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The Opportunity of a Lifetime… a Lifetime of Opportunity: A Conversation With Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation President-Elect Jane Hale Hopkins



Jane Hale Hopkins (right) will succeed J. Mark Davis as president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation later this year.


“From an early age, I knew I wanted my profession to be a calling of purpose,” says Jane Hale Hopkins, president-elect of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “I went to a liberal arts college where training of the heart, as well as training of the mind, was preached and prioritized.”


Jane Hale Hopkins

Hopkins, who will succeed J. Mark Davis later this year, joined the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation in 2001 as a finance manager. She’d spent time in New York City after college working on a master’s in public administration from NYU and co-founding a nonprofit called Serve It Up, a community service-minded network of young professionals. The Lexington, Kentucky native was eyeing a return to her native South when she launched a job search in the pre-social media, pre-smartphone era.

“I remember going to the New York Public Library every Sunday afternoon to get on a computer and access the weekly job blast from the Southeastern Council of Foundations,” she recalls. “There were always jobs in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, but eventually one came up at a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta.”

Davis was especially impressed with Hopkins’ involvement with Serve it Up, which aligned with the mission of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. They met in New York on Nov. 7, 2000, the night of the infamous Bush/Gore presidential election.

“I remember being really excited after the interview, then coming home and sitting up all night watching the results come in on TV,” she said.

She had the job a few weeks later and, over the last 17 years, she has worked to develop an influential community of socially conscious and service-minded Coca-Cola Scholar leaders who share a passion for making a difference. Now, she’s poised to take over the reins in a milestone year as the Foundation celebrates its 30thclass.

We spoke with Hopkins ahead of the third-annual Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit in Atlanta to learn more about her vision for the future of the Foundation.


Jane with Harvard Scholars

Hopkins (second from left) with Coca-Cola Scholars at Harvard University.

Why is now an exciting time to be stepping into this role?

This is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. Winning the Coca-Cola Program scholarship is an opportunity of a lifetime for a high school senior. From there, it’s also finding and identifying equally incredible opportunities throughout your lifetime like this one. We’re at a really special place in the history of the Foundation. We’ve been doing this for 30 years and have stayed true to our mission to reward future leaders in the communities where we do business with a four-year college scholarship. But what Mark started was this idea of building a community. The scholarship is really important, of course, but it’s also the ongoing engagement we provide. Coke Scholars are all extraordinary individuals. But together as a network, they become a really powerful catalyst for positive change. That’s why we not only identify the brightest minds in the country, but take steps to nurture those relationships over the years. And now, 30 years in, we have a network of 6,000 Scholars.

What will be your initial priorities?

We’re embarking on a journey from a transactional organization to a transformational organization. We’re thinking really intentionally about how we want to continue to show up in these leaders’ lives. We’re developing a roadmap for how Scholars engage with the Foundation to ensure we’re meeting them where they are throughout their lives. We want to clearly articulate what Scholars can expect to get and what they can expect to give back.

When we bring Scholars to Atlanta every April for Scholars Weekend, we do a full Leadership Development Institute. We teach four key values of leadership: self-awareness, empathy, inspiration, and vision. The idea is to teach them a leadership framework from the inside out, so they’re reflecting on themselves or understanding themselves. We bring in 30 Scholar alumni to teach the curriculum. It becomes a check-in for them – to ensure the values that were important to them as high school seniors and that helped them win the scholarship continue to show up as they evolve. We want to continue to be a reminder of those values as they leave college and embark on their careers and start families.

We also will spend time identifying strategic partners around the country and world to help us advance our mission. Finally, we want to intertwine Coca-Cola Scholars more closely with our brands in ways our company and bottlers can pick up on easily.


Scholars Group

Hopkins with Scholars at the 2016 Coca-Cola Scholars Service Summit in Austin, Texas.

What sets the Coca-Cola Scholars Program apart from other scholarships?

A competitive advantage for us is the sense of family. At Coca-Cola, the people truly make the magic. And I think we’ve been able to extend that magic to our community of Scholars. Mark always says, “We want to be part of their lives as long as they’ll have us.”

How do you measure success of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program?

For some scholarship programs, retention or graduation rates are the primary measures of success. For us, we select 150 of the brightest minds in the country. They graduate. So from there, you start thinking about how to define network strength and influence. And I’m not sure that we’ve totally figured out how to do that yet. We got some really good data from an impact survey we did about a year ago. For example, over 80 percent of the Scholars we surveyed said the Scholars community is one of the top three professional networks they belong to. Engagement is another key metric for us. We want to keep as many Scholars connected to the community long after they graduate.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My goal with everyone is to connect each person on our team with their purpose and help make others better even when I’m not around. I’m not an overly hands-on leader… I’m very trusting. We have a great team committed to the values we’ve instituted within the Leadership Development Institute. Personally, I’m always on a quest to learn more about myself and continually reinvent myself and show up as a better version in my life. That’s really important to me. I’m an avid reader and journaler, and I’m very disciplined in my athletic endeavors. I run and practice Pilates and hot yoga – which all helps keep the snakes out of my head.

