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Confessions of a Philanthropist: Harvey Najim’s Passion for Giving Back

Written by on May 12, 2018

San Antonio, Texas — Bexar County’s “Servant Leader” Philanthropist and Businessman Harvey Najim was live on Thursday, May 10th with Host Tommy Calvert and Jim Eskin with Alamo Colleges to discuss social trends with nonprofit giving and corporations to moving the needle in our community with a workforce qualified to handle medical field and tech jobs.

Najim is the Founder of nationally recognized tech provider Sirius Computer Solutions.  After a successful 35 year run building his company into a billion dollar corporation, his passion and focus is on the philanthropic side with children’s welfare at the forefront.

“I don’t think there’s anything better that you can do in life than help others,” says Najim who has pumped $125 million into the Najim Family Foundation.  When questioned how he and his board decide which causes to say yes and no to he explained that he frequently reminds his board of the checklist including food, shelter, and clothing for children and that while they are not into the museums, art, theatres, the zoo or nature, they are, however, about paying for low income kids to get on a bus to visit the zoo and art museums, to pay for their admissions and lunch so that they may have those outside experiences that the school districts are unable to provide.   

Najim’s Foundation has given $100 million in Bexar County to charitable organizations for children while acknowledging that with 26% of the population in Bexar County requiring social services, it is putting more pressure on foundations and corporations to help non-profits keep up with the demand.  

Enter the set of grave statistics covering education in Bexar County, Calvert asked Najim to share his vision for brightening the futures of students destined to add to the high dropout rates with 40% of Hispanic students dropping out in some districts and 50% of African American students dropping out in some districts resulting in 25% of the adult population reading at a fifth grade level.  

Najim shares the series of elevator rides that led to the development of the Pathways Scholarship program with Alamo Colleges where his Foundation underwrites students for two years with tuition, fees and books to garner an associate’s degree and then transfer, with matching funds, to UTSA, Texas A&M San Antonio or UTHSC and finish up with four-year degrees, enabling students to get their degrees for under $10k.    

In 2012 Najim moved Sirius from the Spectrum building into the Airport Center and decided to keep his Foundation office at Spectrum.  Approximately two years later, software developer and database management systems giant Oracle Corporation moved into the Spectrum Building.

After meeting many of the 200 Oracle employees with 50k to 60k salaries riding the elevator to the ninth and 10th floors they occupied with the jovile introduction “Hi, I’m Harvey Najim, where are you from?” “Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Miami…” were often their responses.

And then, finally, the rider he’d been waiting for, Najim admittedly accosted the Oracle badge laden, nattily dressed woman when she revealed that she was the Human Resources Manager.  “You’re not getting off this elevator til you answer one question!” proclaimed Najim. Answering with a defensive “What’s your question?” Najim asked “What percentage of the kids that you hired are from San Antonio?”  Her answer was about 10%. “Would you tell me why?” Najim pleaded when she explained that the emerging students from San Antonio weren’t meeting the educational levels to fill those jobs.

Listen to the full interview:  

First Half of Interview

Second Half of Interview

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