Billionaire tech chief Marc Benioff, the founder of enterprise software giant Salesforce (CRM), recently set forth a challenge for all CEOs: Adopt a public school.
Education is a perpetually hot topic, and something that featured prominently in a 2020 Democratic debate earlier this month. Amid growing pushback against alternatives like charter schools, Salesforce’s chief voiced his support for publicly-funded schoolhouses — and called on others to do the same.
"I think every CEO has to adopt a public school. I have," Benioff told Yahoo Finance during a recent wide-ranging interview at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
In his new book, "Trailblazer," Benioff writes about how several years ago, he made an unannounced visit to Presidio Middle School, one of his neighborhood's public schools.
He didn't have an appointment or a plan, but walked in and introduced himself to the principal. He explained that he wanted to help.
Since that impromptu school visit, Salesforce has adopted 107 public schools, and all of the company’s executives have as well.
"We've given over $70 million of direct cash investment to our local San Francisco and Oakland public schools,” Benioff told Yahoo Finance.
“Plus, the volunteerism, the mentoring, the technology that goes with it — a full package in partnership with the superintendents and the principals,” he added. “These are the things CEOs can do.”
Benioff said that CEOs of big companies could also visit their local public school and make an introduction and commitment to help.
"You'd be surprised at the power your company can have to improve your local public schools. And do you want to know who are in the schools? It's the children of your employees. So it's in your interest to do that," he added.
He added that they've seen "dramatic results," including improved math scores — and a gain in underrepresented minorities and women involved in computer science.
"These are very important things to us and something that we're committed to doing over the long term,” Benioff added.