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Education Unlocks Innovation


At Samsung we are committed to being an active member of communities across the United States. How do we make good on our responsibility to be a kind corporate citizen to our neighbors, and work together with them to create a better tomorrow?

Meet Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. Ann is constantly listening to and understanding the nuances of each community that we are a part of in the U.S., and partnering with education organizations that empower future generations to make positive change.

In addition to her work at Samsung, Ann is also mother to a toddler, devoted houseplant nurturer, and an avid supporter of public parks because they promise equal access to nature for everyone.

Here’s Ann’s “top 3” list for what you need to know about how we approach corporate citizenship at Samsung, and how environment and sustainability enter into the mix:

1. Samsung focuses on supporting a lot of education-based initiatives in the U.S. because quality education is the foundation for innovation.

We feel very strongly that education is a big door opener for so many things. Our corporate citizenship and giving initiatives are strongly aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) #4: Quality Education.

We are particularly committed to meeting communities where they are. Right now at Samsung we see a need for more focus on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as a field of study, both globally and specifically across the U.S. We hope that our work can compel young people who have an ambition to change the world to recognize the tools that STEM education provides, and utilize those tools to make it happen.

We hope that our work can compel young people who have an ambition to change the world to recognize the tools that STEM education provides, and utilize those tools to make it happen

Education provides foundational building blocks by which you can unlock potential and skills, and that leads to true problem solving — different angles and approaches that haven’t been invented before. Diversity of thought is also the great equalizer — it brings more people to the table and results in greater awareness, empathy, and positive impact.

This is why we created initiatives like Samsung Solve for Tomorrow, our global contest designed to boost interest and proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), by challenging youth to demonstrate how STEM solutions can help improve their local community and impact their surroundings. It’s also why we support and underwrite other educational programs that are important to our communities and critical for building a better future.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow_April 2, 2019

2. We listen to our employees to understand where we can create the most change in their communities. Environmental initiatives are top of mind.

Our giving at Samsung includes financial funding, in-kind support, and products and solutions that communities may need. Most importantly, we also have many colleagues who volunteer and participate in community service.

We are very intentional about our volunteering and community service. We listen closely to our employees to hear what they want to support and learn about local organizations that are at the tip of the spear for changing communities for the better.

Recently many of our employees have specifically identified local environment and sustainability initiatives. In New Jersey, where I’m based, I’d like to highlight two incredible organizations that we partner with often.

Hackensack Riverkeeper

Riverkeeper is a non-profit that has been stewarding the protection of the New Jersey Meadowlands (the large ecosystem of wetlands also known as the Hackensack Meadowlands) for over two decades. Our Samsung Electronics America headquarters in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey is located within these wetlands. With the help of thousands of volunteers from New Jersey and beyond, Riverkeeper has collected tons of garbage, lobbied governments and companies for reform, and most importantly –     educated New Jerseyans about the biodiversity of their local wetlands through fun river clean up days, paddling programs, nature walks, pontoon cruises, and more.

Since 2014 our team at Samsung Electronics America in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey has partnered with Hackensack Riverkeeper, an organization dedicated to cleaning up and protecting our local waterways and their surroundings.

On our Samsung Employee Day of Service we typically have a large group put on waders, paddle out in kayaks, and participate in a river clean up with the Riverkeepers. At the end of the day I’m always floored by just how much waste they all collect. Our colleagues always walk away having learned so much about our local ecosystems and how they need our help.

City Green

City Green is an urban farming and gardening organization based in Clifton, New Jersey. They work to revitalize urban areas through agriculture and educational programming, and offer practical, technical, and financial resources in support of environmental stewardship, equitable access to healthy food, and ecologically sustainable communities.

The team at City Green knows that many people have not grown up generationally with fresh food, or know how to cook, so everything they work on centers on addressing those knowledge gaps. They often teach people at farmers markets. They also bring bees, goats, and chickens to urban areas so that kids can learn about what a farm is without having to travel 20-30 miles outside of their city. We think that City Green employs so many out-of-the-box approaches to bring nature closer to home, and they have countless success stories to show for it.

In years past, Samsung employees have donated time working with City Green during Samsung’s Day of Service.

I’d love to share one of those success stories from a past Day of Service with you.

One of City Green’s most recent initiatives included having a school group of city kids plant carrots. Then, once it was time to harvest the carrots, the kids came back and they all gathered around the row of carrots that they had planted.

When the group leader picked the first carrot out of the ground, the class erupted in impromptu clapping like it was a magic trick.

When the group leader picked the first carrot out of the ground, the class erupted in impromptu clapping like it was a magic trick.

Some of the kids were so floored — they didn’t know that carrots came from the ground like that. And the kids clapped like that for every single carrot that they pulled from the ground. Until that day these kids didn’t know how carrots came to be carrots — they just saw them at the supermarket.

I love this story so much because it shows the power of education. For these kids, carrots now come from the earth instead of plastic bags. They will never forget that.

3. All issues are intersectional, so at Samsung we calculate a broader ROI for our work, while keeping to a central theme for giving.

Everything is interconnected. For instance, when we talk about sustainability we also need to talk about the importance of education and equality. When we talk about climate change we also must talk about nature as well as leveraging technology in ways that work with – not against – the environment.

Therefore, in our team planning meetings we challenge ourselves to consider whether or not our choices are the best way to do what we do. Where is this initiative effective? How does it have an impact? Is there an ROI (Return on Investment)? What does our ROI include? How can we be adaptive? This complexity is incredibly important.

At the same time, part of being effective in citizenship is also recognizing the importance of having a focus, like ours on education-based initiatives. Blending our focus on education-based initiatives with our commitment to sustainability has led to our work with great organizations like the ones I just described.

Part of being effective in citizenship is also recognizing the importance of having a focus, like ours on education-based initiatives.

Becoming more sustainable as a company means walking the walk. Our citizenship programs are how we activate this commitment of ours. We’re always thinking of ways to educate and invite, but also how to be true to form for ourselves and what our team believes in.

We deeply care about our environment and sustainability. Through our corporate citizenship initiatives we support and partner with the best, and invite everyone to join us and be a part of our journey.

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