When A.J. (Tony) Pasant, a Lansing insurance salesman, launched the Jackson National Life Insurance Company® in 1961, he and his family had two goals.
First, to provide customers with the best products, tools and support to meet their retirement goals. Within a decade the company had opened offices across the U.S.
In 1995, the highly successful enterprise broadened its product offerings and, while that strategy turned the company into a multi-billion-dollar insurance juggernaut with employees in all 50 states, it is the second goal achieved by its founding family – and carried on by employees - that has nonprofits and the people they serve across the nation heralding it as a model charitable corporate leader.
“Jackson is dedicated to contributing to the social and economic well-being of the communities in which we are an employer,” says Danielle Robinson, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Jackson. “We also encourage our employees to participate in projects and initiatives that strengthen those communities.”
Headquartered in Lansing, the company is one of the newest members to join the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF).
To achieve its philanthropic goals, the insurance company created the Jackson National Community Fund (JNCF) in 2007 which today provides more than $3 million per year to charitable causes across the nation, with a special emphasis on enhancing the lives of children and the elderly.
The JNFC awards grants in Lansing, Denver, Chicago and Nashville and employee donation efforts and volunteerism occur in cities and surrounding areas where Jackson offices are located.
“Corporate donations and sponsorships are directed to charitable organizations that our employees care about,” notes Robinson.
Jackson employees are involved in the company’s charitable efforts every step of the way.
The JNCF Advisory Committee, consisting of employees, makes recommendations on all grant requests to the JNCF Executive Committee. Employees are also involved in many charitable projects throughout the year, logging more than 9,000 volunteer hours annually together as a company.
Since the JNCF was launched, Jackson has awarded numerous grants to children- and elderly-focused charities, such as The Alzheimer's Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Club, Ele's Place, Judi's House, Junior Achievement, The March of Dimes and Meals on Wheels.
“For the last 10 years we’ve held Ele’s Race (a healing center for grieving children) on our (Lansing headquarter) campus,” says Robinson. “Ele’s Race is a 5K with more than 1,400 runners and walkers participating. Holding Ele’s Race at our office makes it easy for our employees to get involved as volunteers, donors and participants.”
To bolster its corporate giving program, Jackson also sponsors a generous 2-to-1 matching gift to those charities focused on select children and elderly programs and initiatives, up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee per year.
The company’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Last year, Michigan’s First Lady Sue Snyder, who serves as the statewide spokesperson for Ele’s Place, presented a special award to Michael A. Wells, Jackson’s president/CEO, “for the profound impact their Lansing associates have made on the lives of grieving children” at Ele’s Place.
“Jackson’s continued financial support is especially important to Ele’s Place as we support more grieving children than ever before,” says Laurie Strauss Baumer, Ele’s Place president/CEO.
Jackson is just as proud of its focused support for the elderly, notes Robinson.
“We recently participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” she says. “We fundraised in the office and we raised more than $30,000. The walk itself raised more than $150,000 for the Alzheimer Association, so it was a really good one. The event was held at the state capitol so it not only raised funds, but also a great deal of awareness for the important mission of the Alzheimer’s Association.”
Providing volunteer time is just as important as making a financial donation at Jackson, shares Robinson.
“We (Jackson employees) do a ton of employee volunteer work…and we love to volunteer with all the partners we provide financial support to,” she adds. “We have employees, for example, who take the time to deliver on a Meals on Wheels Monday through Friday all year long.
“Projects like that are going on all the time here,” says Robinson. “That’s one of the many reasons Jackson is such a great place to work!”
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