Changing the World Through Education

By supporting programs that pave the way for the next generation, we’re shaping the global landscape.

There are currently 7.6 billion people in the world, and every day, that number grows. It takes hard work and tireless dedication to continue feeding, clothing, and providing resources to more and more people. But most importantly? It requires passion.

At John Deere, we choose to invest that passion into the next generation. Educating and encouraging the youth is always time well-spent because they represent what our future can be.

Explore some of the local and national education programs we’re proud to support.

The National FFA Organization

In 1928, it used to simply mean “Future Farmers of America.” But over time, the National FFA Organization has evolved to stand for so much more.

A phrase we use is ‘We Are FFA’… It’s a place where everyone can belong, be united, and be a part of something bigger than all of us.”

—Abrah Meyer, FFA Alumni

Dedicated to empowering the next generation of agricultural advocates, the National FFA Organization helps students develop their skills, tackle challenges, and succeed in their future career paths. But by bringing individuals together from all different backgrounds, they create a lasting community that’s sparking real change in the world.

That’s why we’ve stood by the National FFA Organization for 74 years. Hitting nearly 750 hours of volunteerism at the local and state levels and leveraging food education initiatives like #mission2050, our support is our single largest educational investment.

Because helping the youth change the world – feeding, clothing and sheltering the human race – is something we’re always proud to do.

National FFA Organization members are our future farmers. And future engineers. And future veterinarians. And future scientists. Because today’s dreamers become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. And this is our world.

“We are proud to support the National FFA Foundation, with its strong legacy of developing youth into tomorrow’s agriculture industry leaders; men and women who will be challenged to feed and clothe a growing global population,” said Amy Allen, Manager of Corporate Sponsorships at John Deere. 

The First Tee

The First Tee helps students hone their golf skills, but that’s only a fraction of what they instill in the youth.

The life skills instilled in me by The First Tee have not only caused me to constantly develop as a well rounded individual, but also inspired me to want to teach others about what it means to be respectful, responsible, confident and courteous.”

—Jailynn Thomas, The First Tee member

Developed 20 years ago to encourage more children to play golf, The First Tee’s value spans far beyond the green. As students work on their skills, form, and sportsmanship through in and after-school programs, they’re building character and learning important lessons about life.

Anchored by Nine Core Values, The First Tee has proven to boost participants’ community service involvement and confidence. Additionally, The First Tee services youth from all different communities, which helps students appreciate and embrace the beauty of diversity.

Since 2012, John Deere has proudly invested in The First Tee through hands-on educational events and scholarship donations. This year, our all-girls John Deere Drive Your Future Academy in Atlanta brought together 24 of The First Tee’s best & brightest for workshops, networking, and a ton of time on the course. Additionally, 2017 wrapped up the first year of a new scholarship program, created to reward the program’s most-deserving students.

And with an established commitment through 2021, we can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

“At John Deere, we are focused on making an impact that supports our corporate and philanthropic goals for years ahead.  The First Tee’s programs, including two John Deere-sponsored national events, provide youth opportunities that are catalysts for success later in life.” – John Watson, The First Tee Team Lead


At the forefront of technological innovation is STEM,  with FIRST leading the pack by supporting dedicated students.

I thought I might learn to do some programming. But I’ve learned so much more than I expected—like public speaking and video editing and computer-aided design... now I know what I’m capable of!”

—Nick Heinz, Member of the FIRST Robotics Competition team

On the brink of the technological revolution, Dean Kamen founded For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) in 1989 to empower young people to become more involved in science and technology. By fostering that curiosity and love at an early age, FIRST isn’t just building future executives leaders in this space.They’re creating a culture that’s shaping global innovation.

Supporting children grades K-12, FIRST is evolving the entire education system by giving boys and girls the opportunity to learn, experiment, and build their own original robots. We wanted to get in on the action, so in 2011, we got involved around the world.

