April 9, 2014

ExxonMobil Foundation Gives Cornell $467k Grant

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The ExxonMobil Foundation gave Cornell approximately half a million dollars last week — which will be distributed to various parts of the University — according to Lance Collins, dean of the College of Engineering.

The funds were given to the University last Thursday by Elissa Sterry ’79 M.Eng ’80, vice president of the intermediates unit of ExxonMobil Chemical, according to a University press release.

Collins said the $466,555 grant is part of the foundation’s Educational Matching Gifts Program which matches donations made by ExxonMobil employees, spouses and retirees to various higher education institutions across the country.

“For every dollar that is provided by alumni or friends of Cornell with affiliations to ExxonMobil, the company provides three dollars of matching funds,” Collins said. “The [money] represents the matching funds for gifts made to Cornell by 72 ExxonMobil employees, retirees and spouses.”

According to Collins, the funds will be allocated across the entire University.

“Generally the matching funds are applied to the same designation as the individual’s gift, unless the individual requests otherwise, which happens, but is rare,” he said.

Abby Westervelt, director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the College of Engineering, also said the parts of the University that will benefit from the grant depend on where employees choose to make their donations.

“If an employee says ‘I want to fund undergraduate research,’ than the three to one ExxonMobil grant will go to undergraduate research,” she said.

Collins added the funds are a “very generous” example of the corporate sponsorship of higher education.

“These funds extend the reach of the original gifts considerably and greatly benefit Cornell faculty and students,” he said.

Westervelt said the program is unique in allowing employees to take the initiative in deciding where the money should go.

“[The ExxonMobil foundation] is wonderful because it allows the employees to decide where they want to contribute and what areas of the University they want to support,” she said.

She added that the program is a “standout” because it provides a three to one match to employee donations.

“Many companies do have a matching program, but it is much more typical to have a one to one match, she said. “The foundation will matches three dollars for every one dollar [employee donation] for up to $7,500.”

ExxonMobil employees, retirees and spouses donated more than $190,000 to the University in 2013, according to Westervelt.

ExxonMobil, however, does have an interest in promoting science and technology education, according to Westervelt.

“So, they would like to see us — if we use the money differently — to put the funds into STEM education,” she said.

The ExxonMobil foundation gave approximately $30.5 million to 866 colleges and universities across the country this year, according to the University press release.