In January 2001, Whirlpool-then Chairman and CEO David R. Whitwam joined four other community leaders from the Benton Harbor, Michigan, area in founding the Council for World-Class Communities (CWCC).
The CWCC is a nonprofit group of Southwest Michigan residents working to remove barriers to diversity with inclusion as well as barriers to economic prosperity in the region. Its vision is to create a set of interdependent, world-class communities where diversity with inclusion is the foundation and no one is left behind.
More than 500 people have been actively involved in the Council. Of that number, many Whirlpool Corporation employees are volunteers, and Whitwam is a past chairman and a current member of the group’s board of directors.
The number of CWCC partners in the communities continues to grow as the group explores and implements projects to improve the quality of life for all. Its two main programs—Bridges to Digital Excellence and Community-Wide Diversity Training—have impacted thousands in the area.
The Bridges to Digital Excellence computer program provides free computer training as well as donated computer hardware and software to area families without access to home technology. Nearly 1,500 families with K-12 students have benefited from the program.
Community-wide diversity training workshops have been conducted for businesses, organizations and community groups in the region and have touched more than 5,000 participants.