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A Call to CEOs: Ukrainian Students at US Schools Need Your Help

By Blair LaCorte

It’s heart-wrenching to watch the daily devastation of the shattered homes, lives and dreams of Ukrainians more than six thousand miles away. More than a month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, cities are ravaged, families are devastated, and diplomacy is stalled.

As CEOs, we are supposed to be problem solvers, “fixers”, leaders — but what can we do?

Providing monetary aid to humanitarian organizations supporting Ukrainian citizens is a safe and effective starting point for getting involved. Beyond flat donations and fundraising efforts, companies with the capacity to leverage their product are doing so. Elon Musk sent satellite kits to Ukraine to help with communication, while Airbnb is providing temporary housing to refugees.These companies understand that “aid” can be offered in both obvious and unexpected ways.

A less obvious demographic that needs support right now are the thousands of students in the U.S. — either in undergraduate, graduate or high school boarding school programs — who are directly affected by the war, as they are unable to go home to their families this summer. They are, in effect, students without a country.

To all of my fellow CEOs, I invite you to help these students by creating one additional paid internship this summer at your company.

AEye, for example, is partnering with our local university, U.C. Berkeley, to fill several internship positions. Our goal is to ensure that these students can safely continue their education here in the U.S., and have an enriching business experience this summer. We know the power immigrants have had on our country, making up 25% of startup founders. We see the desire with these students to make a difference, and this is a unique time and way to help.

This program is a reminder to all of us that humanity’s greatest strength is empathy. While we at AEye build risk plans for supply chain disruptions, as a technology company, we don’t often have an opportunity to help with human disruption. I am proud of my team for rising to the occasion.

Executing this program on your end is as simple as reaching out to your local university’s International Center to learn who you can support and how. If a Ukrainian student can bring value to your organization, consider creating or filling a paid intern role with that student.

Through a concerted effort, we can provide a stopgap of support to Ukrainian children and young adults, sadly one of the many fallouts from the invasion. This effort may be a small thing in the grand scheme, but it is everything to those we stand to assist.

The world moves fast around us, and you must actively engage with it. If you have the means, please join AEye in keeping students affected by the war safe.

Blair LaCorte is CEO at AEye, Inc., building intelligent, next-generation, adaptive LiDAR for vehicle autonomy, ADAS and robotic vision applications.