June 23, 2011

JetBlue and PBS KIDS Launch Soar with Reading Initiative This Summer

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning needs to stop. We’re pleased to launch a project with PBS KIDS that aims to keep children reading wherever they go this summer – with a combination of in-flight and online literacy resources, community reading events and a partnership with First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides new books to children in need.

At the center of the program is the newly launched SoarwithReading.com, where parents can download a free reading activity kit, create a summer reading list with recommendations from Random House Children’s Books and log their children’s reading minutes, among other activities. For every reader who registers on SoarwithReading.com, we’ll make a book donation to a child through First Book, up to 10,000 books.

Children traveling on JetBlue flights this summer will receive a free activity kit with reading games based on PBS KIDS educational programming.

Coming Soon to a Library Near You!

JetBlue Crewmembers, PBS KIDS characters and hosts, and popular children’s authors will be visiting libraries across the country this summer to read with children. The Soar with Reading tour will make stops in several JetBlue cities, including New York, Boston, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

The Soar with Reading program will also award $10,000 worth of Random House Children’s Books to one lucky community’s library. Another library will receive $2,500 worth of books and five other libraries will receive $500 worth of books, courtesy of Random House Children’s Books and JetBlue. To nominate a library, simply visit SoarwithReading.com. Nominate a library and you’ll be eligible to win a JetBlue Getaways family vacation to amazing Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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January 5, 2015

MediaPlanet Roundtable – Learning Outside the Classroom: A Roundtable Discussion

We are proud to have our very own Director of Corporate Social Responsibility featured along with National Geographic’s VP Content- Education and Children’s Media, Jennifer Emmet  and Nook’s Chief Bookseller James Mustich  in a MediaPlanet Roundtable discussion on the changing face of literacy in the U.S. Presented here is her portion  of the conversation with MediaPlanet.

Mediaplanet: How can we utilize advances in technology to promote literacy?

Icema D. Gibbs: Technology is the next frontier for on-the-go engagement. As a partner to several educational entities, we’re able to help them with resources to meet our joint literacy goals. For example, we partner with Random House Children’s Books for our annual Soar with Reading initiative which encourages reading during the summer months. We recently introduced an app to the program, allowing us to enhance the reading experience beyond physical books with digital games and activities that appeal to children.

MP: What are some creative/unexpected ways to foster a love of learning in young children?

IG: You wouldn’t necessarily align an airline with literacy. However, during focus groups and research our customer and crewmembers shared that education is important to them and should be for the brands they support. Our Soar with Reading program provides age-appropriate books to children in underserved areas. We introduce reading in unique ways to our customers and communities. Not only do we provide activities and resources, we engage our customers at all customer touch points including in the community and via our website and inflight entertainment to join us in donating books to kids in need.

As an airline, we actively support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education starting at the grade-school level through the JetBlue Foundation. Tying reading into the world of aviation often lights a spark in young students. After all, reading is at the core of academic success including STEM education.

MP: How have you witnessed literacy efforts change over the past 5 years?

IG: There have been steep declines in literacy. With some reports showing that 33 percent of fourth graders are only reading at or below grade level, access to books is vital. There is a deficit in access to age-appropriate books in poor neighborhoods, with only one book for every 300 children, compared to 13 such books per child in middle-income neighborhood. To help increase access, JetBlue has donated nearly $1 million worth of books, in collaboration with our partners including First Book. Used for educational purposes, technology also makes everything relevant in real-time for students. It is important to utilize these resources in the classroom beyond traditional books.

We are also seeking help from experts in the field to help move the needle and increase access. We commissioned a study in partnership with Dr. Susan B. Neuman, PhD, a specialist in early literacy development whose research includes reading instruction for children living in poverty. She is helping us to dig deeper into the statistics and develop a plan that will really make an impact on literacy in US.

MP: What is the optimal age for literacy acquisition, and what course of action do you suggest to take advantage of that prime learning window?

