IBM has a deep and long standing commitment to the communities in which we live and work. The Volunteer Excellence Award annually recognizes a select number of IBM employees who embody IBM values through their dedication, innovation, and personal commitment, and live our practices by leveraging their skills and by being engaged.
Congratulations to the 12 Volunteer Excellence Award winning teams or individuals for receiving the highest form of volunteer recognition globally from IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty. Their work is inspiring and offers models for success in similar volunteer engagements elsewhere.
Each award-winning employee or team will be featured in a detailed story of service in the coming months, but you can read a brief overview of each award winner below.
India - Giving kids with disabilities a chance to fulfill their ambitions
Karthik Mulakaluri has led a team of IBM volunteers assisting students with cerebral palsy and other disabilities at the Spastics Society of Karnataka (SSK). The team plays a vital role at SSK—participating in everything from organizational strategy and vision development to curriculum creation and classroom instruction, including workshops for teachers and staff at SSK to help them build a roadmap and vision for the organization. Also, IBM volunteers and Karthik have taught courses on computer technology coupled with personality development. Several students have gotten jobs with the skills they learned in the IBM-led courses at SSK. Karthik’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this November.
Hong Kong - Envisioning a future without cyberbullying in Hong Kong
In collaboration with the Education Bureau (EDB) of HKSAR, Team Hong Kong launched the Internet Safety and Anti-Cyberbullying Student Training Program to primary and secondary students in Hong Kong. The team adopted an “Ambassador Training model” to amplify the reach of the program. At the end of each program students pledge to be anti-cyberbullying Ambassadors throughout the school year, taking the message to their peers and looking for additional ways they can promote the anti-cyberbullying message. Team Hong Kong’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this June.
China - Promoting technology with women, children and communities
Team China promoted technology science across several audiences in a series of ongoing and one-time volunteer activities and in partnership with the Shanghai Science Education Development Foundation (SSEDF). At year’s end, 33 IBMers had partnered with SSEDF to provide voluntary service to over 500 students, 300 citizens and 25 women scientists—contributing more than 380 volunteer hours, demonstrating several of IBM’s practices, using resources from the On Demand Community, and enhancing personal and professional skills. Team China’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this July.
Japan - Giving the gift of knowledge
Team Japan partnered with Sodateage Net, a nonprofit organization (NPO) to put together a proposal to combat youth unemployment in Japan for the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Four IBMers, with expertise in government sector strategy consulting, IT architecture and data analytics, came together and took leadership of developing what would become known as the “Youth Unemployment White Paper,” on behalf of Sodateage Net. The IBM volunteer team now has an ongoing commitment to Sodateage Net to help them raise awareness and develop effective ways to support youths in unemployment. Team Japan’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this September.
Germany - Envisioning improved education and sustainable food sources for children in Tanzania
Petra Bernhardt listened for need, and envisioned a future where school children in her home town could help build a sustainable school for children in Mangula, Tanzania. Petra identified stakeholders to develop partnerships to enable a community of support for the Forest Zone School of Mangula. As well, she was able to establish an official cooperation agreement between both Würmtalschule Grund- und Werkrealschule, Merklingen, Germany and the Forest Zone School, Tanzania. Zone School, Tanzania. Petra Bernhardt’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this July.
Netherlands - Helping immigrants and jobseekers enhance their skills
Team Netherlands built and delivered a program of education courses designed to help immigrants and jobseekers enhance their skills and improve their employability. In addition to a curriculum of general Information and Communications Technology (ICT) courses, the team is adding classes to enable women to develop skills precisely in the areas in which they will seek employment. Coming off their success, the team worked with several volunteers to formally establish Stichting Vrouwen Aan Het Werk (VAHW), or the Foundation for Women at Work, to turn their project into an ongoing commitment. Team Netherlands’ story of volunteer excellence will be featured this May.
United Kingdom - Virtual Science Lab ignites interest in STEM subjects
Team United Kingdom created the ‘Raspberry Pi – Virtual Science Lab’ Project using the Raspberry Pi device (a $40 credit card sized fully programmable computer) to engage students in STEM topics. As well as planning, designing and delivering the project, the team of Hursley volunteers also created customized software that talks to the Raspberry Pi creating output that the children understand and learn from. The team helped the students to create experiments using Raspberry Pi’s, home-made sensors, MaKey MaKey devices (an invention kit for beginners that enables everyday objects to be turned into ‘touchpads’) and software the children customized. Team United Kingdom’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this October.
Argentina - Children with Down Syndrome have a fun new tool for learning
Team Argentina was invited by ASDRA (Down Syndrome Association of Argentina) to participate in a project aimed at developing information technologies for use in the teaching and learning process of children with intellectual disabilities in both school, support centers, and at home. The team developed a game, called “Tuli Emociones” that aims to stimulate emotional responses in children by recognizing everyday situations. The game was chosen as the most innovative in the field of Education in the past three years by the ASDRA (Down Syndrome Association of Argentina). Team Argentina’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this August.
Uruguay - Creating opportunities for young people in Uruguay
Team Uruguay worked with Forge to develop a 10 month course designed to help students in their last year of high school develop the skills to compete for jobs as application testers—perhaps introducing young people to an area of attainable and desirable white-collar employment they never knew existed. The course consisted of four modules: introduction to computer concepts, testing, database and SQL, and tools. In the first module, the volunteers used the IBM On Demand activity kit, "Promote Computer Science" in order to introduce the students to the basics of computing. Twenty-six students participated in the three-hour, twice a week class taught by the IBM volunteers. Team Uruguay’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this September.
Costa Rica - Encouraging elementary students to have an interest is natural science
Team Costa Rica worked with one of the most important NGOs in Costa Rica dedicated to biodiversity, the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio). The organization’s program called “Gusto por la Ciencias” aims to encourage elementary level students to take an interest in natural science and engineering. The IBM volunteer team developed a course comprised of three modules for 20 fourth-grade children at a low income urban school using the Robotics Activity Kit. IBMers were able to pass along the importance of robotics, teach children that robotics and science can be fun to learn and how they can be incorporated in day to day activities. Team Costa Rica’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this December.
Toronto - Teaching respect for all spectrums of diversity
Team Toronto along with 840 IBM volunteers, and 5 corporate partners executed the “Teaching Respect” program across Canada. “Teaching Respect in Schools” is a global program created by IBM in partnership with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network in response to the escalating problem of bullying in schools as part of IBM’s Centennial day of service. The K-12 program focuses on the importance of respect for the individual and difference (diversity). The Canadian team expanded the “Teaching Respect in Schools” program to include our diversity network and all the spectrums of diversity. Team Toronto’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this August.
New England - Helping veterans re-integrate into the workforce
Team New England, and a growing group of IBM volunteers, work with veterans who attend the 1-1 job skill assistance workshops to give them a clearer resume, skills for interviewing, and knowing how to search the web. The team provided a day of service to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, an organization serving thousands of veterans each year who are facing or at risk of homelessness through a myriad of programs. They also provide mock-interviews with several veterans and have presented “what to expect in the workforce” – a presentation customized specifically for the veterans. Team New England’s story of volunteer excellence will be featured this May.