Opportunity is a powerful word. The right one can literally change a life. Lives, even. The Ball Foundation has long recognized this and believed partnering with CU Boulder to aid underrepresented students could make the state and the world richer for it.
“Ball Corporation has a longstanding commitment to supporting the communities where we live and work by investing in educational initiatives designed to enable the next generation to contribute to society in meaningful ways,” said Jessica Leary, Global Community Relations Manager at Ball Corporation.
Diversity and inclusion, an integral component of Ball’s “Drive for 10” strategy, is at the heart of much of the Foundation’s work and an important key to the company’s long-term success.
“There is no question that diversity and inclusion enable us to find innovative solutions to global challenges, better serve our customers, push the boundaries of our imagination, and tap into the unique perspectives that can only be garnered through a diverse workforce,” Leary said. “For these valuable reasons, our diversity and inclusion programs remain some of the most important and influential drivers for our culture of belonging.”
One such area is the BOLD Center at CU Boulder. BOLD stands for Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity and provides assistance, support and community in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
Vanessa Reyes, who is a first-generation college student, has found the BOLD program to be more than just financial assistance for her education. It also provides vital mentorship by working as a student assistant at the BOLD Center as part of the scholarship’s requirements. The center focuses on fostering a diverse environment and helping to empower underrepresented students to reach their goals.
“I also like being able to be a role model for others,” said Reyes, who originally became interested in computer science through spending hours leaving video game competitors in her wake. “I want to be a coder and encourage others that they can do it, too. I have so many people who point me in the right direction through BOLD and help me to achieve.”
Interim Dean Keith Molenaar is grateful for the partnership with the Foundation and Ball Corporation. "The company is a model of what we hope to instill in our engineers with its commitment to integrity and sustainability,” he said. “The Foundation has generously supported our vision to educate more diverse engineers.”
Leeds to Success
Growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, Jesse Alardin Rivera, now a first-generation college student, didn’t know many people who had gone to college. Applying to the Leeds School of Business, he was thrilled to get into CU Boulder but was admittedly disappointed not to make the business school.
Then the Ball Foundation stepped in and contributed to the EXCEL Scholars scholarship fund, awarding each Leeds EXCEL Scholars Program participant with additional scholarships after completing the KeyBank Summer Bridge Program.
“I was told if I completed their summer program that I would actually get into Leeds,” he said.
Alardin Rivera looks back on the program as nothing short of life-changing.
“In many ways, I didn’t know what to expect with college, but this really gave me the strategies and the soft skills to feel more comfortable,” he said. “It gave me a huge amount of confidence going into my first semester and a base of people feeling the exact same way I was. I can’t tell you how much better it made me feel.”
The result? A perfect 4.0 GPA through his first year, becoming vice president of his business fraternity and even starting his own business with fellow students in his dorm. The oldest of seven, he is excited to give advice to them from what he’s learned and already has provided advice to those from his area considering college.
“I kept telling myself this first year, ‘I’ve been given an opportunity — don’t waste it,’” he said. “The Ball Foundation really cares, and what they did for me was phenomenal.”
These are just a couple of stories in what The Ball Foundation sees as helping to guide students’ paths. After all, a person sometimes just needs that powerful opportunity.
And, with matching funding from the Colorado Scholarship Opportunity Initiative — a Colorado Department of Higher Education initiative to improve college accessibility and affordability — the giving will actually go twice as far.
“We are excited to recognize and celebrate students who are putting in the hard work every day,” Leary said. “We are committed to making certain that they have every opportunity to thrive.”
The Ball Foundation collaborates with CU Boulder in partnership with the Industry & Foundations Relations team. For more information about supporting CU Boulder’s many programs, please contact email@example.com.