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A Different Kind of Pipeline: ExxonMobil Foundation Donates Record Matching Gift

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Every Longhorn knows there are at least a million reasons to support UT. So it was a natural fit when the university joined with ExxonMobil to challenge the company’s employees and retirees to reach the $1 million mark in earned matching funds for a single year.

The campaign, dubbed A Million Horns, surpassed its goal in 2012 when individual donations drew a matching gift of $1.2 million, the largest amount the ExxonMobil Foundation awarded to any university that year and its largest yet to UT at the time. The amounts have grown steadily since. The 2015 match, announced in May, reached a new high of nearly $1.5 million.


Along with the company’s match, employee and retiree donations totaled more than $2 million.


“Our employees care about education and make it an investment priority year after year,” says ExxonMobil Foundation President Suzanne McCarron, who has a son on campus majoring in economics. “We’re proud that we have such a long and solid record in supporting The University of Texas.”

In addition to matching its employees’ and retirees’ donations, the Texas-based oil and gas giant has demonstrated its commitment to improving U.S. math and science education — and ensuring a strong supply of potential future employees — by contributing to the Women in Engineering Program and others at the Cockrell School that increase opportunity.

Likewise, the company was a founding donor for GeoFORCE Texas, an innovative outreach program in the Jackson School of Geosciences.

GeoFORCE is a collaboration among UT faculty and research scientists, K-12 educators, and professional geologists. It takes high school students from disadvantaged areas in Houston and rural Southwest Texas on field trips to geologically significant sites, showing them a world far removed from their everyday environment.

GeoFORCE students admire the view during down time on a field trip.

Eleventh graders take in the view on a GeoFORCE field trip to Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park.

Now in its 10th year, GeoFORCE has been a robust success, serving more than 1,500 students so far, with 96 percent going on to college and 16 percent majoring in geoscience. In March, President Barack Obama singled out the program, which has also been replicated in Alaska, with an award for helping underrepresented populations find a path to college and increasing their numbers in the scientific workforce.

With ExxonMobil’s support, the Jackson School was able this summer to launch a pilot offshoot in Texas called STEMFORCE. It seeks to expand on GeoFORCE’s success in mentoring and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers — in this case at underserved middle schools in Austin and Dallas — and getting them into the pipeline for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“There is nothing more fulfilling for an educator than helping young people achieve their full academic and personal potential,” says Jackson School Dean Sharon Mosher. “GeoFORCE is a wonderful example of a program doing just that.”

Learn more about GeoFORCE Texas.

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