Michelin Rolls Up Its Sleeves to Improve Public Education

Michelin Challenge Education provides hands-on support for public schools

Aug 04, 2009, 10:30 ET from Michelin North America

GREENVILLE, S.C., Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- When South Carolina public schools reconvene for the 2009-2010 academic year later this month, thousands of students will gain a new source of support, courtesy of employees at Michelin North America. The company today announced Michelin Challenge Education, a program that provides assistance to public elementary schools in Michelin facility communities. Every major Michelin facility in South Carolina, as well as some outlying facilities, is adopting a public school in need.

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"Michelin has long supported programs to improve the quality of education in the state of South Carolina and throughout the communities in North America where we maintain a presence," said Dick Wilkerson, chairman and president of Michelin North America. "Michelin Challenge Education takes that commitment to the next level. This program represents a focused effort to make a difference for students at the earliest stages of learning, which is a critical time in a child's development."

Research shows that children who are held back in elementary school grades are much more likely to drop out of school. Children that experience success early on are much more likely to graduate. Successful childhood educational programs reduce the need for being held back and special education while increasing graduation rates and providing better opportunities for employment and income. The median income for a full-time worker with less than a high school education is more than 50 percent lower than that of a high school graduate.

Michelin Challenge Education will focus on the support of public elementary schools located in close proximity to major Michelin facilities. By forming a true partnership between each facility and its adopted school, Michelin will provide support to meet the specific needs of each school. Several of these include low-income schools receiving federal Title I funds.

The program formalizes an opportunity for Michelin's nearly 8,000 South Carolina employees to make a personal contribution to the improvement of public education through hands-on involvement. Michelin employees will serve as mentors, tutors and volunteers at the following schools:

  • East North Street Academy, Greenville, S.C. (Michelin North America Headquarters)
  • Ellen Woodside Elementary, Pelzer, S.C. (Michelin Americas Research Company)
  • Grove Elementary, Piedmont, S.C. (Greenville Manufacturing US1)
  • Townville Elementary, Townville, S.C. (Anderson Semi-Finished US2/US8)
  • Fair Forest Elementary, Spartanburg, S.C. (Spartanburg Manufacturing US3)
  • Forts Pond Elementary, Pelion, S.C. (Lexington Manufacturing US5/US7)
  • E.B. Morse Elementary, Laurens, S.C. (Laurens Proving Grounds)
  • Sue Cleveland Elementary, Piedmont, S.C. (Molds US6, Greenville Manufacturing PRIME)

Some of the company's outlying facilities are also participating:

  • Honeysuckle Middle School, Dothan, Ala. (Dothan Manufacturing US4)
  • Farnsley Middle School, Louisville, Ky. (American Synthetic Rubber Company, ASRC)
  • Cottondale Elementary, Cottondale, Ala. (BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing, Tuscaloosa)

"These are our communities. In many cases, these are our children and certainly they are the next generation of leaders. It is clear to us that we must actively support our public school system if we wish to secure their future," said Wilkerson. "In addition to providing support that will help improve academic performance, we hope to make a lasting impact on these students with this program. Michelin Challenge Education demonstrates a continued effort to help strengthen our communities by supporting major gains in the public education system with a focus on elementary education."

For the past decade, South Carolina elementary school students have consistently scored below the national average in math, science, reading and writing scores, according to the U.S. Department of Education's state report card. South Carolina ranks 45th nationally, and lowest among its neighboring states, in education and workforce preparedness. The state also maintains one of the nation's highest dropout rates, the ninth highest poverty rate and the third highest unemployment rate at 12.1 percent.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said that Michelin, as one of South Carolina's leading employers, is "an exceptional source of highly qualified and knowledgeable professionals."

"Michelin's employees will be able to help in many ways, over and above the work-based skills they bring to the classroom," Rex said. "For one thing, they are excellent role models. They're real life proof for young kids that there are good jobs available in their communities if they stay in school."

Rex said he hopes that Michelin's program will help set a new standard for corporate involvement with elementary school students.

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelin-us.com) employs 22,500 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.

SOURCE Michelin North America