Since retiring from IBM four years ago, I have supported more than 1,000 Kindergarten-to-College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) projects in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. As part of this work, I’ve often made use of IBM’s On Demand Community (ODC) resources to support the company’s corporate citizenship initiatives.
I’m writing to let people know that ODC offers many fulfilling opportunities to serve one’s community, regardless of where you are in your career.
On Demand Community celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year, but I remember the creation of the program and some of its earliest projects. One of my favorites was a collaboration between the corporate citizenship team and the IBM DiscoverE (formerly Engineers Week) group to develop the “Engineer A Robot” project using LEGO® Robotics. The activity became popular with IBM’s EX.I.T.E. and IGNITE summer camps and diversity programs, including Black Family Technology Week, La Familia Technology Week and Native American Family Technology Journey.
The Impact Hub is a vibrant innovation lab and incubation center in the heart of Zürich. Founded in 2011, it is part of a global network of more than 50 locales where social entrepreneurship is fostered through a growing innovation community. Impact Hubs make co-working spaces available, and host networking and coaching events. Our goal is to connect businesses, governments and NGOs to help create a more sustainable economy. But our core business involves offering social and environmental startups the environments they need to thrive.
Recently, 20 young social entrepreneurs from our membership took part in a day-long “Coaching As a Leadership Style” workshop offered by IBM in Switzerland and funded by an IBM Impact Grant. The workshop was a great opportunity for the Impact Hub members to focus on some of the challenges they face every day, such as creating atmospheres of learning and collaboration, and determining which leadership styles are most appropriate in small startups.
All across the nation there has been a surge of interest in career and technical education programs brought on by the pressing need to connect youth with meaningful career readiness opportunities. The recent TIME Magazine cover story on IBM’s P-TECH-model schools in Chicago and New York is the latest example of America’s growing interest in innovative partnerships that bridge the divide between the classroom and world of work. Many employers, like IBM, are stepping up their engagement with schools to help prepare students for the modern economy. The time is right for Congress to act in kind and to support the reauthorization and modernization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
The Perkins Act is widely recognized as an important resource in helping connect the education system to the needs of the business community. If employers throughout the U.S. are to maintain their economic competitiveness, it will be through programs like the Perkins Act that help build the skills employers need to grow. The Perkins Act dates to 1988 and provides over $1 billion in federal funding to states to support career and technical education programs in high schools, community colleges, and related institutions across the country. While the Perkins Act has made important contributions to supporting career readiness, closing the ever-widening skills gap requires a renewed emphasis on career preparation programs and a rethinking of priorities moving forward.
Today, thanks to advances in modern medicine, 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer are cured. But the prognosis is not nearly as good for children with neuroblastoma, the most common form of cancer diagnosed in infants. Neuroblastoma is a tumor of peripheral nerve tissues that often starts in the adrenal glands and sympathetic ganglia of the neck, chest, or abdomen, and affects approximately one in 8,000 children in the United States and Japan. More than half of neuroblastoma cases are classified as high risk, and only 30 percent of these children are cured – a rate that has not improved for two decades. New treatments are urgently needed for this dangerous disease.
Our research team at the Chiba Cancer Center in Japan has been working to develop a new treatment for neuroblastoma. With the help of volunteers participating in IBM’s World Community Grid, we have just discovered seven new drug candidates that could potentially be used in new medicines that fight childhood neuroblastoma. These drug candidates work by activating a self-destruct mechanism present in neuroblastoma cancer cells – killing them without affecting healthy cells.
Today’s TIME Magazine cover story on IBM’s P-TECH-model school in Chicago is an across-the-board validation of everything that we and our partners in education and government are working to achieve:
- Transforming America’s approach to education and employment through innovation
- Contributing time, technology and expertise (not just cash) to affect meaningful and sustainable change
- Placing the needs of our clients – young people anxious to learn and succeed – first
The story of Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy on Chicago’s South Side, and the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn, New York is the story of a groundswell movement to break the cycle of poverty, rescue a generation (and a nation) from an uncertain future, and blaze a pathway to success that others can follow.
