Giving is a familiar word for Cox Communications. As a family owned and operated business, now in its fourth generation of family leadership, Cox Communications is deeply committed to founder James M. Cox’s wish for continued investment in and ongoing giving to the community. With giving focused primarily on youth, education, and diversity, it seems only natural that Cox would partner with the SBCC Foundation to provide scholarships for SBCC students. “Giving to the SBCC Foundation, and specifically providing scholarships for young people is a no-brainer for us,” said Cox Market Vice President Kirsten McLaughlin. “Through the foundation, we are investing in the future of our community through our students.”
An important component of Cox’s corporate giving is to support science and technology education programs. The organization was especially excited to design scholarships through the SBCC Foundation that were specifically geared toward local students with majors incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), STEAM (STEM plus the arts), and entrepreneurship courses of study. “As a company, part of the reason why we invest in youth and education is that we want to help build the community,” said Kirsten. “SBCC students are our future customers, our future workforce, and the strength and vitality of our community. We want to build resources by investing in the leaders of tomorrow.”
In addition to scholarships, Kirsten felt it was important for Cox to join the foundation’s Visionaries Circle. Members of the Visionaries Circle see the value of higher education, and know the power of student success to impact the community. They see the potential their investment will have for SBCC and its students. They know that their support enables the foundation to raise the dollars necessary to ensure SBCC remains an extraordinary institution of higher learning with opportunity for all. “Being a part of the Visionaries Circle means we are supporting foundation staff so that they can be out there having important community conversations, creating collaborations, and building relationships,” said Kirsten.
With a strong corporate giving program in place, the company still wanted to do more, so it started Cox Charities (formerly Cox Cares) in Santa Barbara in 2012 as an employee-run foundation. Employees have the option to designate donations through their paychecks, which the company then matches. Cox Charities relies on an all-employee board to make grantmaking and giving decisions. Mostly focused on youth, education, and conservation, Cox Charities tailors its giving to local needs providing scholarships, nonprofit grants, and volunteer hours in the community.
Additionally, Cox provides low cost internet for families with students in K-12 who are either on the free lunch program or who get some type of public housing assistance through the Connect2Compete program. Cox has been working with SBCC to get the word out to working parents taking classes at the college who may qualify.
Cox’s top priorities remain its employees, its customers, and the community. Partnerships with institutions like the SBCC Foundation are tangible examples of Cox’s commitment to Santa Barbara and its residents. “I can think of so many ways the college touches the community,” said Kirsten. “From students looking to earn degrees, transfer to four-year universities, or expand their horizons through the Center for Lifelong Learning to those community members who see plays on campus or have dinner in the Gourmet Dining Room. Santa Barbara City College is a vital asset, and a community jewel.”
Author: Jessica Tade