Ramani Ayer, chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., will be presented this week with the first-ever 2003 Polaris Award for his efforts in support of public education in the city of Hartford.
Leadership Greater Hartford, together with The Courant Community Fund and Fox 61 Family fund, funds of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, will honor Ayer, along with four other Polaris Leaders, at a gala celebration hosted by Mayor Eddie Perez and Congressman John Larson at the Learning Corridor on Thursday, Nov. 13. Hartford Symphony Orchestra Conductor Edward Cumming will serve as master of ceremonies.
In recognizing Ayer, Leadership Greater Hartford President Ted Carroll said, “Ramani’s leadership on public education support has helped marshal significant resources for teachers and students at a time when they are needed most. We created the Polaris Award to honor local leaders who demonstrate courage, vision and innovation and make a lasting, meaningful impact on the quality of life in Greater Hartford.” The award is named after Polaris, the night sky’s brightest star and most important navigational guide.
Since taking the helm of The Hartford in 1997, Ayer has focused the company’s philanthropic strategy on improving educational opportunities for Hartford city students in grades K-12 and helping them further their academic careers. The company’s goal is to help ensure that by 2010 all graduating high school seniors continue their education at a two- or four-year college or university.
Ayer said, “There is no better way to ensure a bright future for our home city than to help it grow into a nationally recognized center of academic excellence. I am honored to receive the Polaris Award.”
The Hartford contributes about $2 million annually to education, funding two scholarship programs, academic-enrichment programs, teacher-training sessions, and donations of computers and technological equipment, in addition to numerous other initiatives. Many of its employees volunteer as reading buddies, tutors and mentors.
“Businesses must recognize that the students of today are the workers of tomorrow,” said Ayer. “Nothing is more important to the future of American enterprise, or indeed, to the strength of our country, than providing the best possible education for all of our nation’s youth.”
The Hartford maintains partnerships with three schools in the neighborhood surrounding its world headquarters: West Middle Elementary School, Quirk Middle School and Hartford Public High School. Working closely with the schools’ administrators and the school system’s superintendent, the company focuses support on areas of need they identify.
In recent months, other companies in the Greater Hartford area have followed The Hartford’s lead by adopting a local school. Additionally, The Hartford is spearheading a collaboration of 11 corporations that fund local education initiatives to maximize their collective impact on student achievement.
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