Suicide is a significant cause of death in many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and Belgium is among the most affected European nations. A key strategy in the prevention of suicide in the Flanders Region is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, coordinated and operated by the Flemish Suicide Prevention Center. Here, skilled and trained volunteer counselors offer 24/7 support to individuals in a suicidal crisis, along with their relatives or friends. We offer this support via telephone, chat or e-mail, and all consultations are anonymous.
Last year, we doubled the size of our volunteer staff – from 65 to 130. Our counselors work mostly from home in virtual teams, so it is essential that they have access to smart tools that enable efficient interaction, provide easy access to information and allow effective planning. Through an Impact Grant, IBM helped us develop and deploy a powerful new intranet to enable our team to do its life-saving work.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global killer. More than 1.5 million people, including 140,000 children, died from the disease in 2014 – a year in which 9.6 million new cases (more than 1 million of them children) were diagnosed. The World Health Organization has declared TB to be the world’s deadliest infectious disease, along with HIV. To help combat it, my team and I are working with IBM’s World Community Grid on a new project called Help Stop TB. Through this project, we will study the molecular defences that make this bacterium resistant to patients’ immune systems and many current treatments.
TB is caused by infection from a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb). Typical symptoms of an active TB infection include persistent cough, fever, loss of weight, and night sweats. If the infection is left untreated, the bacteria are likely to cause increased damage to the lungs and spread throughout the body, which may ultimately lead to death.
by Rashid Ferrod Davis and Stanley S. Litow
However successful, innovative models in education can become subject to critiques – especially if the model has received national and international acclaim. IBM P-TECH
was launched with ambitious goals in 2011. At stake was the future of an underserved generation of young people, the yawning gap between the needs of industry and our schools’ ability to meet those needs, and America’s viability in an increasingly competitive global economy. P-TECH offered a common-sense, affordable solution to these challenges. And while the model is still evolving and growing, it’s already delivering on that promise.
We designed P-TECH as a grade 9 to 14 program to address America’s disappointingly low college completion rates – rates that are even lower for low-income students of color. The indisputable fact is that the college completion rate for low-income 24-year olds increased from only 6 percent to only 9 percent between 1970 and 2013. When 91 percent of low-income 24-year olds fails to complete college, our education system – and our nation – has a problem of significant proportion.
(Turkish version below)
Education is the best legacy that a nation can give to its citizens. A robust education system in a country reflects and strengthens the social, cultural and moral values of the people. In addition, education is a vital investment for human and economic development. That’s why the Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey (TEGV) initiated the After School Educational Support Program for elementary school children.
TEGV was founded in 1995 by 55 trustees from Turkey’s industrial, professional and academic sectors who sought to contribute their time and talent to drive improvement in the country’s quality of education. Now a leading non-governmental organisation in the education sector, TEGV has connected 65,000 volunteers with more than two million children across 72 locations in Turkey.
Chronically ill and rehabilitating children face quite a number of psychosocial challenges. Disruption of school and social activities during treatment and recovery are particularly troublesome, leading to isolation and a downfall in school performance which could ultimately result in a lack of motivation to get better.
Plugging the educational gap in Belgium, Bednet enables long-term or chronically ill children and young adults between from ages six to 18 to connect with their classrooms via real-time video and audio streaming. This allows the pupils to follow lessons during their physical absence from school, and to stay connected with their teachers and classmates. The set-up of the entire distance-learning system – including the permanent IT helpdesk and a support person to ensure swift communication, enablement and troubleshooting – is free of charge for participating schools and children.
In India – where the population of persons with disabilities is estimated to be greater than the overall population of the UK – people with disabilities (PwD) often are considered liabilities. Despite the 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act, which was revised in 2015 to guarantee jobs to persons with disabilities, more than two-thirds of that population in my state of Karnataka is unemployed. According to the Association for People with Disability, 800,000 of Karnataka’s 1.2 million people with disabilities do not have jobs.
Growing up with a disability, I was keenly aware of the extent to which lack of accessibility and socioeconomic limitations prevented others with disabilities from obtaining educations and jobs. Although I received extensive support from my family and friends, the obstacles I faced inspired me to start a nonprofit focused on making use of technology initiatives to empower persons with disabilities. The organization I founded in Bangalore – the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled – supports PwD initiatives via income generation programs that are replicable, scalable and sustainable.
