Goodyear on Thursday begins a week of volunteering in the Akron area that will involve more than 1,100 of its local employees.

The program, part of what the company calls the Goodyear BetterFuture social responsibility platform, is a major step up for the Akron tire maker.

The effort, which Goodyear says is its first weeklong volunteer program, is aimed at doing greater good in the community while also encouraging as many employees as possible to find ways to donate their time and expertise.

Over the course of seven days, volunteers will install smoke alarms in homes, go into schools, clean buildings and properties, hold a “bike safety rodeo” and host six professional development workshops for nonprofit organizations. The Akron area isn’t the sole focus – volunteer efforts will take place at other Goodyear global locations in China, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia and Slovenia.

Goodyear executives say they also hope to inspire other businesses and organizations to expand their community volunteerism as well.

The week is not in lieu of other Goodyear volunteer efforts.

“We have a core group of volunteers at Goodyear who are regularly active in the community,” said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications.

This new effort is to make it easy for people outside that core group to volunteer, he and Alison White, Goodyear director of community engagement, said.

Planning began about a year ago.

White said she and others looked at the “best practices” of other business volunteer programs and incorporated what they thought worked best for Goodyear.

The planning process involved discussions with Goodyear’s liaisons with local nonprofits, she said.

“The company has great relationships already in place,” White said. “We built off of that.”

Goodyear’s liaisons and the nonprofits identified community needs. Then organizers came up with more than 60 projects — the goal was to make it easy for employees to find opportunities.

“We gave our associates a menu,” Fitzhenry said.

Goodyear employees can volunteer, depending on the project, from two to eight hours, either on a weekday or weekend. They can work with co-workers or family members as well, Fitzhenry said.

Unique to the volunteer week are the professional development workshops for local nonprofits that will take place at Goodyear’s global headquarters, White said.

Nonprofits typically do not have large training budgets, White said. Goodyear looked at which of its employees and training programs it could “repurpose” to the benefit of the community organizations, she said.

Workshop topics include “Conflict and Conversations,” “Inclusive Leadership: Behaviors that Foster an Inclusive Workplace” and “Project Management Fundamentals.”

“It’s at no cost to the nonprofit,” White said.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, she said, with almost all of the 225 workshop slots filled as of last week.

After the week concludes, Goodyear will evaluate the effort with a look to the future.

Fitzhenry said the volunteer week is not intended as a “one-and-done.”

“We would like to see this continue next year,” he said.

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ  on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