ON Semiconductor Impacts Community Through Corporate Giving Program

Jan 14, 2020 3:25 PM ET

by Billie Johnson 

"A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

My mother was a child protection social worker for almost 40 years. Within months of retiring almost 20 years ago, she died of heart and lung disease. As I was going through her things, I found a large framed poster and a stack of greeting cards featuring the words above with a little boy standing on a riverbank looking over the water. Mom displayed that poster in her office and would send the cards to colleagues when they needed a pick-me-up.

She died when I was a single, semiconductor test engineer splitting my time between a cubicle and the test floor. Although I loved the poster and sentiment, I didn’t know where I would put it, so I gave it to a friend who was a school principal. A few weeks ago, my friend told me she was changing careers and asked if I wanted the faded framed print back.

After nearly two decades, this is a poetic time for such a gift. Today, I have a hard-walled office. I am married with two stepsons at home and I have spent the last few months coaching their middle school FIRST® Lego League robotics team, The Benton Street Builders.

FIRST® LEGO League (FLL) is an international robotics competition intended to ignite enthusiasm for science, engineering and technology in kids. Each year, teams of students from ages 9-14 identify a real-world problem related to a theme, then devise an innovative solution, share that solution with others in their community and build and program a LEGO robot to complete tasks on a themed playing field.

ON Semiconductor, through its Corporate Giving Program, provided a grant to purchase robot sets for the team and donated over two dozen laptops to schools in Idaho specifically for robot programming. ON Semiconductor is proud to support this team, sponsoring building materials for the team's robot and furthering STEAM education. Team parent, Sharolyn noted, “Prior to ON Semiconductor's generous donation, only a few kids had the opportunity to program and build the robot. However, with the extra resources provided by ON Semiconductor, now every kid on the team has had hours to program and experiment with robot designs. It’s been remarkable.” At the end of our regular season, like a scene from a Disney movie with everyone contributing, our team won first place for their Innovation Project, securing their spot to compete at the South Idaho FIRST® Lego League State Championship Tournament. 

Over the last few weeks, the kids have revamped their robot design and presented their Innovation Project—ideas to make our local Benton Street Overpass safer for cyclists and pedestrians—to members of the Pocatello City Planning and Engineering Staff and City Council. Coaching these kids has shown me that the world will be a different place because of their budding creativity and excitement. 

Colby, in his fifth and final year of participating in FLL, commenting on his experience stating that, “When you join Lego Robotics, you meet hundreds of people who have similar interests to you. I’ve found that the things I’ve learned about myself and about others have been instrumental to my knowledge, almost as much as the skills and facts I’ve learned. I have learned so much about my team and feel that we’ve become an FLL family." 

As we are in the final frenzy before the state championship, the continued support and flexibility I’ve been afforded at work has allowed The Benton Street Builders countless hours to build their robot, enhancing their technical and interpersonal skills and fostering treasured friendships – all things important in the life of a child. Wish us luck at state!

In 2019, ON Semiconductor donated over $2 million globally to support STEAM, human services, health, disaster relief and environmental causes. Of that total, ON Semiconductor has invested close to $1 million through workplace giving (such as matching employee donations as well as supporting in-kind requests and sponsorships from employees).

Learn more about our corporate giving program today and how we're furthering STEAM education in our communities