Last week more than 450 Sojernistas from more than 13 countries descended on Omaha, NE for our annual global employee conference, GloCon. We spent the week learning about what the future holds for Sojern, meeting coworkers from around the world, and working with our teams on exciting projects while practicing our five core values—center around the customer, be genuine, champion diversity, deliver wow, and win as a team.
Sojern Gives Back on a Local and a Global Scale
While Sojern is a global company, we focus on making an impact at the local level through our corporate social responsibility program, Sojern Gives Back. And GloCon was no exception. After a day of learning, the whole company took a moment to give back to the community by partnering with the United Way of the Midlands in their efforts to effect change in the area of literacy and grade level reading. Altogether, we contributed more than 675 volunteer hours to help promote literacy, getting us closer to our 2018 goal of 8,000 total volunteer hours.
Why Focus on Literacy?
Did you know that the most important predictor of high-school graduation happens by third grade? By the end of the third grade, students shift from learning to read, to reading to learn. If a student cannot read proficiently by the end of their third-grade year, reading to learn becomes a constant struggle that leads to a higher risk of dropping out of school completely.
This critical literacy milestone has a direct impact on a global scale. Consider the following statistics:
- Two-thirds of fourth graders in the U.S. are not proficient readers.
- In Australia, 22% of kids are starting school “developmentally vulnerable”.
- In the UK, one in three children does not have a book of their own at home.
- And on a local level, during the 2016-17 school year, nearly 5,600 third grade students in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area were not reading on grade level.
How Can We Positively Impact Change?
It’s up to everyone to help this global issue. Schools cannot succeed alone. One of the most interesting, yet simple, facts to help literacy is that reading needs to be fun.
During GloCon, we assembled 500 literacy kits for United Way—focusing on making reading fun. The literacy kits contained our favorite childhood book that every Sojernista donated and personally signed, fun activities, resources that families can utilize to access books during the summer months, and a neat bag to carry everything in. On June 21st, the United Way of the Midlands will be distributing a total of more than 1500 books to help local children enjoy reading, all included in the 500 literacy kits we completed.
On a personal note:
As a new Sojern employee, I was overwhelmed not only by the generosity of Sojern but the generosity of each and every employee. Sojern employees were only asked to donate a single book; however, many donated two or more books. My global colleagues even donated books in their local language, as well as English. And during the event, we all banded together to complete all of the kits in record time—even at times with our C-Suite sitting on the floor to help.
I am excited to see where and how we will meet our goal of 8000 volunteer hours.
Want to Get Involved?
Learn more about the challenges children in low-income families face when they are learning to read by watching this video produced by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading:
Find a United Way close to you here.