Last fall, the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released dismal figures: Hispanic youths had the highest use of illegal drugs among any ethnic group.

That's when Cox Communications launched a Spanish-language campaign to fight the problem.

The effort, including Spanish-language brochures for parents and major outreach programs in the Hispanic community, will be backed by $5 million worth of free PSAs.

The program system illustrates how Cox has become one of the most aggressive promoters of public-service programs, providing $105 million in cash and in-kind contributions to local and national organizations and causes in 2003. In addition, it highlights how Cox uses public-service campaigns to build its brand and businesses.

In the past year, Cox has launched an aggressive effort to market its services to the Hispanic community, hiring Cesar Cruz as director of multicultural marketing earlier this year, rolling out new Hispanic tiers and expanding its involvement in the Hispanic community. Says Community Relations Director Mallard Holliday, "It was a way to tie our business strategies into a program that is valuable to the Hispanic community."

The program also fits in with Cox's overall community-service strategy, which focuses on youth and education. "Time and time again, national surveys have shown that the public gives companies the most public-service credit for their involvement with youth and education," Holliday says.

One recent example of that push was a June 2003 announcement that Cox would provide free Internet access to Boys and Girls Clubs. Holliday says the company promised to reach 10% of the clubs in the first year but has already wired 35%. "The local systems have really gotten behind the idea," he says.

In recent years, local Cox systems formalized some of their charitable activities by setting up foundations: Cox Charities New England and the Cox Kids Foundation in San Diego.

Employee involvement in community service also plays a key role in the Cox Kids Foundation, notes Mary Ball, vice president of government and community relations at Cox Communications San Diego. About 900 of the 2,000 people employed in the division donate a portion of their check each month, and the company matches the sum.

About $1.2 million has been collected since the foundation was established in 1999, funding programs that range from scholarships to hearing tests for kids and grants for innovative educational projects.