Trucks with logos from the local cable operator are a common sight in many communities. But every October, Comcast employees flood into the streets of their communities for Comcast Cares Day. Last year, more that 25,000 employees and their families turned out for a day of volunteer work at nonprofits in 228 communities in 33 states. Besides the 225,000 hours of volunteer work they provided, Comcast also contributed nearly $1.2 million to 228 local organizations recommended by its employees.
The difficulty of putting a dollar value on such volunteer work is one reason Comcast doesn't compile a total value of its public-service efforts. But there is little doubt that they are large and ongoing, continuing long after Comcast Cares Day.
The Comcast Foundation has given more than $12 million in grants since it was established in 1999, providing over $8 million last year, and its free PSAs "are worth millions and millions of dollars," notes Diane Tuppeny-Hess, vice president and executive director of the foundation. "We want our programs to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve."
Like other cable operators, Comcast's community-service efforts are decentralized and grow out of a long commitment to public service. Company founder Ralph Roberts began encouraging volunteerism in the 1950s.
Dave Breidinger, a 25-year veteran who is now vice president of government and regulatory affairs at the Eastern division, remembers that Comcast devoted an entire annual report to the subject in the early 1980s.
Those efforts took a major leap forward with the establishment of the Comcast Foundation in 1999 and the acquisition of the AT&T systems in 2002. Today, the country's largest cable operator is involved in a wide range of local activities with United Way and scores of other charities and causes.
Tuppeny-Hess adds, however, that the company focuses on four main areas: volunteer activities, free PSAs, programs to encourage literacy and learning, and initiatives to develop the leadership potential of young people.