Business leaders recognized for partnering with education

A number of local businesses were honored Friday at the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business and Education Forum.

Area school districts and schools of higher education nominated for awards those businesses that have been donating cash, products, time and service to their institutions. These business partnerships have impacted thousands of children through Utah County.

“What is cool about this list, was all the different things all these businesses were doing, and how varied it was,” said Arthur Newell, senior vice president at Banner Bank and Chamber business education chairman, of the more than 70 different companies nominated for their work with local schools. He noted that businesses of all types — from local Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, to local family dentists — serve in so many ways, by donating money for science, technology, engineering and math programs to painting playgrounds, to regular volunteers who come in just to read with young students.

“There are a lot of great business and education partnerships going on in our community. That’s the purpose of what we wanted to do here, is bring to light some of those and encourage all of us to say, ‘Hey, I can do that,’” Newell concluded.

Just six of those many businesses earned Friday’s top honor: the 2017 Business Champion Award, and their services were as varied as their industries.

IM Flash earned the champion award for its donation of $150,000 to Alpine School District for a competitive math club in the upper grades. Kevin Driggs of IM Flash said his company feels this effort is very important to the future of education and the technology business.

“What we’ve learned is how important math is across every industry,” Driggs said of this program. “We wanted to make the math kids as cool as the football kids.”

Provo School District honored Briant Summerhays of Summerhays Music for his contribution to Centennial Middle School’s music programs. Centennial recently changed its daily scheduling, which required more class times overall. According to Kyle Bates, Centennial’s principal, the music programs at the school felt the pinch of this, because while it was great to open up more opportunities for band classes, there were not enough instruments to go around.

That’s where Summerhays stepped in, and Bates said it was in a big way.

“For great schools to do great things, we have to support from parents, from local business, from other community organizations, from government entities. Because what we’re engaged in is complicated enough, difficult enough, time consuming enough and expensive enough, that if we’re not reaching out and getting these partnerships and having support outside the school, we can’t do what we need to do for kids,” Bates said. “And we can’t be great without people like Briant Summerhays.”

Scott Barlow of Revere Health earned the Nebo School District Champion Award, partly for his efforts on the Nebo Foundation board for decades, but also for leading the charge for businesses in the Nebo district community to be “committed to kids,” as Rick Nielsen, Nebo superintendent, explained.

“Given the makeup of our district, it takes everybody rising up to make a difference for our children,” Nielsen said.

Mountainland Technical College honored Ken Garff Automotive Group for their work encouraging college students towards graduation. Clay Christensen, president of the college, also highlighted Ken Garff’s commitment to a newer program, Code to Success, which helps students learn coding.

NUVI earned the top honor from Utah Valley University for its efforts in the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, the new basketball practice center and the new social media command center. Scott Cooksey, vice president at UVU, said none of UVU’s exponential growth could happen without community members like NUVI helping out.

Finally, Molina Healthcare earned Brigham Young University’s top award for its partnering program that helped Timpanogos Elementary School students have all the supplies — from backpacks to pencils — they needed to start the new year.

“This has been a hard week for all of us, because we have seen some pretty ugly actions by some people. But when you come to a place like here, and you hear all the amazing things happening in our community — and companies and educators are coming together, it really inspires you to keep going, and to continue finding the goodness that is in our society,” said Lorena Riffo Jenson of Molina Healthcare.

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