Class Act: Employee Resource Group Helps Students Go Back to School

four people in front of a car loaded with donations

Going back to school was a little bit easier this year for hundreds of kids, parents and teachers in Warner Robins, Georgia, thanks to their Northrop Grumman neighbors.

The local Connect1NG Employee Resource Group (ERG,) whose aim is to create a diverse environment that promotes inclusion in the workplace and community, sought donations of classroom supplies or funds from colleagues, then went shopping. They delivered everything to Pearl Stephens Elementary School on the Friday before the fall semester started and helped set up a “store” in one of the classrooms. Kids were able to pick out their own crayons, pencils, notebooks, and more.

“That classroom was full,” said Steven, vice chair of Warner Robins’ Connect1NG chapter. There are more than 400 employees at the site, and they had filled donation bins at their five buildings multiple times over the two-week drive. “I’m thankful to work in an environment where folks give so much and aren’t just allowed to help but feel encouraged to help the community.”

Steven is an Environmental, Health and Safety engineer who joined Northrop Grumman just six months ago after retiring from 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, most recently at nearby Robins Air Force Base. During onboarding, he heard about the company’s support for ERGs and their activities. It reminded him of the sense of mission he felt in the Air Force, and he immediately joined C1NG.

“It’s a way of continuing to serve, to continue feeling like part of a bigger team,” Steven said.

“It means a lot that I work for a company that not only invests in me, but in my community.”

Katy, Connect1NG member

Many of his colleagues clearly feel the same way. There are over a dozen Northrop Grumman Employee Resource Groups, and more than 25,000 of Northrop Grumman’s 95,000 employees are involved in one or more of their over 270 chapters worldwide. Their commitment to service and support for communities of all kinds is one of the reasons Northrop Grumman is consistently ranked among the top companies nurturing a diverse and inclusive workplace.

several people lined up in a classroom filled with donations

The Warner Robins team’s back-to-school mission began in July, when the work/life balance dance was speeding up for Katy, an administrative assistant for Northrop Grumman’s Global Sustainment and Modernization division. She was extra busy getting everything together for her 5-year-old son’s first day of kindergarten and thought about how scarce time and other resources can be; about how much of a struggle this time of year must be for some moms, dads, families, and teachers. She wanted to help.

Katy is membership chair on the C1NG chapter’s board, which wholeheartedly approved a school supplies drive. The Houston County School District supplied a list of deserving campuses, but the ERG couldn’t support them all. How could they choose?

They turned to board secretary Jen, their only member without a child in the school system. Jen randomly chose Pearl Stephens Elementary – but others will tell you it wasn’t random at all, it was more like Providence.

Pearl Stephens Elementary is a Title I school, which receives federal funds to help meet education needs because a high percentage of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The heavy boxes of school supplies delivered by the Northrop Grumman team were much appreciated.

“We were met by so many of the amazing staff,” Katy said. “We were almost in tears hearing about the difference this could make and the impact on these students.”

She is happy Northrop Grumman employees and ERGs are not just permitted to take on projects like this, they are encouraged to help.

“It means a lot that I work for a company that not only invests in me, but in my community. This is where I live, where I’m raising my son,” Katy said. “It’s important to me that these are our company’s values.”

woman in blue clean suit

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