This entry was shortlisted in the 2012 Peer Award “Philanthropy” category
African School Building Project
CNN and Cartoon Network building schools in Africa
Turner Broadcasting is the company behind CNN, Cartoon Network and 35 channels throughout EMEA and we build a school in Africa with Plan International every year.
20 staff from our European offices raise £40,000 each time which pays for the local builders and materials and they then spend a week in the country helping them to build and getting to know the local community. So far we have built schools in Mali, Rwanda and Malawi and in 2012 we will be in Ethiopia.
Just the names Ethiopia and Rwanda are synonymous with the terrible problems caused by poverty and poor education and so providing good schooling for counties like these has a far greater impact than it would in more developed areas. The school buildings that we have built help provide education for generations of children and improve not only their life chances but those of everyone in the region. Plan International can provide evidence for this in each country but typically each school provides education for several hundred children each year as well as latrines, school equipment and teacher training.
Plan International devised this scheme especially for Turner and does not do it with any other organisations. They had identified the need and we worked together on devising a strategy to make it work successfully which involved CNN donating around £6 million pounds worth of airtime to the charity annually and has now developed into a very close working relationship which has expanded to include additional projects with our Spanish and Latin American operations. This Christmas our movie channel TCM is commercial free apart from its donated Plan promotions.
As this is an annual project we are able to hone and refine it each year. The first project was in Mali and the terrible state of the roads meant that there was an unplanned for five hour round trip to the building site every day! Staff were keen to meet the local children and one day gave out balloons which they found so exciting that one staff member was knocked down by about a hundred stampeding children. But mainly things have worked very well and we have built on the successes every year.
These schools totally transform the lives and prospects of the pupils and villages in the world’s poorest countries. They are there for the long term and we will carry on providing them annually in more and more countries so building a network of well educated people to improve the lives of people in Africa.
Nick Hart was appointed Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Turner Broadcasting System Europe, Africa and the Middle East in June 2006. His remit includes environmental, diversity, volunteering and charitable contributions for Turner’s brands which include CNN, TCM and Cartoon Network. He works closely with channel and department heads throughout the company and liaises with Turner in Atlanta, Time Warner in New York and its sister companies in the UK.
This is Nick’s third job at Turner where he was previously responsible for publicity for the entertainment channels and introduced such initiatives as Classic Shorts, which as part of the London Film Festival became one of the most important short film prizes in Europe.
He started his career as deputy editor of the film magazine Movie Star before launching corporate communications specialists WHD. He then moved to BSB (now BSkyB), Middle East Broadcasting and Channel One TV as head of PR and Corporate Affairs before joining Turner in 1999.
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