At Teach for Belgium, we believe that a child’s success in life should not be limited by the socioeconomic background of his or her family. That’s why we recruit and train inspirational leaders from all academic disciplines to serve for two years as teachers in low-income communities. Supported by the Teach for All international network, 55 of our teachers in Belgium currently are active in more than 30 secondary schools in the French-speaking community. Our goal is to build a national movement through which to provide educational opportunities to kids across Belgium, whether they speak French or Flemish.
As a growing organization, we are keenly aware that the efficiency and effectiveness of our internal operations determines the quality of the services we can provide. That’s why we were delighted to receive an IBM Strategic Assessment Impact Grant to help us expand and refine our operational capabilities. Supported by the Impact Grant, two IBM consultants conducted a pro bono analysis of the underlying contributors to educational inequity in Flanders, and identified the most vulnerable constituencies. Employing analytics and market research techniques, the IBM consultants also helped us develop meaningful insights into the types of young professionals who would potentially be interested in careers in teaching. This work has enhanced our ability to identify and recruit the best professionals for our programs, and to develop a stronger brand presence among others interested in this type
In addition to supporting our recruiting efforts, the final report prepared by the IBM team has given us a better understanding of the scope of educational inequity in the Flemish-speaking community where we plan to expand our efforts. In turn, this understanding will help us develop our goals and plan our investments more effectively to achieve high impact in the communities we serve.
We are in the process of integrating many of the findings of the IBM report into our
protocols to develop and refine our strategies for service to low-income children throughout the country.
Pierre Pirard is CEO of Teach for Belgium.
In 2015, contributions through the IBM’s U.S. Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign (ECCC) surpassed the $1 billion mark. Though primarily a fundraising campaign, ECCC also encourages volunteerism through the IBM On Demand Community. Active and retired IBMers contribute money and expertise to a growing list of nonprofit beneficiaries in just one example of IBM’s Culture of Service. Below, the CEO of the American Heart Association shares her thoughts on how the longstanding support of IBMers has helped her organization fight back against heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world.
Imagine Americans getting more physically active, eating healthier and not smoking. Imagine your doctor equipped with better ways to care for your health, and hospitals better prepared to save lives. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association work toward those goals every day as part of our effort to build a culture of health where the healthy choice is the easy choice. And none of it would be possible without your support.
We do this because we are focused on an ambitious health goal we’ve set for the entire nation. We call it our 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. Along with our volunteers, we work with individuals, schools, lawmakers, healthcare providers and others to ensure everyone has access to healthier lifestyle choices and proper health care. Our 2020 goal exists to save and improve lives. We also use this target to measure the success of our work. Accountability is critical to the American Heart Association, and it’s a key reason we have been one of the world’s most respected health organizations for more than 90 years.
On November 23rd, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels and IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Vice President Stanley Litow announced Maryland’s commitment to open as many as four IBM P-TECH grade 9 – 14 schools in the City of Baltimore and across the state. These new schools will join the network of innovative IBM P-TECH model schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and Australia in connecting high school to college and 21st
Below, the Founding Principal of the inaugural IBM P-TECH school in Brooklyn, New York reflects on his school’s integrated approach to preparing graduates for college, career
IBM P-TECH model schools are engaging diverse groups of young adults across five U.S. states and Australia in rigorous and relevant academic programs that are breaking down barriers to college and middle-class careers. All six students who graduated from Brooklyn P-TECH and education partner the New York City College of Technology with the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree received job offers from IBM. Half joined the company in positions paying more than $50,000 per year. The rest opted to continue their educations at four-year colleges and universities – on full scholarships. But is P-TECH all work and
Educators and parents know that’s a bit of a trick question, as the arts and athletics offer important approaches to learning en route to developing well-rounded individuals who typically perform better in academics and the workplace. In addition, sports – along with strong academic preparation – can be a ticket out of poverty for many who otherwise would be unable to afford a college education. That’s why it’s so exciting that P-TECH’s focus on personal success is producing graduates who excel academically, in the workplace and on the field.
On the heels of the U.N.’s adoption in late September of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, an Asia Pacific volunteering alliance recently convened a forum for hundreds of youth and development partners from northeast Asia at the Korea Council on Foreign Relations in Seoul.
In his keynote address highlighting the role of volunteers in global development, Young-Mok Kim, president of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), stressed the key role of Peace Corps volunteers and the Saemaul Undong village self-help model in Korea’s 50-year rise from a low-income to a high-income nation.