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Each year, IBM bestows the Volunteer Excellence Award – the company’s highest form of volunteer recognition (our CEO level recognition) – on those individuals or teams who best personify IBM’s Culture of Service. This award is highly competitive. Winners are selected from more than 265,000 IBM volunteers in 120 countries. The award underscores our commitment to the communities in which we live and work, and recognizes those whose dedication, innovation and personal commitment to service plays an essential role in enabling the transformation of our nonprofit and education clients. We use the word “clients” as a key term here because IBM’s commitment to service is integrated with our overall business strategy. From governments and NGOs to communities in developing markets to children and young people just beginning to build their lives, all of our clients receive the best of our skills, expertise and technology.

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Check out the brief synopses of our award winners’ stories below, and be on the lookout for more details in the coming months.

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When most people think of law enforcement, they likely picture the brave women and men who are sworn to protect and serve their communities. But as with any large and complex organization – with unknown variables, rapidly-changing circumstances and literally hundreds of moving parts – a police department requires enlightened management to function effectively.

Raleigh Police Department managers attend an IBM Project Management seminar

Raleigh Police Department managers attend an IBM Project Management seminar

The Raleigh Police Department employs more than 130 personnel, both sworn officers
and non-sworn “civilians”, in operational support areas. These personnel manage key behind-the-scenes operations, such as training, fleet maintenance, property and evidence management, crime analysis, special-events planning, IT support, records management, youth and family services, community policing, departmental accreditation, and fiscal administration. Support in those areas allows our officers in the field to more efficiently serve the community. The fact that many of these support roles involve the management of projects – either occasionally or on a regular basis – is one of the reasons I welcomed the opportunity for many of our RPD staff members to participate in an IBM Project Management seminar.

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As Superintendent of North Carolina’s Wake County Public School System, I lead a district where thousands of employees are committed to ensuring every student receives a quality education.  But we do not work alone. It is an endeavor that also includes parents, students and community partners.

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It was in that spirit that our community began developing a new strategic plan in spring 2014 when several hundred people gathered on a Friday night to talk about the future of public education in our county. That discussion was followed by an online survey that attracted 11,000 participants, a town hall meeting of more than 750 people and months
of debate among a working group of parents, teachers, students, community leaders
and educators.

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How does a high school student proficient in coding and entranced by game playing plot
a career in this booming, fast moving industry? Twenty aspiring Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) students with advanced coding skills and all of
the passion for gaming recently joined industry maven Monty Sharma for guidance on
this topic.

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Ask any high school student what they’re passionate about, and many will tell you gaming. Then ask them about their top career choices and you’re bound to get the same response. Game Development is among the most popular desired career paths for young adults, and market trends suggest that a career in this $100 billion industry can hold lots of promise.

Twenty P-TECH coders work in teams through a “core mechanic” game design exercise

Twenty P-TECH coders work in teams through a “core mechanic” game design exercise

The gaming industry’s annual revenues are twice those of the U.S. movie and music industries combined. And thanks to the global boom in mobile, games now reach all ages and cultures in every corner of the Earth. The industry’s growth potential continues to be huge as applications developed for gaming are rapidly adapted and deployed across many other industries. Business, education and medicine are just three of the global industries using applications first developed for gaming. This means that game coders and developers will have lots of job security – if they can master the requisite skills.

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In an era of increasing demands and diminished resources, small nonprofits often
find themselves caught in the squeeze. With resources devoted to serving their beneficiaries, small NGOs can find themselves faced with two critical challenges – adjusting their strategic missions to the evolving dynamics of societal problems, and acquiring and maintaining the technological tools that would enable more effective
service to constituents.

Volunteer Houston staffers with new laptop computers underwritten by a cash grant from IBM. VH received both consulting services and direct financial support through its strategic partnership with IBM.

Volunteer Houston staffers with new laptop computers underwritten by a cash grant from IBM. VH received both consulting services and direct financial support through its strategic partnership with IBM.

In our 40th year of operation, we at Volunteer Houston found ourselves in a bind. A Points of Light affiliate that serves as the city’s sole referral service connecting volunteers to a broad spectrum of diverse nonprofit organizations, we nearly closed in 2012. But in 2013, our new leadership set out to transform Volunteer Houston with an updated operational strategy and new technology. Essential to our reinvention was an IBM Impact Grant to help us develop a strategic plan for growth.

