While the largest portion of oil and natural gas severance taxes goes directly to education funding in Oklahoma, oil and gas companies also go the extra mile in helping schools achieve innovation and success in the classroom.
School districts in Oklahoma have received more than $2 billion in tax dollars over the last 10 years from the oil and natural gas industry. They have also received millions of dollars in private donations and grants from oil and gas companies seeking to strengthen educational outcomes in communities where they operate and seek future employees.
Several Oklahoma companies actively work with public schools, particularly in the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Oil and gas companies have a track record of investing in education from kindergarten through college to strengthen communities where they operate and seek to create a future, skilled workforce.
“Oklahoma’s oil and gas companies believe it’s important to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers,” said Arnella Karges, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association. “By mentoring students and providing incentives to study science and math, they are taking an active role in training their future workforce. Showing students how science, technology, engineering and math impact every-day living also helps them become better aware of how mastering these core subjects is so important.”
Companies support the STEM subjects as well as literacy, teacher training and development and programs aimed at meeting communities’ social needs that impact education outcomes.
Here are just a few examples of how companies invest in school districts in their communities:
- Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy both have mentoring programs where employees go into schools and work one-on-one with students.
- Marathon Oil regularly funds school programs that drive meaningful change in academic performance, graduation rates and interest in STEM fields. These programs provide students resources and exposure to the STEM fields.
- Phillips 66 has funded an Innovation Lab program in Bartlesville. The labs are designed to help boost Bartlesville’s student participation and achievement in STEM-related curricula and job skills. The program also is expected to enhance Bartlesville’s attractiveness as a great place to work and raise a family.
- Devon Energy partners with schools and organizations in a number of endeavors to encourage students to consider careers in the STEM fields. Devon provides Science Giant grants to help educators provide strategic, inventive and hands-on instruction to spark students’ interest in science. Devon also partners with FFA to host the organization’s annual Science Fair and with the Girl Scouts to provide educational kits that provide hands-on activities specific to each Girl Scout program level.
- ExxonMobil and its company employees contributed more than $1.4 million to higher education institutions throughout Oklahoma in 2015. Although the grants are unrestricted, colleges and universities are encouraged to designate a portion to math and science programs supporting student engagement.
Oil and natural gas production in Oklahoma plays an indispensable role in keeping the state’s economy competitive. The industry also contributes greatly to the success of students by helping schools encourage innovative thinking and preparing students for future careers.