IG: As a corporate supporter, our education partners have reiterated a need for resources and age-appropriate books. Studies show that children that are read to from the beginning have increased vocabulary and are more successful in school. It is never too early to push literacy. With the nation’s recent report cards reflecting stagnant reading scores for high school seniors, we created our Soar with Reading to encourage and share the gift of reading starting at the pre- and grade-school levels. Education and access to age-appropriate books is very important in building a strong foundation. This includes engaging students through means that they are currently using, including apps and other technology advancements.

MP: How can we make the love of reading a family affair?

IG: The Soar with Reading program was created as a family affair to encourage reading and help children’s imaginations take flight. Soar with Reading provides books to help maintain the knowledge base student’s built during the school year. A great way do this is with the support of family members. We encourage parents to read with their children wherever they are – at the grocery, in the airport, on the bus, it all makes a difference. We also provide interactive resources for the entire family and we also bring literacy to life with free reading events in JetBlue cities throughout the summer.

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July 8, 2013

JetBlue Visits the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida

Two weeks ago, over 100 crewmembers spent the afternoon with 300+ energetic children from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida in Orlando. Together we planted flowers, read books from Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series as part of our Summer Soar with Reading campaign and painted a backdrop of a New York City subway for an upcoming play at the Clubhouse. Of course, we also saved some time for some of our favorite games— foosball, bumper pool and a particularly intense game of soccer. With the children as the soccer team captains, our crewmembers had to bring their best games!

Crewmembers work at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida

These crewmembers represented a diverse cross section of the company, from Pilots, Flight Attendants, System Operations, Reservations, Technical Operations, and Airport Operations, and were in Orlando as part of a “Values Committee Summit” where they gather to work directly with each other, and with leadership to collaborate on making JetBlue a place where crewmembers want to come to work and an airline customers want to fly.

“What a great opportunity we had to work with these fabulous kids at the Boys and Girls Club. Interacting with them and seeing their smiles was such a rewarding experience. It was a day I will remember for a long time,” says crewmember Melinda P. in our Salt Lake City Support Center.

Crewmember spending some quality time with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida

Soccer!

When the Florida heat got too hot to handle, we all headed inside for choreographed dancing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies and V.I.C’s Wobble. It was a great way to end a day filled with fun, service and making a difference in the community.

Kevin A., a crewmember in Long Island City, captured the event perfectly, “What I liked most about working with the Boys and Girls Club was that we were able to see the results of our efforts. The time that we spent with the children hopefully impacted them for not only the present but for the future. The look on their faces was priceless and getting to work with them on activities did not feel like work at all—we were having fun together.”


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July 5, 2013

Newark Crewmembers Make Kindergarten Grads Smile

A few weeks ago, our Soar with Reading program launched across the JetBlue network, and our crewmembers in Newark are already spreading the literature bug. A group recently teamed up to visit the North Star Charter Academy in Vailsburg, a neighborhood near Newark, New Jersey.

Three kindergarten classes welcomed our crewmembers, who distributed bags filled with Blue Chips, pencils, and a Soar with Reading book. The school is one of the top schools in Newark and the students, now on their way to first grade, were so happy to receive some goodies from JetBlue.


 

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June 27, 2013

A Tale of Blue Cities: Flat Stanley

During my time as a member of the faculty at JetBlue University, I have had the privilege of leading tours of our training facility for various groups and visitors, but none as interesting as my most recent guest.

For the past few weeks, I have played host to a boy named Stanley – Flat Stanley.  For those of you unfamiliar with my flat friend, he is the main character in a 1964 children’s book by author Jeff Brown.  The story is about a boy who gets crushed by a bulletin board and has to learn to live his life being only ½ inch thick.  Because of his size, Flat Stanley gets to go on various adventures.  He has a friend named Flat Stella with whom he sometimes travels.

Flat Stanley arrives at JetBlue University in Orlando ready to learn all about JetBlue!

