Mike Newman

Advancing Access

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Over the years, the Carlson School and the Travelers Foundation have developed a strong and lasting partnership. Given the foundation’s commitment to education, it’s not hard to see why. The Travelers Foundation devotes 70 percent of its giving in the Twin Cities to education, particularly to opening college doors for historically underrepresented groups. By focusing on academic excellence for all children and youth, from preschool through college, it aims to help prepare the future workforce.

Travelers views the Carlson School as a key partner. One reason: the Carlson School is a leading source of Travelers’ new hires. “It’s also one of the preeminent business schools in the country, so it’s an opportunity to partner with an institution that brings a lot to the table,” says Travelers Foundation Vice President Mike Newman. “Together we can explore some of the connections between academics and work readiness.”

In addition to providing scholarships and funding initiatives such as GopherBusiness (formerly the Leadership Access Program), Travelers supports Carlson’s Edge Venture program. About 15 first-generation college students, many of whom are from low-income or diverse families, participate in this business challenge. Travelers presents the students with an internal problem or potential business opportunity, and the students work with professors and industry experts to develop a solution. Students gain the experience of problem solving or researching future ventures, while also showing off their talents to Travelers employees.

It’s all part of Travelers’ overall goal to help students from diverse backgrounds, income levels, and ethnic groups excel in school, earn college degrees, and ultimately land good jobs. “We really see the investment in education as an investment in our future workforce and the health of our business and the health of the overall community,” says Newman. “Our businesses and communities depend on having an educated population.”