Tell us about the third-annual Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit that kicked off yesterday and runs through the weekend.

The goal is to bring Scholars together in a way that inspires them to bring positive change to their communities. We’re expecting around 450 Scholars this weekend. We’ll have a mix of outside speakers and Scholars, and several breakout sessions. Anytime we put this many Scholars in a room, we like to say magic happens. All of our lives are elevated. So it’s a chance for them to learn from each other, hear about what others are doing in their communities, and hopefully leave inspired to take action.


-Coca-Cola Company

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Corporate Citizenship

Coronavirus: Dangote donate N200m to curb the spread in Nigeria




The Aliko Dangote Foundation has earmarked N124million that will support facilities to help prevent, assess and respond to health events at Point of Entry to ensure National Health Security

LAGOS, Nigeria, Marc– The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) yesterday pledged a whooping sum of N200million to support current effort of the Nigerian government towards curbing the spread of Corona Virus or Covid-19 in the country.

ADF’s intervention is considered the largest single donation by a corporate organization in the country to contain the spread of coronavirus since Nigeria recorded its first index case last month in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aliko Dangote Foundation Ms. Zouera Youssoufou, represented by the Health and Nutrition Programme Officer Maryam Shehu-Buhari, at a donor coordinating meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 said the donation was part of the Foundation’s cardinal objective of partnering with governments at all levels against the dreaded disease in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

The Foundation is also the only Nigerian donor that attended the meeting and made monetary pledge.

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To this extent, she said the Aliko Dangote Foundation has earmarked N124million that will support facilities to help prevent, assess and respond to health events at Point of Entry to ensure National Health Security.

Ms Youssoufou also highlighted other areas of intervention to include surveillance and epidemiology, where facilities worth N36million will be provided by the Foundation to support government’s effort.

According to her the ADF will also donate N48million for case management training of health workers.

Speaking at the meeting facilitated by World Bank, the Country Director represented by the Operations Manager Ms. Kathleen Whimp identified four thematic areas to tackling the spread of COVID 19. These are: Regular communication with the public, contact tracing, training of volunteers and international co-operations.

Speaking also, the Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. John Oladejo said some of the challenges, going forwarded include lack of enough isolation centres, contact tracing, training of volunteers, international cooperation, fake news and panic, among others.

Mr. Noel Chisaka of the Regional Disease Surveillance System Enhancement Project commended the Aliko Dangote Foundation for the contribution and encouraged others to join in the fight against Covid-19.

Other donors invited to the meeting include: WHO, UNICEF, BMGF, RTSL, EU, USAID, US CDC, DFID, Public Health England, GIZ, JICA, Africa CDC, WAHO, PHI, MTN, Red Cross, IFRC and AFENET. 

According to reports there are a total of 90,936 confirmed cases worldwide – although more than half of those (47,995) have already recovered. The biggest numbers are still by far in mainland China (80,151), followed by South Korea (4,812), Italy (2,036) and Iran (1,501). Japan has 274 confirmed cases, France 191, Germany 165, Spain 120, Singapore 108, US 106, and Hong Kong 100. There are also cases in South America, Africa and Australia.

The total death toll stands at 3,117 with 2,936 of those coming from China. The countries with the next highest numbers are Iran (66), Italy (52) and South Korea (29).There have also been deaths in Japan, the US, France, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

It would be recalled that the Aliko Dangote foundation also committed N1billion in the fight against the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa, helping to build resilience and strengthen Nigeria’s health system in a manner expected to endure beyond the Ebola crisis period.

The foundation’s support during the Ebola crisis ensured the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC) in Yaba, Lagos; provision of 12 units of thermal cameras across Nigeria’s International Airports with training for 160 staff/personnel of the Federal Ministry of Health, Port Health Services Department, on the use of the thermal cameras; provision of W.H.O-certified Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs and comprehensive logistics support for the returnee volunteers on Ebola intervention across countries ravaged by Ebola. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had then commended Mr. Aliko Dangote for what he described as “remarkable sacrifices in eradicating Ebola virus disease and polio in Nigeria.”

