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According to the World Health Organization, over a million people die every year from diseases caused by unclean water. With population growth and climate change, the problem is expected to get worse. Our team has discovered a phenomenon which could form an important step towards making clean water available to those who need it most. Existing water purification technologies are often expensive, and the people who need
them most are least able to afford them. The Computing for Clean Water project that
ran on World Community Grid can help change that status quo. The project’s exciting findings were just published in Nature Nanotechnology, the world’s most prestigious nanotechnology journal.

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Fundamentally, our discovery is about how we can potentially use carbon nanotubes to make water filters that are more efficient and less expensive. Carbon nanotubes are tiny, hollow structures made of a material related to graphite in pencils with diameters of just a few nanometers — one ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair. The size of the tubes allows water molecules to pass through, but blocks larger pathogens and contaminants, purifying the water.

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Last week, I had the distinct privilege to visit Newburgh, a city situated on the Hudson River and just a short train ride north of The Big Apple. It was a chance to witness
firsthand what everyone has been clamoring about: just what is happening inside a
P-TECH classroom?

Lt. Gov. Hochul is joined (from left to right) by Excelsior Academy Principal Kevin Rothman, Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla, and IBM Corporate Citizenship Vice President Stanley S. Litow in an address to Excelsior students

Lt. Gov. Hochul is joined (from left to right) by Excelsior Academy Principal Kevin Rothman, Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla, and IBM Corporate Citizenship Vice President Stanley S. Litow in an address to Excelsior students

Otherwise known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School, P-TECH has earned much praise for innovation in education from just about everyone, including President Obama. For me, the question was whether the success of the Brooklyn model could take flight in less populated areas. Could this model work in other communities across the state, particularly in troubled regions? I was determined to find out.

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Twenty-three years ago this May, I graduated from Morehouse College as part of the largest class in the college’s history through 1992. Features in national media outlets told the stories of several young leaders from the Class of 1992, including why they had chosen Morehouse over such schools as Cornell and Stanford, the commitment to service that Morehouse had instilled in them, and their plans for making the most of themselves and doing their best for their communities. On Commencement Day this year, Morehouse’s President acknowledged my work with P-TECH, and what we and our partners are doing to help level the playing field for a new generation of young leaders.

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Today, our school celebrates its first graduating class – six extraordinary young people who, through talent and tenacity, are finishing the six-year P-TECH program in just four years, and beating the odds. After accepting the P-TECH challenge of rigorous academics, extended school days, summer sessions, workplace learning, mentoring and internships, each of these graduates has earned either a high-paying job with IBM, or acceptance to a four-year college or university. Four of the six are the first in their families to graduate college. Each of them personifies what it means to redefine oneself based on one’s
highest expectations.

P-TECH is redefining possibilities for 17 and 18-year olds so that by their mid-20s their lives have different trajectories than those of their peers from similar socio-economic backgrounds and previous generations. The success of these six students shows that achievement gaps can be closed when young people have access to equitable opportunities and resources. We look forward to more of the types of public-private partnerships that are reinventing high schools as engines for success.

Continue reading to meet the P-TECH Class of 2015.

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At the height of last year’s Ebola outbreak, the citizen engagement team at IBM Connections in Sierra Leone put their talents in technology to work, creating a way for citizens to report Ebola-related issues and concerns via text or voice calls.

The people behind the project – which provided real-time insight to the government and helped health care companies more effectively deliver trial vaccines – were not only highly skilled IBM employees. They were volunteers.

From left to right: Tracy Hoover, CEO, Points of Light; Diane Melley, Vice President, Global Citizenship Initiatives, IBM Corporation; and Josh Dickson Director, Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, US Department of Commerce at the White House "Pro Bono Service: Harnessing Time and Talent for Social Good" event.

From left to right: Tracy Hoover, CEO, Points of Light; Diane Melley, Vice President, Global Citizenship Initiatives, IBM Corporation; and Josh Dickson Director, Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, US Department of Commerce at the White House “Pro Bono Service: Harnessing Time and Talent for Social Good” event.

Across the country and the world, companies like IBM are putting their unique business muscle to work for the greater good. These pro bono volunteers – top-notch professionals in technology, public health, systems engineering, logistics, manufacturing and more –
are using their industry-leading skills and relevant issue expertise to help nonprofits
change lives.

Yesterday at the White House, I participated in an event – convened by the White House, Points of Light and the U.S. Department of Commerce – that brought together corporate and nonprofit leaders for a change-making expo. We showcased some of the newest tools and innovations in pro bono service.

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Dublin City Council has had a long and productive relationship with IBM, including working on innovative projects with the IBM Research Team in Dublin, and we welcomed the opportunity to enter the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. We were delighted to be selected for the 2014 award. Our chosen topic was the potential for solar power to reduce the energy cost and carbon footprint of our operations. I was pleased to learn that the IBM Team would also include two HSBC staff members, adding a financial skill set that would complement the technical and marketing skills of the IBM Team members.

