It’s been years since we learned that the world is “flat” and that all enterprises – whether commercial, governmental or non-profit – are globally connected. But what we’re still learning in this era of global integration is how to prepare the next generation of leaders to realize what we characterize as the triple benefit – developing their skills while solving communities’ problems and opening new markets. This isn’t just a “business” problem.
It’s an issue that impacts – and will shape the future of – almost every human endeavor
on the planet.
Running our cities, educating our children, protecting our health and sustaining our environment are just some of the world’s critical challenges that no single company or economic sector can address or solve alone. Mastering the world’s challenges requires the world’s collective intelligence and expertise and true collaboration. That’s why legacy models of top-down corporate philanthropy have become obsolete. In their place have arisen innovative approaches to transforming the ways we interact, learn and lead. At IBM, these approaches involve maximizing the value of our most important assets – the time and talent of our employees – versus merely donating our excess cash.
The State of Connecticut will open our first P-TECH-model grades 9 to 14 school in Norwalk this September. The six-year Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) is being developed as a public-private partnership among the Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College and IBM, and will graduate students with both a high school diploma and a free Associate in Applied Science degree. Students at NECA will be paired with an IBM mentor and will be first in line for jobs at IBM upon graduation.
NECA will be only the first of many planned P-TECH schools across the state – each school partnered with one of Connecticut’s growth employers in such industries as advanced manufacturing, biotech, health care and insurance. As I mentioned in this
year’s State of the State address, these innovative P-TECH schools will play a critical
role in keeping Connecticut at the forefront in public education as they help to ensure
that our young people are prepared for the successful pursuit of higher education and meaningful careers.
One of the most promising experiments in American education – Chicago’s Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy – is a new type public high school designed to achieve two of our country’s most urgent goals: help more young adults gain the skills they need to succeed in today’s globally competitive economy, and supply companies with the trained talent they require. Sarah E. Goode, a P-TECH-model school, was featured in the February 24, 2014 TIME Magazine cover story.
But for too many students, schools like Sarah E. Goode simply are not available. It’s time for students across the nation to have access to redesigned career and technical high schools offering this vital 21st century approach.
The education achievement gap – the disparity in academic performance between groups of students – is perhaps the most critical public education challenge America faces today. Measures such as grades, test scores, course selection, dropout rates, and college-completion rates have long shown that socioeconomic status and race describe the dividing lines among our students. How do we begin to change this equation? While we can’t change the past, we must be mindful of it to successfully shape the future.
In the Charleston County, South Carolina School District (CCSD), we have focused intently on ways to narrow the achievement gap, but doing so remains a serious challenge. There is no “one size fits all” solution in a school district that serves a population with our diversity of backgrounds and needs. CCSD serves students both from the city’s highest-earning 10 percent of households and from the lowest-earning 10 percent. Our district includes both densely populated urban neighborhoods and sparsely inhabited rural areas. And the issues of racial strife that have played a significant role in South Carolina’s history still reverberate in the hearts and minds of many residents.
It’s a great time to be a Girl Scout! As Chief Executive Officer at Girl Scouts-North Carolina Coastal Pines (GS-NCCP), I get to experience Girl Scouting and witness its impact on girls each and every day. From the foundation of our mission, defined over 100 years ago, “to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place” to the delivery of technology-based program opportunities for today’s girls, Girl Scouting encourages girls to push their boundaries, test their limits and develop their leadership potential. At GS-NCCP we are proud of the opportunities that we have provided for the girls across our territory, but we could not have done it without partnerships like those we share with IBM, its employees and its Women in Technology group.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2018, the U.S. STEM workforce will require more than 8.6 million people, and yet only 25 percent of all students nationally are interested in pursuing STEM careers. For girls, that number is even lower. While the gender gap in STEM interest had remained relatively steady over the past 20 years, it is now increasing at a significant rate. Female students express STEM interest at 14.5 percent compared to 39.6 percent for their male counterparts.
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’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.
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
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.
In his recent State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York State “is in the midst of an education reinvention” that is part of an overall strategy for “Rebuilding New York.” A critical part of that reinvention will be New York’s expansion of the P-TECH grades 9 – 14 schools model to include 10 additional schools – one in each of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council areas. These 10 new P-TECH schools will join the 16 schools that already are in development across the state.
Through rigorous academics and career-relevant curricula, P-TECH-model schools in
New York City and Chicago are showing results even before their first classes graduate. President Obama’s October 2013 visit to Brooklyn P-TECH – and the White House’s earmarking $100 million for national expansion of the model– underscored the importance of the P-TECH movement and the need to close America’s skills gap by connecting education to jobs nationwide.