Collaborative Spirit


A celebration of a 100-year anniversary resulted in backpacks stuffed with school supplies for more than 150 Academy of Choice (AOC) students in Spring Branch ISD.

Sumitomo Corporation Group, a diverse global conglomerate trading company, traces its origins back to 17th century Japan, but the corporation was officially established in Japan in 1919.

Now operating in 66 countries, the multinational company polled its 60,000 employees to determine which of its sustainable development goals they would like to support to mark this auspicious milestone. The results: quality education.

Each office chose an educational organization with whom to partner and share resources. The Houston office of Sumitomo, located in Spring Branch, contacted the Partnership and Volunteers department of Spring Branch ISD, and the rest is … history!

About the same time, Toni Guajardo, the Communities in Schools student support manager at AOC, made it known to the SBISD partnerships office that many students at the school needed school supplies. She provided a list of some of the common requests, hoping that some donations could fill in the gaps that her students had. 

Houston’s Sumitomo group elected to purchase one of everything on the list for every student at the school, which serves 153 middle and high school students.


An assembly line of volunteers at the company’s Houston office invested their time in the project by inserting the school supplies, including inspirational notes, into each backpack.

Sumitomo representatives Sharon Chasteen, Otto Quan and Gail Garza were on hand to deliver the generous results to AOC.

“When I put out the request, I didn’t expect this abundance,” said Guajardo on the day boxes and boxes of filled backpacks were delivered to the school by the three Sumitomo representatives.

Four AOC students David, Vanessa, PJ and Emmanuel helped unload the supplies and express appreciation to the partners. 

“We all get one of these?! That is so awesome,” said a student.

This new partnership between SBISD and Sumitomo is sure to continue as there are many other opportunities to support the organizations’ mutual goal of providing quality education for Every Child.

“We are very glad our company sponsored this activity and it was our pleasure to partner with all of you,” said Quan.  “We appreciate the opportunity and look forward to continuing this partnership with Spring Branch ISD."

SBISD welcomes community involvement in our schools, whether it is by donating needed items or investing in students by providing volunteers. More than 200 SBISD partners are actively connected to successful outcomes in classrooms and with students.  

The Collaborative Spirit in SBISD is growing daily thanks to the generosity of organizations like Sumitomo Group. Happy anniversary.