I came to know Stanley through a friend ‘s Facebook post indicating a young teacher named Amanda in my hometown of Somerville, Mass. She was looking for people out of state to participate in her class project.  The goal was to get as many Stanleys to go out of state on adventures as possible.   I thought JetBlue University was a good fit for Stanley, since supporting literacy is one of JetBlue’s key areas of focus for our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.  I also wanted Amanda’s class to know that even as grown-ups you never stop learning.

A letter from a student in Ms. Amanda’s class that arrived with Flat Stanley

Stanley arrived at JetBlue rather unceremoniously in a plain letter sized envelope and instructions from a student who signed his name ”Your Friend, Davis.”  It was a simple request – have fun with Stanley and send some pictures of his adventure.

First stop, our uniform store, where Stanley looked at the various uniforms worn by our crewmembers.   While in the store, we met Captain Eric who graciously posed for a photo with Stanley.  In my recap of our adventure, I emphasized to Ms. Amanda’s class the importance of math and science and that those were two topics that are very important in aviation.

Pilot Captain Eric with Flat Stanley in the uniform store

Flat Stanley seemed impressed with our uniforms, so we made him an honorary uniformed JetBlue crewmember complete with his own “flat” uniform.  From there we visited the Pilot training facilities, where Stanley got to see a Flight Training Device, or FTD, used to acquaint pilots with the flight deck on our aircraft.  Stanley also saw our full motion flight simulators where pilots learn and are tested on their mastery of “flying” our Airbus and Embraer aircraft in a simulated environment.

Flat Stanley in his new JetBlue uniform at our flight simulator

Rounding out his adventure, Stanley got to meet some Inflight crewmembers in training, along with Rose, one of our Inflight instructors.  Along the way, Stanley learned how tough the training is to become a JetBlue crewmember, and how, even as grown-ups, we have to study to learn new things.

Members of Inflight Class 10-13 and 11-13

As I sat at my desk and packed Stanley’s luggage for his trip back to Ms. Amanda’s classroom, I was grateful for the opportunity to experience this facility –  where I spend so much of my time – through the eyes of a child, even if that child was a small flat piece of paper.  In capturing the details of Stanley’s adventure, I remembered my excitement as a new crewmember, and that after almost ten years with JetBlue, how fortunate I am to work in this industry and for this company  – because JetBlue  supports the community in so many ways.

Diane showing Flat Stanley the ropes

Whether it’s a pilot speaking at a career day, or groups of volunteers from our BlueCities encouraging children to read through our Soar with Reading program that’s designed to promote literacy, these efforts not only give us the opportunity to serve the communities in which we operate, but also provide additional opportunities for us to connect with our customers.

Inflight instructor Rose

As I made my rounds with Flat Stanley, each JetBlue Crewmember I asked to pose for a picture with Stanley did so willingly and with great enthusiasm.  Because they knew that while Stanley is a piece of paper, he represents all those kids who sit at the airport with their noses pressed up against the glass watching the planes take off and land, who board our planes and want to peek into where the pilots sit and who one day may dream of a career in the airline industry.

Flat Stanley in the flight deck (don’t worry, he didn’t fly the plane!)

We airline people are a hearty breed.  You have to really love what you do to stand on the ramp in torrential rain to ensure bags get loaded on flights.  You have to be committed to your customers to get up at  2 a.m. to be at the airport for a 4 a.m. airport shift.   You have to love to fly to spend years and thousands of dollars to obtain the hours necessary to safely command a multi-million dollar aircraft and you have to work hard to learn all of the safety, security and service requirements to successfully pass inflight training.

These are the lessons that Flat Stanley learned these past few weeks and will take with him back to Ms. Amanda’s classroom (along with some cool JetBlue pins and baseball cards for the kids).

From left to right (Matthew, Davis, Stanley, Hemanjalee, Michael, and Ms. Amanda!

The Flat Stanley Project was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a third grade schoolteacher in Canada.  The project is intended to promote literacy and students who read the books send the paper doll and written notes to people or students in other parts of the world through conventional mail and e-mail.

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 Learn more about Dianecheck out the previous A Tale of Blue Cities stories and stay tuned for the next up!

