Every Tuesday during the school year, employees from John Wiley and Sons volunteer their time to read to kindergarten through third grade students at the Wallace Elementary School. About 35 employees are currently participating in the company’s Read Aloud Program. This is a fitting task for the Wiley employees, considering that the firm is one of the world’s most renowned publishers of scientific, technical, medical books, journals and other educational materials.
When Wiley opened up its global headquarters in Hoboken in 2002 and moved almost 900 employees to its offices on the south waterfront, it instantly became the city’s largest employer. Hoping to be a good neighbor, the firm has launched an ambitious community outreach program.
“We’re a company that publishes educational materials that help students learn, and help teachers teach,” Susan Spilka, director of corporate communications for Wiley, said Thursday. “Our volunteer program is just an extension of that mission.”
Wiley also offers scholarships to local students, donates school supplies to needy students, runs a toy drive to benefit a local community center, donates books and computers to the public library, contributes to St. Mary Hospital’s capital fund and sponsors its annual 5K race, matches contributions to the Sept. 11 Memorial Fund, and gives to the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club.
Deborah E. Wiley, chairman of The Wiley Foundation, and senior vice president for John Wiley & Sons, Inc., added that one of the most exciting aspects of the company’s move to Hoboken has been the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to this community.
Before moving to Hoboken, Wiley and Sons, was based in Manhattan for 198 years. While they still had a sizable outreach and volunteer program, the shear size of New York City sometimes made their efforts feel like a “drop in the bucket.”
But in Hoboken, a city of only around 40,000 residents, a company of Wiley’s size can have a more visible impact, Wiley said.
“All of the sudden we became a big fish in a smaller pond and can really make a major difference,” Wiley said. “That’s something that we have found to be very rewarding.”
For the students
In addition to the Read Aloud program, Wiley also offers a $5,000 annual scholarship to a Hoboken student. The scholarship is awarded to a public school student who will be the first in their family to attend college.
Last year the scholarship went to Lydia Vega, who is now at Northeastern University in Boston. Wiley also sponsors an after school work program. Five Hoboken High School students are employed by the company on weekday afternoons.
Wiley said that these are real jobs, where they can learn first-hand how the publishing industry works. She also said that the program participants are offered full-time employment in the summers.
“They don’t just stand over a copier and do some busywork,” Wiley said. “They are given an opportunity to use some real brainpower and earn a competitive wage.”
One of the biggest benefactors of Wiley has been the Jubilee Center, on the city’s west side near the housing projects. The center, which opened in 2003, is run by the of All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation. It helps area kids by offering tutoring, computer literacy, entrepreneurial training, cooperative learning and problem-solving activities, drug-prevention education, health and nutrition workshops, and opportunities for creative expression through dance, visual arts, creative writing, music, and theater for young children and teens.
In addition to financial contributions and donations of refurbished computers, Wiley also recently organized a “Leaders in the Community Luncheon” for local politicians, business owners, and other organizations that give to charity.
For a non-profit organization such as the Jubilee Center, which relies heavily on private contributions and public grants, having the opportunity to network with the city’s decision-makers is imperative.
Other charitable giving
In recent years, Wiley has also supported many local and national organizations whose programs enrich lives, foster learning; expand educational opportunities, and provide relief during times of disaster.
These have included the Hoboken Historical Museum, Liberty Science Center, New York Public Library, the National Book Foundation, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Museum of Natural History, New York City Ballet, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Special Libraries Association, American Geographical Society and the American Institute of Physics.