BEST CORPORATE CITIZEN - 2004
According to the Minnesota Council on Foundations, charitable giving for education and the percentage of all dollars donated to programs in the Twin Cities area are both on the decline. General Mills is vigorously bucking both trends. The philanthropic part of the company, General Mills Community Action, ranked second only to the Target Foundation in grant dollars to statewide education in 2001, the last year figures are available. And unlike Target, General Mills hasn't cut health insurance for its employees or asked for huge public subsidies from Minneapolis taxpayers recently. This year, in addition to its already staunch commitment to promoting local diversity, the General Mills Foundation is marking its 50th anniversary by giving out 50 "Celebrating Communities of Color" grants of $10,000 apiece to nonprofit organizations working with minority communities in the Twin Cities. The company put $3 million into new housing in Minneapolis's Hawthorne neighborhood and established monthly meetings, known as the Hawthorne Huddle, to derive strategies that have helped reduce crime an estimated 30 percent in the neighborhood. Another 50 grants of up to $10,000 will go to community-based groups that help young people adopt a balanced diet and physically active lifestyle to combat obesity, which now rivals tobacco use as a drain on our health care system. Since 1997, the company has underwritten 1,200 college scholarships for at-risk high school students. It matches all charitable contributions by its employees and retirees each year. Overall, the General Mills Foundation contributed over $20 million throughout the country in fiscal 2003. But it isn't all just dollars and cents. Approximately 70 percent of the company's workforce volunteered in their communities over the past year. Medical and dental benefits are paid for employees and their eligible dependents--including same-sex partners--from the first day of employment. And General Mills ranks among the top three U.S. companies in providing food to charitable outlets and people in need.