Dangote Group

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Corporate Citizenship

Sahara Group’s Innovation Hackathon Winners Emerge




Lagos, Nigeria– The curtains have been drawn on the maiden edition of the Sahara Innovation Week, an initiative birthed with a vision to foster knowledge sharing and inventions that boost Sahara’s value proposition globally, with Sahara’s first Innovation Hackathon producing winners across the Group.

The Hackathon which focused on service excellence around operational efficiency, customer experience and data optimisation & monetisation, attracted various submissions from different teams across the Group, and after rigorous assessment by various judges, Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc emerged as overall winners.

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Speaking at the award ceremony, Executive Director, Kola Adesina stated that “to reach greater heights, and to stay relevant, we must embrace innovation,” reiterating that Management would support innovative ideas and transform them for optimized implementation. Adesina disclosed that Management would transform the overall winning idea into a business enterprise in which the innovators will have shares.

Team GIS; Winners of the 2019 Sahara Innovation Hackathon

The winners include Ayodele Alonge and Opeyemi Adaramola of Team BRAVO from Centrum Properties Limited, Ernest Efenador of Team OXYGEN from Egbin Power Plc, Chiedozie Ilechie, Chukwuemeka Azodo and Terkuma Ivande of Team REMACS from First Independent Power Limited, and Mobolaji Fayomade, Emmanuel Oyerinde and Chijioke Emeruwa of Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc.

The top four winning teams went home with $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. Emphasizing the importance of technology and innovation to the future of Sahara Group, Executive Director, Temitope Shonubi said: “We see technology as that system that makes things better, easier, improves customer efficiency and operational effectiveness. This will drive what we do much more in the coming years at Sahara”.

Ayodele Alonge, one of the winners, from Centrum Properties Limited, the real estate arm of the Group, described the Hackathon as a challenging and rewarding exercise. “This award has changed my life. In fact, I’ll be adding this achievement to my LinkedIn profile ‘Sahara Innovation Week winner, 2019’,”she stated.

Other activities including Innovation Trivia, where winners went home with virtual reality gift items, Innovation showcase and knowledge sharing sessions, provided useful insight into the innovation path to Sahara’s future.

Sahara Group

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Corporate Citizenship

Dolphin Senior High School Wins Sahara Group’s Chess Competition




Lagos, Nigeria– Dolphin Senior High School in Lagos has emerged winners of Sahara Group’s #CleanLoveFeb Chess Competition which was organized as part of the energy conglomerate’s ongoing campaign against substance abuse, especially among young people.

The competition featured two players each from four government owned schools including Dolphin Senior High School, Boys’ Senior Academy, Girls’ Senior Academy and Ebute Elefun Senior High School, all located within Lagos Island.

The chess tourney, according to Bethel Obioma, Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, was designed to serve as a platform to inspire young people to look to sports, books and educative web portals for recreation and academic excellence. “Chess is a game that stimulates mental alertness and critical thinking. We chose public secondary schools to encourage the students to  aspire to challenging for laurels in a game that is considered elitist. The competition also served the purpose of creating awareness on the dangers of substance abuse and inspiring these young future leaders to channel their energies into activities that will help them realise their dreams,” he said.

At the preliminary stage which held on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the four schools competed intensely and played skillfully for over four hours before Dolphin Senior High School and Boys’ Senior Academy made it to the finals.

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The finals featured four students from the two schools. Odusanya Isaac of Dolphin Senior High School competed against Olabode Quadri of Boys Senior Academy, while Lediju Abul-Lateef of Dolphin Senior High School played against Amoo Mubarak of Boys’ Senior Academy.

At the end of the competition, both contestants from Dolphin Senior High School outplayed their opponents to emerge as the overall winners of Sahara Group’s #CleanLoveFeb chess competition. Lejidu Abdul-Lateef went on to checkmate his way to claim the coveted Best Player of the Tournament Award.

The elated Abdul-Lateef said: “This is a very happy moment for me, and I am proud of what I have achieved. I also learned a lot from the session we had about substance abuse when Sahara Group brought a Psychiatrist, Dr. Tunde Fadipe to tell us more about saying no to substance abuse in any form. I hope to keep learning and playing the game and possibly end up as a grand master someday.”

Finalists from both schools photographed with Bethel Obioma (middle) Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group

All finalists were rewarded with prizes including books, Sahara corporate souvenirs and chess sets to the schools to encourage the cultivation of the chess-playing culture.

The competition which was implemented through Sahara’s Personal and Corporate Social Responsibility vehicle, Sahara Foundation, enlisted the support of the INVENT Programme, a mentoring platform for in- school youth.

The Sahara #CleanLoveCampaign which also includes other activities across the energy giant’s locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East continues for the rest of the month of February.

Sahara Group

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