When College Students Meet Adults Engaged in Civic Activity for the first time. Other Topics

Posted on February 26, 2016

When college students visit a civic group doing forest creation and preservation work to report on its activities, participate in the activities themselves, and write articles about their experience, how can you call this just another public relations stunt by an environmental conservation group?



By allowing college students to gain an understanding of civic activity, this program has cultivated the next generation of civic activists. Kao Corporation, a major chemical and cosmetics company with its headquarters in Tokyo, has been engaged in just that by supporting young people through the “Creating Forests for Everyone” program for the past ten years.


What kinds of students participate in the program?

In the Creating Forests for Everyone Program, students without volunteering experience, who initially do not have much interest in environmental protection or civic activities, have deliberately chosen . These students are sent to report on an environmental organization that Kao Corporation has been supporting through their grant program.

The social circles of ordinary college students in the cities consist of school, family, part-time work, and extracurricular activities. There are not a lot of opportunities for them to go beyond their everyday lives to meet and build relationships with adults who have different sets of values from them and are engaged in activities they have never tried. So when these students visit various nonprofits through this program and interact with the people there, they will become aware of the existence and the social significance of nonprofits.  Indeed, this program believes in the importance of young people, in whose hands lie our future, becoming more conscious of how social problems are solved, and realizing that the resolution of these problems depends is not only on the government, also on but private corporations like Kao as well as citizens themselves.




Creating an image of corporate social contributions

Interestingly, many students have biased views of corporations that make social contributions. The surveys of students prior to their participation in the program reveal a belief that  corporations are only interested in making profit, and that any social contribution activities they engage in are meant to complement profit-generating activities.

Contrary to these students’ beliefs, corporations are conscious of the need to maintain a sustainable society in order to keep producing good products. This program reflects Kao’s beliefs as a corporation that rather than trying to fill the gaps left by negative influences in society, we should work proactively to build up a society that is more susceptible to positive influences. These students will become workers in corporations and consumers who purchase products in the near future, and the Creating Forests for Everyone Program aims to provide opportunities for them to think about corporate social contributions and sustainability.


A “Win-Win-Win” Relationship

By working as reporters for half a year, students create an exciting space for intergenerational interaction within the organizations that have been steadily engaged in forest creation work in their region. Many forest creation organizations are made up of elderly citizens from the region, and lack the involvement of young people as well as people in the prime of their working lives. As reporting is done from the students’ perspective, the organizations also receive an outside perspective on the true worth of their activities. This program has generated win-win interactions and relationships for all three parties: the corporation, the nonprofits, and the students.

This program allows college students to get accustomed to the world of nonprofit activities and corporate social contribution programs, neither of which they may encounter in their everyday lives. Reporting also allows for them to get experience and training in telling others about  important topics. These experiences nurture their critical minds and encourage them to take ownership by taking action, all during a time in their lives when they are preparing to enter the real world.



About Kao’s Creating Forests for Everyone (Kao Minna-no-Mori-no-Oendan) Program

Corporation x Environmental nonprofits x College students

Partnering with Kao Corporation, the Project aims to facilitate a dialogue on environmental issues across generations, and raise awareness for future environmental protection. College students visit environmental groups engaging in forest-building and write an online article about the group and on their experience, which can be read here. Between2014 and 2006, approximately 90 college students have worked as news reporters and written articles about nonprofits working on forest management.

Kao Minna-no-Mori-no-Oendan Program (Japanese)