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February 25, 2008

Goodyear's Diversity Program

Goodyear2 During the Speedweeks, Goodyear introduced its new Racing and Diversity program in conjunction with NASCAR.

“Goodyear is proud to offer deserving high school students a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the wide variety of career opportunities available through the sport of NASCAR,” said Kris Kienzl, NASCAR Marketing Manager at Goodyear.  “Thanks to our longstanding, uninterrupted involvement with NASCAR, we are able to provide an inside look at career paths from engineering and design to marketing and promotions, with mentors from all over the sport, whether from NASCAR, individual race teams, tracks or Goodyear.”

In its first year, the Goodyear Racing and Diversity program has already provided more than 60 high school students from across the country the chance to experience NASCAR first-hand and receive a behind-the-scenes look at a NASCAR race.  Students participating in these events had to maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and be in good standing in their school and local community to become eligible to apply for race-weekend internships.  Once selected, students are paired with one or more ‘mentors’ in career areas of interest to them for two, six-hour days of work.  Those students who complete their race-weekend internships are then eligible to apply for one of six scholarships, including five $2,000 awards and one $30,000 scholarship to be used towards their continuing education.

“NASCAR is proud to partner with Goodyear in creating this new program and looks forward to helping them provide meaningful career experiences for promising high school students across the country,”,” said Marcus Jadotte, Managing Director, Public Affairs for NASCAR.

Eboni Washington and Rodrigo Bernal attended the Pepsi 400 in Daytona Beach last July with 10 other area students, receiving a behind-the-scenes tour of the pits and Goodyear Racing’s tire operations, and watching the race from the stands.   

We talked with Kris Kienzl about the program.

Tell us about Goodyear's Racing and Diversity program?
As the exclusive tire supplier of NASCAR’s three largest series, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company today officially unveiled the Goodyear Racing and Diversity Program, an initiative the company started to provide High School students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the many career paths offered through the sport of NASCAR.  The program, offered in six areas including Daytona Beach , Los Angeles , Atlanta , Dallas , Detroit and Dover (DE), will provide more than 60 interested minority students annually with a graduated program of at-track experiences, internships and ultimately, the opportunity to receive one of six scholarships to help continue their education. 

How did this program come about?
With our renewed contract (2008-2012) as the exclusive tire supplier to NASCAR's top three racing series, Goodyear is continuing its long and successful relationship with NASCAR, and we wanted to further demonstrate our commitment to the sport by getting involved on the grass roots level.  As a long-term supplier to NASCAR and an integral part of the sport, Goodyear has intimate knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes and we felt we were uniquely positioned to give young people from diverse backgrounds an insider’s view of the wide variety of career options available through the sport.

What is Goodyear hoping to achieve with it?
Goodyear sells consumer tires to everyone in the US … a truly diverse population.  We want to open these kids’ eyes to all the opportunities available to them through the sport.  Goodyear is all about helping people ‘Get there’ with our innovative tires - - whether it is NASCAR drivers on the track or a consumer in their daily life activities - - our goal with this program is to give a boost to promising young High School students and make a difference in their ability to achieve their higher education goals – whether that be a technical school or all the way through to a four-year college.

How many fields of interest were Eboni and Rodrigo allowed to choose between for their weekend race internships?
We ask the students where their areas of interest lie and provide them with a broad list of possible areas that they could experience during their internship.  Based on their feedback, we arrange for them to spend quality time with professionals from across the spectrum of available careers in those interest areas. Eboni is interested in Engineering, and she will be spending time with Goodyear engineers, NASCAR team members and the Competition side of NASCAR… and Rod, with his interest in media, communications and broadcasting, will be spending time with Track and NASCAR media relations members, the ESPN broadcasting team and other marketing and communications professionals.  All in all, they’ll each experience at least half a dozen different career functions up close and personal.

Goodyear_2 How were students selected to be part of the program?
In each market, Goodyear works with local high schools and other local youth organizations to help us recruit and choose the students to participate in our program.  In Daytona, we worked with Mainland High School and Junior Achievement.  A dozen students attended the first phase of the program, an at-track experience in July of 2007.  Those students were then eligible to apply for this weekend internship.  They had to meet academic requirements as well as complete an application which included an essay and a recommendation from a teacher or counselor.

How do people get involved?
This is the first year of our program, so at this point we are working with local High Schools and community organizations in each of our first six markets ( Daytona Beach , Los Angeles , Atlanta , Dallas , Detroit and Dover , DE ).  As the program continues through its first year, more information will become available as we develop a special section on the Goodyear web site and a stand-alone Goodyear Racing and Diversity MySpace page… so stay tuned!

Why is it important to Goodyear as a company to offer such a program?
Again, consumers buying Goodyear’s tires are really a true reflection of the diverse nature of the population in the United States .  This program can help us reach a greater portion of this diverse population and make a difference in the lives of talented young people through our connections in the world of NASCAR.

Lindapic_noman2 by Linda Przygodski
Contriuting Editor

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