Boeing volunteers help equip students for success in school

September 08, 2022 in Community

When Adam Esposito, a Boeing procurement analyst, showed up to help pack school supplies with other Mesa, Arizona, employees, he immediately realized his Lean Six Sigma project-management skills could be applied to volunteer work, too.

“I talked to the other volunteers to find out who was doing what, and assessed the situation to find the holes in the process,” Esposito explained. “I determined the best place for me was running support — organizing, preparing bags, running quality checks. I was able to assist the primary bag packers so they could focus on completing each bag with equal quantities of supplies.”

Esposito’s efforts, combined with those of his Mesa colleagues, really paid off. The site, through donations and volunteer time, provided backpacks filled with school supplies to 90 students at six schools in the Phoenix area. 

“I really enjoyed this volunteer event because I got to do it with Boeing peers and non-Boeing volunteers, making it a fun interaction with a diverse community, in a time where we have been much more isolated than prior to the pandemic,” Esposito said. 

This volunteer event was part of Boeing’s annual Liftoff for Learning back-to-school drive. Several Boeing sites held similar packing and distribution events — all with the goal of helping students start the school year with the supplies they need to succeed. 

In total, Boeing employees across the U.S. — with a boost from the Boeing Gift Match Program — donated more than $154,000 and volunteered more than 350 hours during the drive. 

“I saw how grateful the schools were for the supplies, but I also saw how many more opportunities there are to help,” said Maximo De La Cruz, Liftoff for Learning drive lead for the Mesa site.

Support for students in our communities is especially important this year. The newly released National Assessment of Educational Progress, a Department of Education assessment of math and reading skills for fourth-graders, shows a drastic drop in test scores — the worst in decades and a direct result of disruptions in learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

School supplies, even as simple as pens, pencils and paper, are vital for students’ success; and, in underserved communities, the need is even greater.

“Communities are still struggling, and we want to be a continuing source of hope and support, especially in underserved communities,” said Cheri Carter, vice president of Boeing Global Engagement. “That is why our employee-led drives like Liftoff for Learning are so important. It is a way for all of us to get involved and give back in a meaningful way and to ensure that all students have the tools they need to thrive. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who donated this year. You are truly making a difference.”   

In Chicago, employees donated enough to fill 775 backpacks with school supplies, which were distributed at a local back-to-school parade in Chicago and to students in Gary, Indiana. 

Employees in San Antonio, Texas, helped supply Kelly Elementary School with 231 school supply kits. In Puget Sound, money raised during the drive supported nonprofit partners including Page Ahead, which provides access to new books and develops reading activities that empower at-risk children.

“I think Boeing employees will probably never know just how much they are appreciated” said Susan Dibble, executive director of Page Ahead. “Their support through the Liftoff for Learning drive helps children become strong independent readers, and makes it possible for parents to have great books at home to read with their kids. We are so grateful for the generosity shown to our students and families by Boeing employees. Thank you!”

Boeing offers an industry-leading gift match program to enhance employee giving and volunteerism, providing a dollar-for-dollar match for eligible charitable donations and matching funds for eligible volunteer time.

“Whether you’re bringing your work experience, education or personal skillset, I really think the biggest thing we can do for our community right now is to show up,” Esposito said.