Just last year, we supported FIRST in five different countries – U.S., India, Mexico, Brazil, and Canada – and next year, we’ll also be lending our services to Russia. As one of the largest FIRST team sponsors in the world, our support of FIRST is the John Deere Foundation’s single largest educational investment.

This not only expands our global footprint, but our reach and ability to change the status quo.

“FIRST allows John Deere to magnify our financial support of more than 500 teams in John Deere home communities across the globe with something even more valuable – our human capital. Through FIRST, John Deere volunteers empower youth to unleash their own technical and social potential using robotics as springboard. In this way, FIRST and John Deere not only enable the next generation of technological innovators, but we also facilitate a group of young women and men who will be able solve some of the world’s biggest challenges by working together. ” – Pat Barnes, John Deere Global Education Program Director

Classic Upward Bound

It can be hard to know where to start prepping for college. Enter Classic Upward Bound.

I truly believe that (if) we recruit you and we enroll you, then we should do everything we can to help you graduate.”

—Wilfred “Mickye” Johnson

For many high school students from low-income backgrounds, college can feel out of reach. Faced with daily struggles to “just get by”, many never consider the pursuit of a post-secondary education as anything more than a dream. But by empowering youth with the academic skills and motivation needed to continue their education, Classic Upward Bound (CUB) is changing lives and helping to mold the leaders of tomorrow.

After applying, select students are chosen to become Classic Upward Bound scholars who will participate in both academic year and summer programs. Through academic advisement, tutoring, and cultural education, CUB provides scholars with a wealth of knowledge that will prepare them for the future.

John Deere has had a longstanding relationship with CUB. Each summer since 2011, employees from our Waterloo operations have taught a course as part of the CUB program at the University of Norther Iowa. This year, Waterloo expanded from the summer-only course to a mentoring program that lasts the entire academic year, with over 20 employees serving as mentors. Also in 2017, we expanded our partnership with CUB to the Des Moines area with the launch of a summer course that was supported by over 30 employees.

It’s a privilege to teach and connect with students who are passionate about their futures, particularly those from backgrounds where they are often the first in their family to attend college. And the proof is in the results: nationally, over 70% of CUB students finish high school and pursue a college degree.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a positive part of their life and learn more about their circumstances and the challenges they face.” – Ashlee Tott, Project Manager NGT Transition Planning


Committed to building resiliency in the Midwest’s youth, iJAG is helping students transition from school to career.

If we ignite their passions, they pay it forward.”

—Laurie Phelen, iJAG President and CEO

For students who are unmotivated and disengaged, the chance they’ll drop out and abandon their education is far greater. Enter iJAG, which is helping provide children with the skills and opportunities to thrive – in both their classes & lives.

Founded in 1999, iJAG has become a leader within the national JAG network, serving 2,200 students a year in 45 programs across Iowa and Illinois. Through a “Future Ready strategy” with classroom and work-based learning, iJAG has helped increase graduation rate, continued education rate, and  full-time employment rate among participants.

Because of our unbridled passion for education and hands-on learning, John Deere became involved with iJAG in 2005. And for the past 12 years, the John Deere Foundation has invested more than $2 million to expand and support iJAG in John Deere home communities in Iowa and Illinois. To this, we have added John Deere employees, who have served as volunteer mentors for more than 20 classes, serving 1,500 students a year. Taken together, this financial and human support makes John Deere iJAG’s largest private donor.

By encouraging students and pushing them to reach their fullest potential, participants are developing character that they will continue to build far beyond the program. And with a 90% positive outcome rate, iJAG’s impact is undeniable.

“Encouraging kids to believe in themselves and showing them anything is possible is why I am an iJAG mentor. Your surroundings don’t define who you are, YOU define who you are!” – Kelli Lemke, iJAG Team Lead 

As we work toward a stronger, more sustainable world, we will continue fostering and educating the next generation.

Because the youth are our children. They are our children’s children.

And they have the power to change our world for the better.



Changing the World Through Education


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