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The energy usage of the City Council is significant and we are subject to national public sector targets to reduce energy usage/carbon footprint. In this context we wanted a greater understanding of the potential to deploy solar/photovoltaic panels on our buildings. In addition, we have a role as an energy exemplar with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. We hope other building owners in the city will learn from and replicate our efforts.

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We were both excited and anxious to greet IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC) team. The hectic work schedule lasted three weeks and came to an end on April 23. The SCC grant program is designed to make the planet smarter, by providing cities and regions with recommendations to address their challenges based on analyses and diagnoses made by IBM experts. Since 2011, 114 cities have received the IBM SCC grant. Pyeongchang County applied for the grant with the mission of “Developing strategies for Pyeongchang’s future in preparation for the arrival of the High Speed Railway, with a vision of becoming a city of relaxation, tourism, leisure and sports.” We became the third recipient for the SCC grant, following Cheongju and Jeju.

[Note: The video below is in Korean.]

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IBM chose Pyeongchang County for an SCC grant based on our passion and commitment for making Pyeongchang a smarter city. Six IBM experts, each with different areas of expertise, worked in Pyeongchang for three weeks. These experts diagnosed the problems of Pyeongchang and gave us 11 recommendations to address our challenges. Even though they were only in Pyeongchang for three weeks, they reviewed several policies and existing reports, and gathered the opinions of many people throughout the region. Their final presentation demonstrated a thorough review of our challenges and delivered expert recommendations, living up to IBM’s reputation as a global company.

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When most of us talk about “tools for transformation” these days, we’re usually referring to software as a service or specific types of business or operational strategies. At the Atlanta Community ToolBank, we certainly use digital and conceptual “tools” to help us serve our clients. But our client touch point is physical tools. We are America’s largest tool-lending organization. We maintain an inventory of physical tools that we lend to other nonprofits to enable community-based service projects.

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We began our partnership with IBM during their Centennial Celebration of Service in 2011. Since that time, IBM experts have helped us develop strategies for efficiency, growth and collaboration with other nonprofits so that we can continue to provide our essential service. IBM and the Atlanta ToolBank eventually entered into a partnership that involves an annual consulting grant to help us refine operations and expand our impact across Atlanta. This critical strategic “tool” has been made possible by an IBM Impact Grant.

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As a professional development educator, one of my responsibilities is to train in-home child care providers. These valued service providers often struggle with the paperwork, record keeping and tax information requirements related to their businesses. Errors and omissions can lead to regulation violations, and eventually can jeopardize a care giver’s ability to remain in business. For these and other reasons, the IBM SME Toolkit is a welcome and valued resource for child care educators and practitioners. The SME Toolkit helps me educate in-home child care providers – some of whom struggle with the business aspect of providing child care – to manage and grow their businesses and avoid violations.

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The IBM SME Toolkit is a free, online business-building guide for small and medium-sized businesses. Having access to this type of guidance is essential to child care providers who lack the training or financial resources for professional services in business development, marketing or finance. My colleagues and clients have found the Toolkit to be an exciting resource for teaching and learning effective business organization and marketing practices.

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Cyber attacks, and cyber-security awareness, have moved to the forefront of discussion in the past decade. There is no question that American infrastructure is vulnerable to both external and internal cyber threats. American leadership in both the private and public sectors has identified a gap in our cyber capabilities, and has begun to implement committees, programs, and initiatives in order to boost interest and awareness in the cyber field. If America is going to remain at the forefront of technological capability, our education system needs to implement further programs and initiatives that connect our future work force to the skills necessary to be second-to-none in the cyber domain. But according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education 2012 Strategic Plan, only 12 high schools in the U.S. offer formalized cyber-security education in their training.

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The need for enhanced cybersecurity is shaping the future force structure of the military as well, including the creation of the new United States Army Cyber Command. Through the efforts of the Network Science Center and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the United States Military Academy has responded to the deficit in cyber-security education through several means, including sponsoring the Vulnerable Web Server (VWS) project to provide a virtual environment in which students and instructors can learn to identify and respond to cyber vulnerabilities. As part of the project, the VWS team has written an instruction manual that contains definitions of cyber threats, and additional student and teacher resources.

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One third of the world’s population lives in poverty. Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. We save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And we campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them. We are determined to change the world by mobilising the power of people against poverty.

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But as we move towards an increasingly digital future, a smart digital strategy is critical for an organisation like Oxfam. We must be equipped both strategically and tactically to inspire support among members of the public through innovative use of online channels. That’s why Oxfam Ireland recently collaborated with IBM on a new Digital Marketing Strategy under IBM’s Impact Grant Program.

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