graders participated in one-on-one reading sessions with Tata employees in an event widely covered by the local print and electronic news media.

Jaguar Land Rover: First Book, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Sons helped bring 1,000 books to children at Jackson Avenue Elementary School in Hackensack, New Jersey on October 26, 2009.

A hundred first graders had an extra-special afternoon exploring two Jaguars and two Land Rovers parked on-site. In addition, the children enjoyed a read-aloud with Jaguar Land Rover North America President, Gary Temple and Tata Sons Chief Representative, David Good. The kids participated in some fun reading activities and received two new books – Cars, a Little Golden book, and the classic Green Eggs and Ham – which they got to keep for their very own.

Taj Campton Place: In early March 2010, Tata executives and San Francisco's business and policy elite gathered at the Taj Campton Place to kick start a Tata Sons — Taj Campton Place donation of 10,000 books to children in need across California.

First Book, Tata Sons and Taj Campton Place also held a reading event for 25 third grade students at the Marshall Elementary School in San Francisco. After a lively reading session with the students, followed by a tour of the school, each student went home with two brand new books — a total of 1,000 books for the school!
Tata Sons and the other Tata companies associated with the book-donation drive will continue to host similar programs to promote and encourage education in communities where the companies operate. A key component of this community initiative is the on-going partnership with First Book, which is expected to help many more needy children in the coming years.

Tata Sons, TCS, TBSS: Tata Sons, TCS and TBSS joined hands in November 2008, to commit a three-year grant of $75,000 which will create educational opportunities for children in the Appalachian counties of Ohio. The three companies have partnered with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.