Investing in the Future, One Child at a Time
TSYS places a premium on children, education
They said it takes a village to impact the life of a child. At TSYS®, there's a life-sized village of team members ready and willing to give their time, effort and resources to children in their communities. From formal partnerships to grassroots outreach, leaders and team members at TSYS locations around the world are making children a priority in significant ways.
Partnerships that matter
Often, there's no need to look further than across the street. TSYS' global headquarters in Columbus, Ga. just happens to stand one block west of the Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy (DEMA). This proximity has created more than just years of being good neighbors ─ it has opened the door to a whole new world for both TSYS and students at DEMA.
TSYS' involvement with DEMA began more than a dozen years ago after a kindergarten teacher and her students walked by the parking garage at the same time Phil Tomlinson, chairman of the Board of Directors and former chief executive officer, was driving out. He stopped to talk with the students, and the rest is history.
"The teacher sent me a note to say how much it meant to the students that Phil would stop and speak to them," said Darlene Halstead, Tomlinson's executive assistant. "So I got involved and we started a relationship with the teacher and principal."
That relationship grew into an official partnership in 2004. As an official Partner in Education, TSYS provides support for DEMA in a variety of ways, from tutoring and adopting classes to throwing celebration parties and sponsoring classes and families at Christmas.
"I just wanted to get as many people involved as I could; to be a positive influence in the lives of those children," Halstead said. "There are a lot of children at DEMA who face very real struggles with poverty, family dynamics and even homelessness. We want to make a difference in their lives."
Every class at DEMA has one or more TSYS sponsors each year, and team members perform a variety of roles when they adopt a class.
Jane Dobson, team member and DEMA volunteer for six years, said her favorite part of working with DEMA is simply getting to know the children. She and her division team have worked with the same teacher for four years, visiting class once a week to read to the students, take prizes or snacks and help with whatever their teacher needs.
"It's important to give back to the community in this way," she said. "For me personally, it's a way of helping and hopefully making a child's life a little bit better."
The buddy system
Programs like TSYS Buddies offer another way for team members to get involved with DEMA. James Madison, team member and TSYS Buddies founder, began volunteering at DEMA long before there was an official partnership or program in place.
"I heard about some young boys who could use a positive male influence in their lives, so I started going over there to have lunch with them or just talk with them," he explained.
The father of three grown sons began meeting with DEMA students more than 12 years ago and eventually his efforts caught the eye of the school's family coordinator, who asked him to expand his outreach. At that moment, TSYS Buddies was born.
"It's important to give back to the community in this way. For me personally, it's a way of helping and hopefully making a child's life a little bit better." Jane Dobson
Now more than two dozen team members work as TSYS Buddies each year, making a three-year commitment to meet with their student buddy twice a month and follow them through third, fourth and fifth grades. And while the success stories he has seen and heard are definitely on his list of his favorite things about the program, it's the commitment to these students and getting to know them that keeps Madison coming back year after year.
"We may not always see the successes with these children, but we're planting seeds," he said. "And I tell them all the time that this is a circle. They need to do this for others when they grow up. We all need to give back."
Lessons in business and community
DEMA isn't TSYS' only official Partner in Education. The company has also partnered with Shaw High School in Columbus for 23 years. And according to Faith Pohl, team member and TSYS' coordinator for the PIE program, the program is still thriving.
"We try to help them in a variety of ways," she said. From providing monetary support to math tutoring and inviting the students to participate in TSYS events, there is regular involvement between the school and TSYS.
TSYS also sponsors the Shaw Raidermasters, a student chapter of the international speaking and leadership organization Toastmasters. U.S. History teacher and Raidermasters sponsor Lynda Kannady credited the partnership with TSYS as one of the primary ways their students learn about business and community service.
"I think it means a lot for the students to see business leaders in our community and how these leaders are willing to give up time, effort, and even money, just to do some community service," she said. "I like students to see that so that one day they might be involved in the same way."
A global approach to common needs
A commitment to helping children and their educational needs occurs in other TSYS locations as well.
The TSYS India team partners with the Ehsaas Foundation, founded in 2007 by young professionals in India's corporate sector, to support educating the country's many underprivileged children.
Ravish Kumar, team member and Ehsaas volunteer, is a co-founder of the group in India's National Capital Region. He chose to get involved after examining the fate that many children face in India. He was appalled at the more than three million children who live on the streets and 17 million Indian children who work as laborers.
Kumar said Ehsaas has supported more than 40 children in their area and expects to reach more than 1,000 children with educational help by June 2016.
"A little effort from those of us who are blessed with good education and are employed can make a difference in the lives of many children," he said.
The college try
TSYS' commitment to education extends to supporting students as they work toward college and university degrees. Through the generosity of friends of TSYS and team members, the TSYS Future Scholars Foundation has awarded 370 scholarships totaling more than $536,000 to children of U.S. team members since its creation in 2008.
In the U.K., TSYS has partnered with the York Management School to launch the TSYS Masters Scholarship, which will provide funds for approximately 80 percent of the recipients' fees at the school. The scholarship is in memory of recently deceased TSYS Europe Managing Director Bob Evans.
The Knaresborough Data Centre team is also reaching out a helping hand to young students hoping to pursue a career in business. They recently created an apprenticeship program providing work experience, a cash stipend and an opportunity for college students to learn key elements of securing a corporate position, including submitting resumes and cover letters, interviewing and then developing professional skills as an apprentice.
Whether the outreach is for young children or young adults pursuing academic achievement, the theme is the same. Education and children are important, and TSYS team members feel a real sense of responsibility to help where they can.
"We have a culture of caring," Halstead said. "It's just a natural extension of our culture to wrap our arms around children and their needs when we can."
Partners in Education (PIE) Quick Facts
- Formal Partners in Education (PIE) members for 23 years
- Partnered with DEMA for 10 years
- TSYS Buddies began more than 12 years ago
- Indian team members to sponsor 1,000 children by 2016
- TSYS Master Scholarship launched at York Management School for 2014-2015 school year