Written by Faith Frank
According to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education, yet there will be a shortage of 5 million workers to meet this requirement. As college costs in the U.S. continue to rise, more and more young talents are financially excluded from furthering their education.
Of all the long-term investments a company can make, education is one of the most beneficial. Companies can facilitate an increase in college educated people which then provides a larger pool of job candidates and future executives. This is positive for companies, the economy and the country.
In 2003, AXA saw an opportunity to provide scholarships and through the philanthropic arm of the company, the AXA Foundation, started the AXA Achievement Scholarship program. Today, through that program, the AXA Foundation is one of the nation’s largest corporate providers of scholarships, awarding $1.4 million annually.
Every April, AXA awards 52 high school seniors — one from each state, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — college scholarships of $10,000. Of those winners, 10 students are recognized as national winners and receive an additional scholarship award of $15,000. Since the program’s inception in 2003, AXA has awarded more than $25 million in scholarships to over 6,000 remarkable young people, who have demonstrated that they will not only succeed in college, but that they are determined to change the world.
Through their ambition, initiative and passion, these exemplary students are driving awareness and innovation in areas of great need, both within their communities and beyond, with achievements in education, community outreach, health and disease prevention, and environmental research. Each year, the achievers never cease to amaze me with what they have already accomplished -- and most of them are not yet 18!
The 2016 class of achievers includes many impressive accomplishments such as a Wisconsin student who founded FIRST Ladies, an organization with over 800 members from more than 20 countries for young women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) that offers a support community for students and professional women to network and share ideas. A student in New York invented SafeWander, a low-cost wearable sensor that sends an alert to a caregiver’s mobile device when a loved one or a patient gets up from a bed or chair, and started a company to sell the device to those in need. In 2014, he presented a TED Talk about his invention and how it helped keep his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, safe.
Helping people protect what matters most to them is inherent to AXA’s mission, which AXA Achievement helps to do not only with scholarships, but also through providing access, advice, education and strategies for families on planning and financing college.
Aside from assisting students, businesses can also lend much-needed financial support to teachers, so that they can continue to support the next generation. For example, the AXA Foundation’s AXA Achievement Community Award now not only awards scholarships to students throughout the United States, but the recipient’s schools will also receive a $2,500 grant to aid in teacher professional development. AXA knows that without the educators supporting these students their dreams and aspirations may not become a reality.
Through the AXA Foundation and the programs we fund, I hope we can enable people to develop their full potential to make positive contributions to the world. I can’t think of a wiser investment in that goal than in helping make college a reality for America’s young people. Who knows, one of them may just end up being a future leader at your company — or mine!
Faith Frank is president and CEO of the AXA Foundation, at AXA US. The 2016 AXA Achievement Scholarships were announced April 13 and the AXA Achievement Community Award will be announced on April 25.
“AXA” is the brand name of AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC and its family of companies, including AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY) and Advisors, LLC. AXA S.A. is a French holding company for a group of international insurance and financial services companies, including AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC.