Corporate Responsibility award entry

About Us
Yapı ve Kredi Bankası A.Ş:
Opening its doors as Turkey’s first nationwide Private Bank and attaining many revolutionary achievements in banking throughout its history, Yapi Kredi Bank is a large institution that has pioneered many banking services and products familiar to us today and for the future. Our Bank is the fourth biggest private bank in Turkey with inherent culture of customer-centric core banking focus, innovative banking technologies and sustainable value generation. With its 866 branches and approximately 19.000 employees across Turkey, it serves 91% of the country’s land mass, app. 13 million active customers.
Yapı Kredi Bank consistently endeavours to fulfill its obligations in fostering society’s continuous development by financially supporting and providing volunteers to accomplish Corporate Social Responsibility projects: primarily for education, the environment, culture and the arts.
– Yapı Kredi Banking Academy (YKBA), as the learning and development function of the organization took initiative in aligning its learning strategies with the business strategies. It is responsible for development activities for all employees of the Bank and its financial subsidiaries. Focusing on L&D activities under four areas; Banking, Personal Development, Leadership and Social Responsibility, it provides development programs designed and instructed by internal trainers, leading consultants and academicians to employees, their families, customers, university students, with the vision of being the leader development center where best bankers of sector are cultivated.
Social responsibility is one of the key pillars of YKBA since its foundation. Committed to giving back to the community, YKBA initiated several social responsibility projects within the organization.
Young Guru Academy (YGA):
YGA -Young Guru Academy- is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in Turkey in 2000. It aims to cultivate double winged youth – meaning both socially conscious and competent. Considerate of the problems of society they live in, YGA students develop international projects that would offer solutions. They become role models not just for the innovations but also for the culture of succeeding together in which innovations come to life.
The technology-based social innovations YGA students developed so far include:
o My Dream Companion platform, facilitating the lives of 200 thousand people with disabilities
o WeWalk, world’s smartest cane for the visually impaired
o TWIN Science Kits, making kids love science
o Know-How, the TV show that promotes science with entertaining experiments.
YGA has received 10 global awards in innovation and technology fields as of now.

Our Goal:
While there are many initiatives and efforts in Turkey to uphold child rights; child marriages, gender discrimination, child labor and the gaps in access to quality education still constitutes several challenges for vulnerable children from disadvantaged locations.
As Yapı Kredi and YGA Volunteers, we believe that the most important thing that we should wish for a child to have is equal opportunity in education.
The primary goal with the project “Science Migration to Anatolia” is to reach children across Turkey who are growing up deprived from science and technology and encourage them to learn and love science. In order to make our world a better place to live in, we must ensure no kid is left behind and ensure access to education for children from disadvantaged locations.
With this project we aim to;
– transform the perception of science in children from difficult, complicated and out of reach to simple, accessible and fun
– provide unprivileged students with access to same technological tools and resources that are easily available to students in private schools
– enable children to become future’s pioneering innovators in fields of science

Our Inspiration:
The project idea is developed getting inspired by the success story of Prof. Dr. Aziz Sancar, 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, who grew up as one of the eight children of an impoverished family living in a small southeastern Turkish town. Based on his quote “Doing science is not a matter of genetics or intelligence, but of tradition”, the project aims to establish a tradition in embracing science in Turkey.

Target Group:
The project targets 12-13-year-old students who live in Children Houses (special houses for children who live under state supervision as they lost their families or their families are not found suitable for childcare).
The project’s final objective is to reach 5.000 children in 50 cities until the end of 2019.

Project Details & Milestones:
Science Migration to Anatolia is a social development project initiated by Yapı Kredi Banking Academy (YKBA) in partnership with YKB’s dream partner Young Guru Academy (YGA). Aligned with its vision of being the leader development center where best bankers of the sector are cultivated, YKBA envisioned to develop its employees to be leaders of proven strength not only in banking but also in their personal competency, leadership vision and social sensitivity.
● July 2017: Pilot science sessions were hold in İstanbul and Ankara. Based on the evaluations of these sessions, the science session activities were identified.
● October 2017:
– Project Launch Meeting took place in İstanbul.
– Volunteer applications from YKB employees were collected online.
– The project management team is formed within the HR department.
● October 2017 – Present: Science sessions took place in Children Houses in various cities in Anatolia with participation of YKB and YGA volunteers.
● January 2018 – Development Camp was organized for selected children
● April 2018 – Video advertorial was released.
Started in July 2017 the project will continue until the end of 2019.

