Supporting education and youth development is a critical component of our youth tobacco prevention efforts and contributes to the health of our communities. An educated community helps our communities thrive and contributes to a high-quality future workforce for our companies.
RAI, its subsidiaries and foundations support public-school and community programs that prepare children to enter school ready to learn, as well as programs that focus on improving academic performance of low-performing and economically disadvantaged students. Our National Merit Scholarship Program rewards the hard-working children of our employees and retirees by providing support for their collegiate education.
Corporate and foundation giving is coordinated with our YTP efforts, including the We Card Program and Right Decisions Right Now: Be Tobacco Free (RDRN), our free youth tobacco prevention program. In addition to providing funding for these programs, we encourage employee engagement in RDRN by making grants to youth groups that participate in the program. Employees also have training available and can get assistance in ways to effectively present RDRN to youth.
In 2015, 486 employees presented the RDRN program to approximately 250 youth groups, earning those groups about $250,000 in grant money. In 2015, employee participation in the program increased more than 65 percent over the prior year. Giving time and talent to their community not only makes our employees proud to work for RAI companies, it also engages them in a way that strengthens their sense of purpose around Transforming Tobacco, deepens relationships with their communities and strengthens bonds with colleagues.
RDRN Participation by Year
In 2015, our educational giving also included support of: