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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Obama Meets ATT, Time Warner Cable CEOs on Education; to help the unemployed, returning veterans and people with disabilities : July 19, 2011

President Barack Obama held a roundtable discussion with business leaders including Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt, AT&T Inc. (T) CEO Randall Stephenson, and AOL Inc. (AOL) co-founder Steve Case, to discuss how industry-led partnerships can help improve the U.S. education system.

“Our children are the future,” said Alma Powell, who started the youth-advocacy group America’s Promise Alliance with her husband, former Secretary of State Colin Powell. “If they are not prepared for the future, there is no future for this country,” she said.

Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in former President George H.W. Bush’s administration, said he told the CEOs at today’s meeting that education is crucial for the U.S. because “these youngsters are your future employees and your future customers.”

He said that while he appreciates the monetary pledges from companies, including more than $10 million annually already committed by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co, money won’t fix the problem.

“More important to me and to my wife and to the programs is that every State Farm agent, every State Farm office is involved in their community,” he said. “What we need is retail level connection between every aspect of the business community and the kids who are in those communities that are in need. We want your personal involvement, we want your human involvement.”

Money Pledged
At today’s meeting, Bank of America Corp. (BAC), based in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced a $50 million pledge over the next three years to help the unemployed, returning veterans and people with disabilities get connected with institutions, including community colleges, to help them learn skills and enter the workforce.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), of Redmond, Washington, pledged to invest $15 million in research and development in learning technology, and a commitment to train more than 150,000 educators and leaders over the next three years.

Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike Inc. (NKE), the world’s largest sportswear company, is adding $3 million to an existing $7 million fund designed to aid schools in Oregon.

“This is a defining moment,” said Accenture Plc (ACN)’s Chairman William Green. “The outside world has raised the bar, it’s our job to raise our game.”

Chief Executives
Among those at today’s meeting were: Craig Barrett, former CEO of Santa Clara, California-based Intel Corp. (INTC); Ed Rust, CEO of Bloomington, Illinois-based State Farm; Bill Swanson, CEO of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Co. (RTN); and David Zaslav, CEO of Silver Spring, Maryland-based Discovery Communications Inc. (DISCA)

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan; senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett; and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes also were among those attending.

“We have to educate our way to a better economy,” Duncan said.

Obama has said future U.S. economic growth depends on improvements in education. He has called for the U.S. to have the world’s highest percentage of adults with college degrees by 2020.

# BLOOMBERG News Service : By Kate Andersen Brower - July 19, 2011

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at kandersen7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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