Focus: Corporate Responsibility - I Can to trade knowledge for cash in link-up with BT

Anita Pati, anita.pati@haynet.com

Joint work will allow charity to access company's business operations and reach out to more children.

I Can, the children's communication charity, has struck up a partnership with BT's Education Programme that involves the charity trading its expertise for cash and resources.

BT already provides resources for primary and secondary schools, but the partnership will allow it to tap into I Can's knowledge about younger children so it can develop training packs for under-fives. In turn, I Can will be able to make use of BT's production, marketing and general business operations. For example, if the charity needs advice designing fundraising material, BT will help it out. It also hopes to reach out to BT's 83,000 employees.

The deal was made last month as part of I Can's Make Chatter Matter campaign and BT's Communications Skills for Life community investment programme. BT would not say how much it was donating, but I Can is the biggest recipient of funding from BT's £3.2m education programme.

Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive at I Can, said: "Joining forces makes absolute sense. It will allow us to reach more children, families and early years workers and amplify our messages through a stronger, shared voice.

"There is a synergy between I Can's work and BT's Communication Skills for Life programme. BT shares I Can's passion for promoting communication as the key life skill to ensure children start school with the communication skills they need to be all they can be."

Dave Hancock, head of education and volunteering at BT, said the partnership with I Can had "pioneered supporting and promoting the communication development of pre-school children". He added that it would strengthen the charity's own commitment "to helping everyone in the UK understand and enjoy the benefits of improved interpersonal communication skills".

The resource packs, which are being jointly developed, are for early years professionals and parents. They will include I Can's successful ChatterChart wallchart, which helps parents log their child's communication milestones.

In the current development phase, BT will be able to access I Can's practitioner base as well as its expertise. I Can's Early Talk programme is a tested scheme that has credibility among local authorities and professionals, which means BT will benefit from being associated with the charity brand. BT will sponsor I Can's major policy conference on language, literacy and learning later this year, with the aim of targeting local authority commissioners and civil servants.

The partnership has its roots in 2000 when I Can approached BT for funding and support to help set up a website, which has since become the Talking Point site (www.talkingpoint.org.uk).

KEY POINTS

- I Can, the children's communication charity, struck up a partnership with BT's Education Programme last month

- BT, which already provides resources for primary and secondary schools, will now be able to tap into I Can's knowledge to develop resource training packs for under-fives

- BT would not say how much it was donating, but I Can is the biggest recipient of funding from BT's £3.2m education programme

- I Can will be able to access BT's production, marketing and general business operations and hopes to extend the reach of its messages.

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