At Work: Partnerships - Business partner

Mathew Little

DSGi's partnership with the e-Learning Foundation has a New Labour feel.

Dixons founder Stanley Kalms may be a Tory traditionalist and one of the party's biggest donors, but the company of which he is now life president has developed a charity partnership in tune with New Labour's policies on social exclusion.

DSGi Group's £450,000, three-year charity partnership with the e-Learning Foundation to fund schools to provide disadvantaged young people with home computers is unusual in that the funds are matched by the Department for Education and Skills. The Switched on Communities campaign was launched in July by Labour's education mastermind, Lord Adonis, who lauded it as "bringing the best of the private sector into direct communication with the work of schools".

According to Clare Brine, community relations manager at DSGi: "Government policy in this area was a consideration, but we are Europe's largest electrical retailer, and it's what we can add value to." The group, owner of brands such as Currys, PC World and Dixons.co.uk, has also broken the conventions of corporate-charity partnerships by eschewing traditional causes, such as cancer or children, and backing a small, niche organisation. "We could have supported all sorts of causes, but it makes sense for us to work with groups that do what we do," says Brine.

For the e-Learning Foundation, the partnership is worth at least £1m and will be bolstered by in-store and staff fundraising throughout the DSGi group.

The charity has already given grants to four schools, benefiting 700 children. The promise of new corporate partnerships is also on the horizon.

"The Government is very pleased with what we've done and this year it has offered to match funding from any other corporates," says Simone Enefer-Doy, fundraising director at the foundation.

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