Science Sessions:
The program includes 3- hour science sessions during which Yapi Kredi Bank employees visit various cities across Turkey and volunteer to work with children who live under state provision. During the sessions, the children use a science kit called TWIN, developed by YGA volunteer engineers. TWIN Science Kits are made up of uniquely designed DIY Experiments. TWIN Science Kits use easily combined electronic blocks which are also compatible with LEGO and equivalent educational bricks, to simplify and explain how technological devices, that may at once seem complicated, actually work.
The twin kits offer hands-on playful learning tools and are simple to prepare and use during the science workshops. YKB volunteers assist children in setting experiments by providing them with the tools and by encouraging them to explore and mix these materials.
The volunteers ensure that the sessions take place in a safe and supportive environment, giving students the chance to take risks and learn from their mistakes. At the end of the sessions, children create simple machines such as autonomous cars, reading lamps, and alarm clocks. With the support of Yapı Kredi volunteers the children realized basic science ideas and how these apply regularly in people’s daily lives.
The essence of the project is not only teaching disadvantaged children the basics principles of science but also creating a shift in their mindsets. The activities are designed to tackle children’s prejudices towards science and help them to improve their self-confidence and assertiveness.

The teams involved in the project:
The project advisory board consists of internationally acknowledged scientists and experts such as Professor of Psychology Doğan Cuceloğlu, and Harvard University & MIT Professor of Biomedical Engineering Mehmet Toner. The advisory board enriched the project with their guidance on their specific areas of expertise.
YGA Volunteers: Volunteers are specifically selected for this project within YGA. This special group of volunteers is responsible for establishing and managing relationship with Children Houses as well as arranging the science sessions across Turkey.
Before science workshops start, YGA volunteers hold a brief orientation session where they introduce the TWIN kits and share tips and hints in approaching kids. They also support YKB volunteers during the science session activities.
Yapı Kredi Volunteers: Upon the launch of the project, YKBA made an announcement within the whole organization that “volunteers are needed” to visit various cities in Anatolia and facilitate science sessions for disadvantaged children. In total, app. 600 Yapı Kredi employees work around Turkey, expressed their interest in the project and applied to volunteer. Prior to their visits the volunteers are provided with an information kit to orient them for the session. Besides the YKB volunteers visiting various cities in Anatolia for science sessions, Yapı Kredi Bank have, a professional team of volunteers from HR Department dedicated themselves to the project management activities. The HR volunteers promote the project through managing communication with various stakeholders, such as YKB employees and volunteers, YGA project team, and Corporate Communications department of the Bank. The project management team meets regularly every week to monitor the progress and focus continuous improvement.

Achievements: An effective, innovative and inspirational CSR Project
Between October and December 2017, 60 YKB volunteers joined science sessions and reached 214 children in 8 cities (Gaziantep, Çanakkale, Adana, İzmir, Kayseri, Ankara, Denizli and İstanbul). From the beginning of 2018 to date, 31 YKB volunteers visited 4 more cities (İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, and Adana) and reached 72 children. The main objective is to reach 5.000 children in 50 cities.
The project created a great value and impact in our target group of children and our own organization. The evidence collected during the project lifetime proved that kids who participated in the science sessions feel more confident and optimistic for future success and thinks that science is not indeed that hard. Creating this impact would not be possible without our Yapı Kredi volunteers who wholeheartedly engage in this project. The biggest strength of this project is to have an inclusive strategy where the volunteers can see the big picture and realize they are a part of it. We are thrilled to observe the positive impacts of this project on employee engagement and corporate culture.
This is a unique project developed by considering specific needs of disadvantaged children. The sessions are designed in an innovative nature to better meet children’s needs and prepare YKB volunteers for possible challenges they might face during volunteer experience. While the easy-to-use Twin kits enable children to complete D-I-Y science experiments, well oriented YKB volunteers facilitate this process for children.
We are delighted to observe that our communication strategy attracted attention inside and outside the organization and inspired several parties to volunteer. Other organizations can easily adapt a similar strategy to initiate their CSR projects or enhance the existing ones. Similarly, forming internal groups responsible for project management and improvement would bring a great strength for sustainability of the project.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://thepeerawards.com/wp-content/uploads/formidable/198/Presentation_ABG_24.05.2018.pdf”]

Facts & Figures
From October to December 2017, we reached 214 students in 8 cities (İstanbul, Ankara, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Denizli, İzmir, Çanakkale, Adana) with the support of 60 Yapı Kredi Volunteers. In 2018 the science sessions re-started in March and until now we reached 72 students in 4 cities with the participation of 31 Yapı Kredi Volunteers. The plan is to visit 20 more cities in 2018 and 22 cities in 2019 to reach our main dream of reaching 5.000 students in 50 cities.