IBM’s founder coined the phrase “world peace through world trade” more than 100 years ago. Taking that phrase to heart, the company opened offices in Brazil in 1917,
The Philippines in 1925, and China in 1936 as we established that being a good global citizen was good for the world – as well as for business. Today’s IBM is a globally integrated enterprise with clients and employees from every part of the world. Our diversity – and the diversity of the markets in which we operate – necessitates the adoption of a truly global perspective on our operations, on leadership development, and on delivering results for our clients.
We launched the IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) – inspired by the Peace Corps –
in 2008 to advance the cause of global citizen diplomacy. As we celebrate the CSC’s 5th Anniversary this year, we pause briefly to reflect on the expertise that more than 2,400 IBMers and employees from our clients and partners have contributed to addressing some of the world’s greatest societal challenges. By deploying our top talent to collaborate with governments, NGOs and communities in emerging markets, we not only have helped bring about meaningful and sustainable changes, but also have developed the capabilities of our emerging leaders and built lasting relationships with our clients around the world.
In an era of diminished public resources, reliance on nonprofit social services providers is
at an all-time high. Today’s nonprofits must be efficient, professionally managed and technologically savvy – both to serve clients effectively and to provide necessary information to benefactors and government agencies. One operational component that’s critical to nonprofit social services continuity is disaster preparedness. That’s why the Vermont Digital Economy Project was delighted to take part in two Disaster Preparedness for Nonprofits Workshops made possible through the IBM Impact Grants program.
When Tropical Storm Irene tore through the state in 2011, all Vermonters suffered, and those depending on food banks and other services of the social safety net were among the hardest hit. But through the disaster preparedness workshops that IBM experts recently conducted, service providers from every segment of Vermont’s nonprofit spectrum were able to visualize their missions more clearly and develop effective strategies and tactics to help ensure continuity of service during future times of crisis.
At IBM, the practice of corporate citizenship is fully integrated into our overall business strategy. This integration enables IBM – and IBMers – to affect meaningful and sustainable change for our citizenship clients. In this second installment of our series on the practice of corporate citizenship, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager Pamela Haas details the importance of putting the client first in non-profit engagements.
IBM’s first corporate value – “Dedication to every client’s success” – applies equally to our non-profit and for-profit customers. Given our integration of corporate citizenship initiatives with overall business strategy, this makes perfect sense. Treating non-profit and for-profit clients with equal care and concern also makes sense in a world where corporate executives and decision makers serve on the boards of non-profit organizations. Whether for-profit or non-profit, clients can count on IBM to put their concerns first.
Our for-profit clients often connect with us when they’re being honored for their contributions to non-profit causes. While the special events to recognize these contributions can be important networking opportunities, they also get us thinking about how we might serve our non-profit clients better. For example, what if a nonprofit’s strategic mission complements an IBM program or initiative? In those instances, we have discovered that our contributions of time, technology and expertise can be far more effective than so-called “checkbook philanthropy” when it comes to bringing about real and sustainable change. This is particularly true in an age when nonprofits are called upon to accomplish more with
fewer resources, and to do so with operational efficiencies traditionally associated with
During my time back home in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was given the opportunity to tour IBM’s Research Triangle Park facility. During my visit, I sat down with a group of women at IBM for an insightful and eye-opening discussion our experiences in the workforce. The women I met are contributing to our country’s economic success and competitive edge through their education and raw talent, but they are only a small portion of the many brilliant women nationwide who are creating, innovating, and implementing changes in the technology sector. The women I met with are few and far from the number of women our nation needs in the increasingly important realm of technology.
While the proportion of women in the workplace has gone up – and the educational gap between women and men has decreased – a stark gender gap remains to be closed. This is particularly true in the technology sector. The technology industry continues to expand at a rapid pace, and has increased the demand for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and IT (Information Technology) jobs. Yet the entry of women into the technology field is happening at a much slower pace than that of their male counterparts.
Those unused to the devastating power of natural disasters may have difficulty visualizing what it means to lose everything in one fell swoop. We’ve seen the images on television, and been numbed by the sheer scale of the statistics – especially when there’s massive loss of life – but until you’ve been there, you can’t really know what it’s like.
Last October, in one of the world’s largest emergency actions, more than 360,000 people were evacuated from the path of Cyclone Phailin as it tore through Odisha State, which faces the Bay of Bengal on India’s eastern coast. Three months after the storm, life for many residents is beginning to stabilize. But in the small fishing villages around Chilka Lake, “normal” remains painfully out of reach.