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October 13, 2012

Photos: Swing for Good Golf Classic

Our fourth annual Swing For Good Golf Classic took place on Tuesday, and although the rainy weather proved a bit challenging, it didn’t keep nearly 300 business partners and crewmembers from participating in this important fundraising event.

With our 16th playground build right around the corner and all of our success with the Soar with Reading campaign, the event was a true celebration of our dedicated support to our partner charities, KaBOOM! and PBS Kids; we are proud to be associated with these organizations. In fact, over the past two years we have donated over a quarter of a million dollar’s worth of books to kids in need, and distributed more than 500,000 literacy based activity books across our network.

Learn more about our Corporate Social Responsibility team

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October 11, 2012

A Day in the Life: Corporate Social Responsibility

Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Icema, Jenna, Irma and Kate, who have one of the most generous jobs at our airline.

This four person team makes up our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department, or the folks tasked with identifying charitable causes that make sense for JetBlue to support, and to allocate our resources accordingly.

The CSR team, led by Icema (who has been with us since JetBlue’s infancy when she was an operational leader at JFK), works in several capacities to support our philanthropic efforts. Overall, we support more than 1,000 non-profit organizations throughout the 71 cities that we serve. That support may range from financial contributions to in-kind donations to volunteer support, with the ultimate goal of moving the needle on social change in the areas of education, youth, environment and community.

The team wears many hats, including handling inbound inquiries for donations of funds; planning charity events like our annual Swing For Good Golf Classic (which just took place this week Tuesday); and organizing and empowering our 14,500 crewmembers to get out in their individual communities to volunteer for the causes they’re most passionate about. On any given day, the CSR team might be in Orlando with professional basketball players reading to hundreds of kids as part of Soar With Reading initiative, digging in the dirt to plant trees for our One Thing That’s Green campaign, or building relationships with our partners around the JetBlue network.

Our Soar With Reading event in New York

Many companies and celebrities now feel an obligation to have a charitable arm which donates to its largest bases as part of its regular operations, but at JetBlue, we are a little different in our thinking. We have always believed that giving back to the communities in which we serve is not a corporate obligation, but rather a moral one. Not only do our customers live in the cities that we fly to, but our crewmembers do as well, and we feel strongly about our responsibility to support those neighborhoods as best we’re able.

Some national partners that we have longstanding relationships with include:

  • Carbonfund.org
  • DoSomething.org
  • First Book
  • KaBOOM!
  • PBS
  • VH1 Save the Music

In 2012 alone we have:

  • Donated $200,000 worth of books to kids in need, through our Soar with Reading program
  • Decorated and delivered 2,100 quilts to children in hospitals throughout the JetBlue network, through our partner Soaringwords
  • Pledged to plant a tree for everyone traveling with us on Earth Day, which resulted in over 83,000 trees, in honor of our 5th annual One Thing That’s Green Campaign!
  • Built new KaBOOM! playgrounds – in San Juan, PR, Long Beach, CA, Boston, MA and Oakland, CA. Each of the new play spaces were designed with the help of local children and built by JetBlue Crewmembers, customers and local residents. In 2012 alone, together with KaBOOM!, JetBlue engaged over 825 volunteers, to build four new playgrounds that will serve 5,228 children.
  • And many more!

Our crewmembers are encouraged to go out into their local communities though our Community Connections program. So far this year, 2,014 crewmembers have volunteered 16,341 hours for 345 non-profits across the cities that we serve. For every 25 hours a crewmember volunteers, we donate one round trip ticket to their charity of choice. Crewmembers who volunteer more than 100 hours of their time are invited to an annual recognition dinner. “All of the rewards are important mainly because they demonstrate that we value crewmember engagement within their communities and it allows us to further align our corporate giving with crewmembers’ passions,” shared Jenna from the CSR team.