Benefits of the Science Sessions for Children
● Helped them understand basic science concepts and principles as well as their application to daily life
● Tackled their prejudices towards science and have them realize science is not difficult to understand but accessible and fun
● Helped to cultivate love of science and technology in these children
● Stimulated their natural curiosity to explore
● Inspired their creativity
● Guided them in completing concrete science projects and create simple machines such as autonomous cars, reading lamps, and alarm clocks
● Improved their self-confidence and assertiveness
● Prepared them to explore future’s occupations in fields of science and technology.

The evidence of the impact that this project created on the target students were collected through two complimentary methods.

First, during the pilot sessions the children were asked to fill out a self-evaluation questionnaire. The questionnaire included the below items;
● Love of science: “I think science concepts are easy to understand and fun”
● Hope: I feel more optimistic that I can achieve things in the future
● Self-Confidence: I believe I can learn new things that I don’t know very well and get better at them without quitting.
● Achieving Together: I started getting fun by achieving together
● Unifying Attitude: I do not discriminate and judge others based on their thoughts and beliefs
● Assertiveness: I do not hesitate to take initiative and try new things.

Results proved that 97% of students expressed improvements in the above mentioned developmental areas.

As we continued to hold science sessions in various cities, we have decided to collect students’ reactions and feedback at the end of each science session. Facilitated by YGA and YKBA volunteers, students discussed what they have learned and how they have felt during the sessions.
Here you can find a selection of testimonials we received from the participant students.

● “Today is the day I get to know what is science. I am so glad you visited us. Thanks a lot”
Bahar, Çanakkale Children House

● “In the beginning of the session, I thought I can’t do this. Still I had too much fun. I have realized today that we shouldn’t be afraid of failure and keep trying all the time”
Emine, Kayseri Children House

● The volunteers who visited us were very knowledgeable and fun. Just like them, I would like to work in volunteer projects in the future.
Yasin, Children House

● “You listened our dreams and cared for them. Now I believe more that I can reach my own dreams”
Hüseyin, Gaziantep Children House

We believe that raising open-minded and self-confident children who are interested in positive sciences, will create a great impact in our community and country in the near future. In order to observe the long term impacts of the project on the target communities, we plan to follow up selected participant children during their high school years. These students will be supported with development camps, entrepreneurship trainings and mentorship.

Benefits to our Organization
● Increased employee engagement and boosted employee morale: We observed several positive effects of this project on work engagement and job satisfaction of volunteers.
● Improved internal communication and synergy between business lines: YKB volunteers from various departments with different roles team up during the Science Sessions. These volunteer experiences became a great way for our employees to work together outside of the Office and build relationships and improved cross-business unit collaboration
● Increased customer satisfaction:We received several emails and phone calls from our external and internal customers that congratulate us for initiating this Project.
● Positive effect on brand image: Today customers are becoming more concerned with the social impact created by organizations. Based on the positive comments we received on social media channels we observed that Science Migration to Anatolia Project has become a strong tool to enhance our brand image.

Although there have been several initiatives to help children access to quality STEM education, Science Migration to Anatolia project designed a unique, tailor-made program to meet vulnerable children’s needs. There are three dimensions that makes this project stand out and helped us overcome various challenges.

1. Shifting Mindsets
The project is innovative in the way that it not only aims to teach disadvantaged children basics of science and how to carry on science experiments, but also aims a shift in their mindset.
● “Science is hard. It’s beyond me”.
● Don’t touch it you’ll break it”
● Don’t touch, electric can shock you”
These notions, engrained in the minds of many children, are a major roadblock to the understanding and appreciation of science. The program is designed to tackle these negative prejudices towards science and aims to transform the perception of science in children from difficult, complicated and out of reaches to simple, accessible and fun.

