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Chattanooga-based Unum is the nation's largest provider of short- and long-term disability insurance. The company paid $5.6 billion in benefits to more than 525,000 individuals in 2014, according to Unum. / Staff file photo

Unum and its employees teamed up to contribute $3.5 million last year to non-profit organizations in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia, part of more than $12.7 million in total charitable support from the company in the United States, Britain and Ireland.

In addition, employees in Unum's Chattanooga office volunteered 20,000 hours to their favorite local causes, valued at $482,509.

"We have a longstanding tradition of helping others and fostering partnerships with organizations that are committed to making a difference in our communities," said Suzanne Payne, director of corporate social responsibility at Unum. "That commitment to social responsibility is one of Unum's core values, and it's rewarding to see our employees demonstrate that commitment by giving of their time, talents and financial resources."

The company primarily focuses its charitable efforts on supporting public education initiatives that provide more opportunity for students to learn. Other areas of support include health and wellness and arts and culture.

"With the help of Unum and its employees, Y-CAP was able to provide more than 125 troubled middle school kids in the Chattanooga area with direct services in 2015," said Andy Smith, executive director at Y-CAP.

Unum also continued its multi-year partnership with the Public Education Foundation through supporting programs such as the Principal Leadership Academy.

"Six years ago, Unum invested in the creation of Hamilton County's Principal Leadership Academy—a yearlong program that provides extensive training and support to educators who want to become our next generation of principals," said Bill Kennedy, vice president of Leading & Learning at PEF. "Unum not only helps underwrite the cost of the academy, but every year since the creation of PLA, senior Unum executives have served as mentors and a Unum team has shared with the aspiring principals thoughts on creating a positive culture in the workplace."

The company also strengthened its commitment to public education through charitable giving and employee engagement with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Urban League.

"These programs, and many more like them, make a lasting impact on our community," Payne said. "They enhance the educational and developmental opportunities for children and young adults, and they do a fantastic job preparing them for the future."

Outside of public education initiatives, the United Way was a big beneficiary of Unum's corporate giving in 2015. A sampling of other beneficiaries include Chattanooga non-profit organizations that partner with Unum, including Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation and Junior Achievement of Chattanooga.

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