Lynda Resnick: The U.S. Is at a ‘Critical Mass’ on Education Reform

[ 0 ] July 3, 2013 |

For Lynda Resnick and her husband, giving back is an innate part of who they are  – they have even made it part of their business model.

“I really believe it’s privilege and luck that we are as successful as we are,” said Resnick, vice chairman of Roll Global who, along with her husband, Stewart, also owns FIJI water, Paramount Farms and Paramount Citrus Companies. “I think when that happens in your life, it’s your responsibility to give back.”

Not only has Resnick empowered her employees to give back on a micro-level, but she has launched the Central Valley Leadership Project, focusing on K-12 education and grooming leaders of tomorrow. Watch Lynda Resnick talk to genConnect at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival about her philanthropic efforts and why she thinks the country is at a “critical mass” when it comes to education reform: 

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To help instill a sense of charity in her employees, Resnick – also known as the “POM queen” for marketing pomegranates to the world and as the owner of POM Wonderful – donates $1,000 to each of her employees every year so that they may donate to a 5013c charity or organization of their choice.charitypoor

“We wanted our employees to get a feeling of what it’s like to give back,” she said. “They’re also telling us, ‘hey, there’s a hospital in the [California] Central Valley that’s underfunded,” so then Resnick’s charity can give more to that particular cause once it’s brought to their attention if so desired.

In 2010, Resnick turned her philanthropic attention to California’s Central Valley, where a large portion of her company’s employees live and work. Her efforts resulted in the launch of the Central Valley Leadership Project, a multi-pronged program that focuses on K-12 education initiatives, nurtures future leaders and transforms low-income and underserved towns into hopeful and vibrant communities.

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That initiative is “going brilliantly,” she told genConnect about the education endeavor.

“It is not an easy row to hoe,” Resnick said of trying to improve education. “Education is very difficult to deal with and I never dreamt in my entire life that I would dedicate this part of my life to education but I have, because the need is so great.”

The state of education is dire, Resnick stressed. For example, 75 percent of today’s youth can’t enter the military because they either don’t have a high school diploma, are obese, or have a criminal record. “That is criminal,” Resnick said.

The Central Valley Leadership Project involves 38 schools in the Central Valley, offering school grants and scholarships to Resnick’s employees, their kids and grandkids. There is also a charter school for grades 6-12. If students graduate from high school, they automatically educationget a scholarship to college. “It has been very rewarding,” she said. The project also includes a preschool, which Resnick said is vital to giving kids a head start in school.

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But the “big idea” she is working on is Career Tech – an agricultural program she is getting up and running to train skilled farmers of tomorrow. In this program, high-school students go through an apprentice program at her farms, factories and other workplaces in the Valley, shadowing executives, and learning the trade, so that by by the time they graduate, they all have the equivalent of two years of community college. They can either go directly to a middle management job at one of her companies in the Valley upon completion of the program, or go on to college. “We’re very excited about it,” she said.

“Education is the future of America. We must get working on it,” Renick said, adding that she’s encouraged by the huge number of great minds working on this important issue. “I think we’ll reach a critical mass and we will turn a corner in education, I pray.”

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2013

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About Lynda Resnick: Lynda Resnick began her career at the age of nineteen, when she founded a full-service advertising agency. Successfully running this business so early in her career enabled her to gain invaluable and practical marketing experience, [...]
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