Our KaBOOM! playground build

Of course we don’t do the right thing in order to get recognition, but our community efforts have received accolades including CSR Cause Branding Campaign of the Year from PR News for our 2011 Soar with Reading program, which aims to help kids’ imaginations take flight through reading; to learn more about that award click here. We were also awarded the For Planet and People Award in the travel category, by Carbonfund.org, for our long-standing partnership and commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our crewmembers and customers. For more information on that award, click here.

“My favorite part of working on the CSR team is when crewmembers share the impact our donation of tickets had on their child’s school or an animal shelter or one of the other 300 organizations we support. The rewards may seem small but have a huge impact on morale,” said Kate.

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet:

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September 27, 2012

Bid For Good! Online Charity Auction for Exclusive Items

Our fourth annual Swing for Good Golf Classic and Bid for Good online auction together make up our largest fundraising effort of the year. Help us reach our goal of raising $1 million to benefit two of our long-standing charitable partners – KaBOOM! and PBS Kids. Bid on items ranging from luxurious all inclusive Getaways packages and exclusive access to VIP sporting events to one-of-a-kind experiential opportunities, and provide much needed funding to these great non-profit organizations. Visit Charitybuzz.com/JetBlue and bid today through Oct.18 on items including:

  • A chance to throw the first pitch at a Boston RedSox game
  • VIP tickets to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Los Angeles
  • An Eli Manning signed jersey
  • Four passes to the 2013 PGA Championship
  • Super Bowl 2013 tickets
  • Tickets to the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards
  • MTV Movie Award tickets
  • Pit passes at a NASCAR race
  • A private PBS Kids party featuring a live musical performance by PBS Kids Host Mr. Steve
  • VIP tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in New York City; and much more.

Additionally, as part of this year’s fundraising efforts, we’ll also raise funds for both non-profit organizations at our fourth annual Swing For Good Golf Classic, held on Tues, Oct. 9, 2012 at Bethpage State Park Golf Courses.

Our non-profit partners are near and dear to our heart. Kaboom! envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. In addition to raising funds, our crewmembers have helped build 15 playgrounds and counting as part of our partnership. PBS Kids, the number one educational media brand for kids, is another longtime collaborator. Just this summer, we partnered with PBS Kids to provide more than $200,000 worth of books to children in need through our Soar with Reading literacy program.

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August 24, 2012

Tell Us Your Favorite Children’s Book for a Chance to Win a Vacation!

This summer, we partnered with PBS Kids to provide up to $200,000 worth of books to children in need as part of our second annual Soar With Reading program.  Between now and August 31, simply share the name of your favorite children’s book at Soar With Reading and through our partner Barefoot Books we will donate one book to a child in need.

With your help we have donated $127,150 worth of books to children in need so far this summer. Well known personalities such as Glen “Big Baby” Davis of the Orlando Magic, PBS KIDS host Mr. Steve, PBS KIDS’ Hooper and Barefoot Books author Laurie Krebs all assisted in spreading the word to help us reach our goal. You too can help us reach this goal. As a special “thank you,’ everyone who submits a book title will be entered for a chance to win prizes including a JetBlue Getaways vacation package.

Soar With Reading is setting the stage for back-to-school reading success through these book donations, reading events in select cities and by providing free resources for families including an interactive reading list, reading tips and expert advice for keeping kids engaged in literature all summer long.  Book donations will be made to local literacy-focused organizations identified in partnership with PBS member stations in the 71 cities that JetBlue currently serves.

For more information, or to submit the name of your favorite children’s book, visit SoarWithReading.com.

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August 6, 2012

San Juan Soars with Reading

Our most recent Soar with Reading event took place at Plaza Las Américas mall in San Juan, the Caribbean’s largest shopping center. The children enjoyed a reading of Nos Fuimos Todos de Safari and danced with Mr. Steve from PBS KIDS. Check out some great pictures of the event provided by our Airport Operations crewmember Giovanni.

Our Regional Marketing Manager Janid recently appeared on Sistema TV, the PBS local affiliate in San Juan. In the clip, Janid talked about our recent a Soar with Reading event and the great participation from our crewmembers! Check out the clip below.

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