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IBM has long taken environmental sustainability seriously, and we have been making aggressive moves for 25 years to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Today IBM is announcing new goals for the use of renewable energy and for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of greenhouse gas emissions, this marks the company’s third generation goal.

Read the rest of this story.

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The U.S. needs more experts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Unfortunately, our pipeline for these skills seems to be running dry at just the moment when we need more STEM professionals than ever. And it’s not just industry that benefits from STEM. Studies show that STEM professionals earn more than their counterparts in other fields, even when those counterparts have more years of education. All of which begs the question: how do we get kids interested in STEM, and keep them engaged long enough to prepare themselves for rewarding STEM careers?

Camp Fire students conduct the IBM TryScience "Crater" experiment

Camp Fire students conduct the IBM TryScience “Crater” experiment

At Camp Fire Central Texas, we are committed to delivering evidence-based, hands-on programming that builds healthy, resilient, responsible youth through active learning, outdoor experiences, service to the community and by engaging families. That’s why we were delighted to supercharge our afterschool programs by incorporating IBM TryScience – a dynamic program that stimulates young peoples’ interest in STEM through a variety of engaging activities.

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As a teacher at Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), I’ve seen first hand how engaging young people unleashes their potential and enables them to transform themselves. Most of our students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and enter P-TECH (an open admissions school) with a variety of academic and social issues. But with constructive engagement through our integrated program of classroom and workplace learning, our students are achieving amazing things!

The author (in front with red scarf) and the P-TECH delegation at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York

The author (in front with red scarf) and the P-TECH delegation at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York

In addition to rigorous course work and essential mentor/protégé relationships for each
P-TECH student, our program includes workplace and other instructional opportunities that give our students a heads-up view of the world outside of their neighborhoods and beyond the scope of traditional schooling. That’s why our students and I were so excited to visit IBM’s Thomas Watson Research Center as part of the company’s Local Education Outreach Program. It turns out that IBM leads the world in patents, and our students’ visit to one of IBM’s creative innovation nerve centers proved to be a mind-opening experience for them…and for me!

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The Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA) recently launched the first-ever National Lymphoedema Registry for Australia and New Zealand, with help from an IBM Impact Grant. In her remarks below, ALA President Helen Mackie details the significance of this new development in the quest to improve care for lymphoedema sufferers.

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Often described as cancer’s hidden aftermath, lymphoedema is the painful and debilitating swelling that can follow a variety of cancer surgeries, or which may be caused by a primary lymphatic system deficiency, vascular problems or non-cancer related surgery or trauma. Lymphoedema results in a vulnerability to infection in the swollen part, which may develop into septicaemia requiring hospitalisation. While incurable, the condition is treatable. A problem arises, however, when governments and health care provider organisations are unable to identify affected populations with any certainty.

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The Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA) intends to change that. In addition to advocating for better health services for people living with lymphoedema, we have developed the first lymphoedema registry in Australia and New Zealand – an essential step toward identifying those with the condition so they can receive the costly and labour-intensive treatment they require. Our development of The Lymphoedema Registry was enabled by an IBM Impact Grant. IBM SPSS Data Collection software is used to collect confidential self-reported patient information through an online survey, hosted on IBM Cloud SaaS. The data collected will be analysed in SPSS Statistics. IBM Services helped facilitate the implementation for the ALA.

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March is an exciting month for women in technology. Last week, the United Nations held a plenary session on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Economy in commemoration of International Women’s Day. And this week is Global Marathon – a free, online event for women in engineering and technology worldwide that coincides with International Women’s Day. Global Marathon runs from March 9 through March 11, with session replays available. I was honored to moderate the UN plenary session, and wanted to relate its powerful messages in the context of IBM Corporate Citizenship’s efforts to empower women and girls everyday.

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An overarching theme of the panel was that technology fuels women’s entrepreneurship. There are several layers to that message. Among the most important is that the application of technology is doing more for women than ever before – from coordinating volunteer outreach to connecting entrepreneurial networks to analyzing data related to women’s health issues. Equally important is our understanding that women’s lives improve with greater access to technology. This begins with education in math and science, continues through technological innovation by women, and reaches fruition through positive engagement in ways that affect sustainable change.

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