International pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

In North Carolina, that mission statement is realized in part through the company’s corporate contributions and through its foundation, which provide funds and in-kind support to educational and research projects across the state.

GlaxoSmithKline is this year’s recipient of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center’s Business and Industry Award in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education for its work to strengthen those disciplines in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs.

“Glaxo stands out because it does have a focus on math and science,” says Melanie Scott, senior program associate at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which has supported programs in cooperation with the company. “Among organizations that support education in this area, they stand out in science.”

One of the many programs company has contributed to is the Teachers and Scientists Collaborating Program, a joint effort launched with Duke University and the National Science Foundation in 2002. The program was designed to provide students the opportunity to undertake scientific endeavors and learn to think critically and creatively. It provided teacher training and educational tools to an initial group of four school districts with the goal of reaching more than 250,000 students.

Early on, GlaxoSmithKline contributed office and training space for the program and also made warehouse space available to store the educational materials. When the initial support from the National Science Foundation came to an end and the program was picked up by the Center for Inquiry Based Learning, GlaxoSmithKline remained a supportive partner during the transition.

“It is very difficult for a small organization to make those transitions because they are beginning to support their own salaries that were (initially) funded through the grant,” says Scott. “So having an organization that is willing to provide the space, you can eliminate your overhead costs … so you don’t have to spend your money on the overhead and you can spend it on transitioning.”

The Teachers and Scientists Collaborating program, which now serves 14 school districts and annually trains about 2,000 teachers, is but one success story made possible through the generosity of GlaxoSmithKline. Others include the Women in Science Program, for which the company provided scholarships to women pursuing undergraduate degrees in science at 29 universities, and the teacher development program at Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which benefited from a four-year $105,000 grant from the company.

Furthering its commitment to enable people to do more, GlaxoSmithKline also has become a primary participant in the Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council with Durham Public Schools. Composed of 35 Durham-area business leaders, the council meets quarterly to discuss issues and programs of interest to the business and educational communities. The partnership forms bridges between the workforce and the classroom in North Carolina.

“They’re doing an array of business and education programs in an effective way,” says Carr Thompson, senior program and communications officer at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

And it’s that commitment to education and research, Thompson says, that makes GlaxoSmithKline a “good corporate citizen.”