The Group's commitment to educational initiatives for youth led us to support a number of innovative projects in 2013.
The Chrysler Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization sponsored exclusively by Chrysler Group, helped students at the Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center in Warren (US) literally "reach for the stars". A grant from the Foundation enabled high school students to send one of their science experiments to the International Space Station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program mission. Overseen by the US National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program typically gives 300-plus students across a community the ability to design and propose real microgravity experiments to be conducted aboard the International Space Station. The students' project launched on January 9, 2014 from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration facility in Virginia and headed for the space station for the experiments to begin.
Chrysler Group also provided support to the nonprofit organization Winning Futures, in the form of mentors from the company and grants for scholarships. Winning Futures partners with high schools in the Detroit (US) area to focus on character value development, self-exploration, goal setting, job readiness skills, overcoming obstacles and strategic planning. More than 95% of students from the program continue their education past high school. By serving as positive adult role models, Chrysler Group employees help the students make positive changes in both their school and home lives, and demonstrate the Group's commitment to "hands-on" engagement in the community.
The Group also recognizes that children cannot focus on their studies when they are hungry. In 2013, the Chrysler Foundation collaborated in an innovative partnership with the Detroit Public Library and Forgotten Harvest, a Detroit-area (US) food rescue organization. This program provides school-aged children with free nutritious snacks and lunches at more than a 20 Detroit (US) library branches during the library's summer and after-school reading programs. Due in part to the lunch program, the number of children participating increased in 2013 to 6,598 – up 23% from 2012. And while the further impact on families has not been measured, the number of children accompanied by a parent or adult also has increased and it’s not uncommon for them to take part in the food program too. In total, 11,000 lunches were served over a 10-week period during the summer of 2013.
In the EMEA region, the Master's Course in Industrial Automation organized jointly by Politecnico di Torino and Comau for the Fiat Group, provides young people the training and employment opportunities necessary to help them develop their talents and put them into practice in those sectors of Italian industry where there is a growing demand for these skills. Funded by the Piedmont Region, the course is a training and employment pathway that aims at attracting and selecting the best graduates in engineering from Italian and foreign universities, helping them specialize in industrial automation, and finally hiring them through a two-year advanced apprenticeship contract.
The course is held entirely in English and provides 540 hours of lessons the first year, partly conducted by Comau managers, and 660 hours of project work at the company the second year. The growing number of young engineers hired by the company testifies to the initiative's success: 15 graduates attended the first session, 19 students the second, and another 25 have started the latest session of the Master program, for a total of 59 new hires in three years.
In 2013, under the agreement with Politecnico di Torino and in collaboration with the Associazione Tecnica dell'Automobile (ATA) and Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF), three new voluntary courses were launched as part of the VEP (Voluntary Educational Program) and Summer School. The programs, each totaling 120 hours, focused on environmental sustainability issues and some of the most important ways to reduce vehicle emissions. This program provides students with a post-graduate degree in Automotive Engineering and the opportunity to gain the most up-to-date knowledge directly from those who deal with this challenge at the company.
Among the community-based initiatives in Serbia surrounding the Kragujevac plant, Fiat Automobili Srbija (FAS) has developed and launched a number of projects to support education. The collaboration with the University of Kragujevac and local schools is being strengthened to increase the level of education and technical training in the automotive field. Inspired, initiated and supported by FAS, the University of Kragujevac has opened two new study programs - Italian language and automotive engineering. During 2013, professors from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and the Polytechnic Academy have conducted lectures and expert training for FAS workers in various fields - robotics, hydraulics, electrics, metrology and pneumatics.
Fiat Group also promotes educational activities for the children of employees. For example, in Brazil, as an incentive for elementary school students, Fundação Fiat distributes school supplies to the children of Group employees at the start of the school year. In addition, the Maratona Cultural initiative, supported by Fiat Group companies in Brazil for the past 13 years, aims to support the educational progress of employees' children at the elementary and middle school levels.
In Betim (Brazil), the rate of students participating in the Árvore da Vida Jardim Teresópolis project who passed their final exams at school made a leap from 71% in 2004 to 96% in 2013, and the percentage of students attending school grew from 78% to 99.5% in the same period.
Fiat Group also developed the Árvore da Vida Professional Training initiative in seven Brazilian States, providing the professional education young people need to be employed in the company’s dealer network. Since 2006, around 670 students benefited from this program, with an employment rate of 87%. This initiative helps Fiat Group to contribute to the implementation of national policies for youth training and job creation in Brazil.
Also, through this program the Group is fostering the employability of women. In the automobile sales consultant course, women are the majority in the classroom. Six of the 18 graduates of the first electromechanical class in Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, were women.
The Group's involvement in the Árvore da Vida program had provided us with varied and substantial experience in developing multi-stakeholder relationship strategies. By listening to communities and other key partners, we have been able to build socially responsible best practices with them. Consideration of stakeholder needs has become an integral part of the way business is conducted.
Fiat Group's commitment to multi-stakeholder community engagement is also demonstrated by the recent building project of a new plant in the Pernambuco region of Brazil.
During 2013, specific educational activities were developed for the community around the plant, focused on promoting better education in the region and ensuring the inclusion of the population in the professional activities of the automotive industry. These activities include:
- partnership between the Pernambuco Government and Fiat for the development of automotive courses (basic qualification, technical and college courses) starting in 2014
- training preparation of the public school teachers on technologies, processes and automotive products
- collaboration with the Universities of Pernambuco and other institutions to increase the level of education and technical training in automotive fields
- partnership between the Pernambuco Government, Politecnico di Torino and Fiat to prepare future engineers for the automotive industry. In 2013, five engineers with double degrees (Brazil and Italy) were hired into the Pernambuco Program. There are 15 young talents participating in this initiative, or in studying.