For the past two years Deloitte has partnered with The United Way to offer a community outreach program called Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break. Last year, 80 student participants spent their spring break with 35 Deloitte professionals and 10 United Way leaders in Houston, TX, helping communities recovering from hurricane damage by rebuilding and repairing homes and community centers.
This year the program was expanded to include two sites and featured a partnership with private educational organization and AmeriCorps affiliate, Teach For America. TFA offers two-year contracts to college graduates who volunteer to teach in schools serving low income urban or rural populations.
The second session of the Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break program was held last week, March 14–18, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with Deloitte and TFA co-hosting 25 students from six colleges and universities along with 20 professionals from Deloitte and TFA. Student participants were chosen from among the applicants by Deloitte recruiters. TFA selected the community educational outreach opportunities.
After completing an application process which included submitting an essay, students were selected to accompany Deloitte accounting professionals and recruiting professionals to Baton Rouge, where the participants assisted in two schools: Jackson Elementary School and Jackson Middle school. Both schools boast a former Teach for America volunteer as their current principle. According to Deloitte's promotional material for the Maximum Impact program, students attending these schools face the challenges of educational inequity. Educational inequity is the principle that affirms that where a child is born determines his or her educational outcomes and life prospects.
The Deloitte volunteer students were separated into teams, each of which included Deloitte professionals as well as a professional from Teach For America. Each team spent four days on-site at one of the schools, providing a variety of support and covering a wide range of academic and infrastructure projects including such activities as in-class support, preparation of in-class materials, painting and refurbishing school facilities, and even cataloging and shelving books in a school library.
The college students and the Deloitte professionals interacted in the project work environment as well as in daily shared dinners and combined progress presentations in which the various teams reported to each other on successes and challenges of the day.
Angie Deng, a college student from the honors business program at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin, said that it was it was "a very fulfilling spring break." Although she is from Louisiana, she was "impressed with what I learned about the education system and about the disparities within it." Deng also said that she was "deeply impressed with the depth of the Deloitte corporate culture of commitment to community service projects," especially as exemplified by the Deloitte professionals with whom she worked during the week.
Diane Borhani, director of campus recruiting for Deloitte, said one of the advantages of the various Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break programs is the ability to provide an environment in which prospective candidates "see and experience" Deloitte's commitment to its corporate culture of community involvement, "rather than just being told about it."
The previous week, March 6–12, the United Way and Deloitte teamed up for the third consecutive year of their Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break partnership by providing a community experience for approximately 50 college students and 20 Deloitte professionals in the Atlanta, Georgia area. There, teams of seven or eight students, each team working with Deloitte professionals and United Way representatives, tackled such tasks as "clean-ups, wheel chair accessibility, student center projects, and interactive math projects in 41 classrooms," according to Deloitte's partner sponsor for the Atlanta project, Pam Blackburn.
As part of the recruiting program at Deloitte, each week Deloitte professionals updated a Twitter feed, available to prospective recruits, with an eye toward giving them a window into the day-to-day life of the company. During the week of the Atlanta Maximum Impact, Blackburn, who is a Deloitte partner in assurance and advisory services, was the designated tweeter and provided tweets to prospective Deloitte recruits about the Atlanta project's activities. The goal was to emphasize, in one neat package, not only the Deloitte corporate commitment to community service and dedication of its professionals to that culture, but also the high-tech savvy of both its innovative recruiting and community service programs.