The SCOA Foundation, the charitable organization established by Sumitomo Corporation of America to further its philanthropic activities, is no stranger to disaster relief efforts. In 2010, the Foundation had already contributed more than $500,000 to over 30 organizations including contributing thousands of dollars to assistance programs for both the Haiti and Chile earthquake victims. Then, the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan occurred, giving SCOA a unique challenge; the American subsidiary would now be supporting relief efforts to help its parent company's homeland during the most devastating natural disaster in the country's history.
The foundation, established in 2004, already funds a broad range of charitable causes, from worldwide relief support to educational funding in the U.S., but this new development brought the focus back to Japan, the birthplace of many of SCOA's rotating staff. Following the lead of Sumitomo Corporation's (SC) immediate contribution of 400 million yen ($4.9 million) to the disaster relief, SCOA Foundation made a $100,000 donation and created a program for SCNA employees in which SCOA Foundation matched employee donations to the Japanese relief effort dollar-for-dollar. This program raised an additional $88,800 in total funds, donated directly to the disaster relief efforts through the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, the Japan Society, and the Japan Commerce Association of Washington D.C. Inc. Foundation.
Additionally, SC's domestic subsidiaries in Japan contributed in-kind help to local towns and partner companies, including water, food, blankets, sleeping bags, batteries, towels, clothes and toiletries. SC Tohoku was the first SC company to participate, delivering bottled water - about 6,000 liters -- to three evacuation centers in Minamisanriku-cho, a Japanese town that experienced severe damage from the disaster. Unfortunately, the wrath of Mother Nature did not stop there, and in May 2011, the Foundation extended more aid, this time to help the victims of tornadoes that swept throughthe southern United States. This is all part of the corporate social responsibility that SCOA promotes throughout its SCOA Foundation initiatives -- whether those programs involve disaster assistance, business education, or Japanese culture.
"The Sumitomo Corporation of America Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support to a broad range of educational, cultural, research and community activities and institutions in the United States," said Mr. Joji Watanabe, Vice President of General Affairs & Personnel Services of SCOA and also one of the SCOA Foundation's directors. "Much of the Foundation's emphasis is on funding research, educational initiatives and cultural programs which contribute to an enhanced understanding in the United States, of Japan, its people, culture and society."
"Additional emphasis is placed on supporting local community, educational, social services, and cultural institutions and activities which provide assistance, relief and educational outreach to those in need or otherwise provide for the overall well being and welfare of the community. It has continuously supported the activities of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia Business School, which promotes good relations between Japan and the U.S. and business and economic development in the two countries."
SCOA Foundation also continues to support the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation, whose goal is to find a cure for leukemia and allied cancers by means of awarding discovery grants for innovative development research projects, providing palliative care, conducting marrow drives and promoting marrow and cord-blood donor education. Sumitomo Corporation of America has been a contributor to this organization for over 20 years. With the encouragement of SCOA's Houston office, the foundation also added a new philanthropic endeavor this year by making a contribution to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston in their efforts to highlight contemporary and ancient collections of Japanese art in cooperation with the Tokyo National Museum.
Since late 2004, the SCOA Foundation's total endowment has grown to nearly $3 million dollars. "The object of the foundation has always been to establish a system to keep contribution as appropriate as possible without being affected by fluctuating corporate performance results," Watanabe explained, "and we feel we are able to accomplish that goal no matter the economic climate."
In its dedication to supporting cultural affairs, SCOA Foundation continues to contribute to the annual Japan Day @ Central Park, a daylong event designed by the Japanese community of New York to promote deeper understanding of Japanese culture. Participants have the opportunity to hear live music, experience Japanese food and crafts, and even run in a long-distance race. SCOA employees regularly attend all the Japan Day activities.