As a good corporate citizen, ALTANA supports and sponsors social projects focusing on education, science, and research. To strengthen our local environments and to be a good neighbor, we especially promote initiatives near our sites in Germany and abroad.
The natural sciences, mathematics, informatics, and technology are among the drivers of economic development and social progress around the world. In this context, ALTANA sees itself as having a responsibility to introduce young people to these disciplines at an early stage and to kindle their enthusiasm for them. In cooperation with experienced partners from the education sector, the ALTANA Group supports concrete projects, often in the immediate proximity of ALTANA’s sites. To maximize lasting impact, the company usually promotes these projects over a period of several years.
Educational Coaching of Elementary School Children
In 2016, ALTANA sponsored the so-called educational coaching of schoolchildren at the Elementary School GGS Innenstadt in Wesel for the third year in a row. Initiated by the City of Wesel and implemented by the Klausenhof Academy, the coaching helps advance elementary school children from educationally deprived classes to sustainably improve their development opportunities and school careers. In their free time, volunteer mentors give the children individual supervision.
In the last three years, ALTANA has financed the personnel and material costs for a socio-educational expert and will continue to do so in the next three years. The social education worker assigns a “personal mentor” to each child, trains the mentors, and coordinates their work. Apart from individual activities carried out by the mentors and children (for instance library visits or excursions), the educational coaching also includes group events. In 2015, one such event was a research afternoon at ALTANA where the children had the opportunity to conduct their own experiments on the topic of volcanoes with the help of food products. Inspired by their newly acquired knowledge, the children decided to repeat this series of experiments at their school, organizing a “research day” for these experiments in 2016.
Junior Researchers Visit ALTANA
Furthering children and adolescents’ scientific knowledge has a tradition at ALTANA. For example, employees of BYK-Chemie at our Wesel site have worked as school ambassadors for many years. Over time, comparable initiatives were launched at ALTANA’s sites in Widnes, Great Britain, and Grevenbroich, Germany.
In Wesel, BYK works with two elementary schools (GGS Feldmark and GGS Konrad Duden), as well as the German Red Cross (DRK) daycare center Abenteuerland in the so-called “House of Junior Researchers.” The concept includes special research days with the school ambassadors. Once a year, the 300 participating children and their parents come to the ALTANA conference center to present the results of their work or experiments. In 2016, the subjects of water and communication were the focal points.
At the Widnes site, the cooperation with local schools consisted of several components. First, an employee of BYK Additives acting as a so-called governor helped sixth graders construct solar panels. Second, 90 students visited the site within the framework of their science program. And third, employees informed the students about scientific training and career possibilities at two national events (Science at Work Week and Industry Day).
In 2015, ACTEGA Rhenania employees offered preschool children at our Grevenbroich site the chance to experiment with adhesives and paints. In 2016, they organized three seminars for tenth graders in which the latter had the opportunity to make packaging coatings themselves.
Competition for Young People
With regard to promoting students at the upper secondary level, ALTANA focused on already established cooperative ventures in 2016. For instance, the company offered a special prize in chemistry at the “Jugend grundet” (Youth Startups) competition last year for the second time. In addition, ALTANA participated in the Germany-wide “CEO for 1 Day” student campaign again.
In the multistage “Jugend grundet” competition, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, a group from the Romain Rolland high school in Berlin won the special prize in chemistry for their “GreenSilicon” business plan, which consists of a sustainable recycling concept that would enable silicon to be economically recycled for the first time. The prize included a five-day trip to the East Coast of the U.S. during which the students visited one of the ALTANA Group’s largest research and production sites, in Wallingford at BYK USA, in the fall of 2016.
The objective of the “CEO for 1 Day” campaign is to reduce prejudices and distance between schools and business. In a first step, the school classes selected had the opportunity to get to know management board members of the participating companies in personal talks. In this framework, the CEO of ALTANA AG, Martin Babilas, answered questions posed by students at Gerresheim high school in Dusseldorf in June 2016. In a second step, the participants completed a two-day casting in the form of a professional management audit to qualify for the CEO position. From the Dusseldorf high school, Shiva Mobini-Tehrani convinced the jury of experts and exchanged her school desk for the executive chair at ALTANA for a day on November 3, 2016.
Further Training for Teachers
In 2016, ALTANA sponsored further training geared specifically to science teachers for the first time. Organized by the “Schule MIT Wissenschaft” (School MIT Science) initiative, a three-day conference in Hamburg, whose slogan was “Begeisterer begeistern” (Inspire Inspirators), enabled educators to exchange experiences and to gain new scientific knowledge. Without the support of sponsors such as ALTANA, the top-class event featuring Nobel Prize winners and several other scientists could not have been realized.
German Courses for Refugees
ALTANA supports the integration of refugees in Germany by sponsoring a concept for German language training developed by the charity organization Malteser Werke. The latter received funding of 250,000 euros from ALTANA via the relief coalition “Aktion Deutschland Hilft”. Moreover, at the Wesel site, ALTANA donations help fund a German literacy course called into being by a local refugee aid organization in cooperation with the Wesel Volkshochschule (adult education center) and the Catholic Education Forum Wesel. The aim of the 500-hour course is to teach the participants to read and write in addition to learning the new language. More information can be found on German Lessons from the Very Beginning.
Promoting Students in Brazil and Malawi
Our cooperation with the nonprofit organization Passo Fundo e.V. has proven successful over many years. In 2016, ALTANA once again provided university scholarships for talented students who cannot afford to study, three in Brazil and two in Malawi. In exchange, the young people agree to become involved in a social project.
ALTANA supports employees who want to work on a volunteer basis in areas where this is meaningful and realizable. At our St. Louis site, the management promotes such commitment in daily work. For example, employees can agree to make monthly donations to United Way Worldwide each year. The money is taken from the staff members’ salaries and subsequently topped up by the company. In addition, they have various options for making project-related monetary or material donations each month. The resulting contributions add up to around 500 U.S. dollars a month. The money was allocated, for example, to the local section of the American Lung Association or the American Red Cross. Some employees again helped pack food packages on the annual St. Louis World Food Day.
Donations for Nepal
Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, ALTANA Group employees donated a total of 25,000 euros, which the company doubled to 50,000 euros. ALTANA provided this money to “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” to help finance the work of the aid organization “arche noVa” in a large community consisting of nine villages in the mountains north of Kathmandu.
The aid organization used the money to rebuild Janaki elementary school in the main town, which was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Given the logistical challenge that the steep, difficult-to-access region poses regarding transport of construction material and heavy machinery, the aid organization decided to erect the building utilizing prefabricated elements used in industrial construction around the world. The comparably inexpensive sandwich panels have a number of advantages: They are easy to carry and assemble and join together into a stable, earthquake-resistant building. Today, the elementary school students can study again in the rebuilt school with its three classrooms. They use the collected rainwater for washing their hands and for flushing the toilets, which were also completely reconstructed.