In 1990, the Chamber of Commerce in Decatur, AL, founded a program called "Partners-In-Education." The primary objective of the new program was to help local schools benefit from the experience and knowledge of area industry, business, and community leaders. Former 3M Plant Manager, John J. Martin, and his Administrative Assistant, Freda Harwell, were instrumental in establishing a volunteer committee of employees to represent 3M in the Partners-In-Education program. 3M has worked with its "partner", Austin High School, since the inception of the program. Committee members, who are selected based on their willingness to serve, meet monthly during the academic school year. The partnership between 3M and Austin High School currently benefits 1,520 students and 149 faculty and staff members, as well as the community at large.
The 3M Partners-In-Education committee, along with the support of Corporate 3M Community Affairs and 3M Decatur Plant Management, donated over $15,000 in financial assistance and 3M Brand supplies, in addition to a combined committee total of over 400 volunteer hours to Austin High School during the 2005-2006 academic school year. The 3M Partners-In-Education committee and school representatives decide together how to use all donations to aid the greatest number of students, faculty and staff. Examples of assistance during the past twelve months include: funding Grant Requests submitted by faculty members to support numerous educational, athletic, and PTSA programs, purchasing Daily Planners for each student on campus in order to encourage and strengthen organizational skills, providing breakfast to all students who take the Graduation Exam, which helped Austin High exceed attendance requirements of the No Child Left Behind initiative, bestowing college scholarships to deserving high school seniors, furnishing first aid kits for each classroom, and giving awards and incentives to recognize and support student achievement, such as the Student-of-the-Month and AHS/DHS Academic Booster programs.
In addition to financial assistance and supplies, 3M Partners-In-Education committee members realize the importance of volunteerism; therefore, they often donate their time to sponsor various school projects and activities. Several projects conducted during the past school year include: 3M Plant Tour; College/Industry Expo; Mock Interviews; "Answer the Call for Cash” Recycling Project; Holiday Food Drive; and the school-sponsored World War II Veteran's Event. The 3M Partners-In-Education committee provides the resources to conduct CPR Certification and Fire-Extinguisher Training for school staff members, under the direction of the 3M Decatur EHS&R Manager. EHS&R personnel also inspect the school's lab equipment and handle the disposal of hazardous materials from school property, as needed.