The volunteers have an important role in motivating children to excel in the experiments and inspire their ongoing curiosity. When performing experiments children realize that it is not that hard to understand the mechanisms behind the machines that seem complicated at first sight.
They engage in fun and exciting hands on learning experiences. In a safe and supportive environment, they take risks and learn from their mistakes without fear of failure.
The volunteers facilitate this process by applying coaching skills. In other words; they don’t judge the children nor build the experiments on behalf of them. Instead they support students with asking powerful questions to have them understand why their experiment failed and what else they could do to succeed.

2. Twin Science Kits
The twin science kit is another innovative dimension of this project that serve as an instrument in facilitating science sessions. Designed and developed by YGA volunteer engineers, the easy to apply and fun structure of TWIN Science kits boost children STEM skills. TWIN Science Kits use easily combined electronic blocks which are also compatible with LEGO and equivalent educational bricks, to simplify and explain how technological devices, that may at once seem complicated, actually work. Children can make flashlights, alarms, reading lamps and other such gadgets they use in their daily lives with TWIN Modules. They can also use TWIN modules and sensors to make and understand technology such as self-propelled cars and robots, which may seem complicated and overwhelming. In so doing, TWIN supports innovation-focused thinking and simplifies product development along with manufacturing to help children carry out their dreams and projects.

These kits enabled children to;
-Discover the logic of devices that we use in our daily life
-See the actual easiness of the electrical systems which seem very complicated
-Carry out the experiments they wonder
-Dream of the projects which can change the world.

3. Orientation for YKB Volunteers
Spending time with vulnerable children is an invaluable experience for volunteers that might also be challenging in certain circumstances. Our main priority is to safeguard the emotional and physical wellbeing of these children.
To ensure that YKB volunteers who work with vulnerable children have been properly prepared for the science sessions, we provide them with tools and resources.

● A video clip is filmed by psychologist and author Prof. Doğan Cüceloğlu, who is also in the boarding committee of this project. In this 5-minute video Prof. Cüceloğlu provides clear advice for the volunteers in their interaction with children. He shares tips for establishing a positive, caring and respectful relationship with children.

● We believe that volunteers need to be aware of the responsibilities and boundaries in their interactions with children. Therefore, we send informative emails to guide them in dress-code, importance of punctuality, and so forth.

● YKB volunteers are also invited to a brief orientation speech at the beginning of the science sessions where YGA volunteers introduce the TWIN Kits and share tips and hints to prepare them for the session.

Encouraging a Volunteering Culture Inside and Outside
The program is available to all Yapi Kredi Bank employees across Turkey. While many organizations have volunteer programs, our biggest strength was to encourage YKB volunteers to feel belong to this project.
Undoubtedly, every single volunteer experience is an opportunity for a volunteer to enrich himself or herself. That being said, we believe that it is powerful to make sure everyone volunteering on a corporate social responsibility project sees the big picture. When volunteers know how what they are doing fits into the overall project goal, they can better perform their parts.

In order to achieve this, we employed an inclusive and transparent communication strategy. A group of volunteers within the HR department dedicated themselves to the project management activities. The main responsibilities of this internal group includes but not limited to recruiting new volunteers, serving as a point of contact for volunteers’ questions, sending detailed information regarding to the science session visits, managing communication with YGA and Corporate Communications department of Yapı Kredi Bank, and develop key ideas to improve volunteering engagement and effectiveness.

After each science session visit, the project management team connected with the volunteers to receive their feedback and suggestions for the future implementation. Similarly, our project team shared important milestones, recent achievements and new plans with all YKB volunteers periodically.

Being involved in this powerful experience, Yapı Kredi Bank employees are inspired to volunteer and they are motivated to support educating the community. We are thrilled to receive feedbacks by YKB volunteers that they feel more engaged to our organization. Several volunteers also shared with us that, being a part of this project boosted their performance at work. Please watch the attached video to learn more about YKB volunteers’ testimonials.

Our inclusive and open communication strategy can be easily adapted to other CSR projects conducted in various organizations. This strategy will improve volunteer engagement and inspire employees to spare time to volunteer. Forming an internal group within the organization for project management activities is also an important strategy to ensure the sustainability of CSR projects.

Science Migration to Anatolia Project is a source of inspiration not only for YKB Volunteers but also for several parties including our customers, employees of group companies, students and so forth. Upon releasing our video advertorial, we have received a great number of phone calls and emails. Besides appreciation of our efforts, the main theme in these reach outs was how they are inspired and motivated to volunteer.

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