I am honored to begin serving as IBM’s new Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and President of the IBM Foundation, and excited for the work ahead.
First, I’d like to congratulate Stan Litow on his retirement and thank him for his inspired leadership. At the onset of his two dozen years leading IBM Citizenship and the IBM Foundation, corporate philanthropies, including IBM, were largely cash contributors. Stan developed a strategy of contributing IBM’s most valuable assets – our technology and the time and expertise of our people, and focused both in innovative ways to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. This approach transformed IBM Citizenship into a global leader in corporate philanthropy and has influenced many other practitioners to follow our lead, changing the very nature of Corporate Citizenship. Stan is a visionary and an unstoppable force for positive social change in the world, and we are so grateful that he has agreed to stay on part time through the end of the year to offer his advice & counsel.
I feel very fortunate to have worked closely with Stan on this transformation over the past 10 years, and now to have the opportunity to lead IBM into the next chapter alongside a talented global team and an incredible network of cross-sector partners. As a technology company with a 106-year history, we see first-hand the power of technology to transform society – but we also know that technology on its own is not a silver bullet. To be ethical and effective, technology-based solutions must always be designed in partnership with community and government leaders to address critical issues effectively.
This philosophy is a core design principle of our work across programs and issue areas. For example, in 2008, we pioneered an immersive service program – Corporate Service Corps. Often referred to as the corporate version of the Peace Corps, the CSC deploys teams of IBM’s top talent to work in partnership with community organizations in the developing world. Corporate Service Corps teams work shoulder-to-shoulder on the ground with our partners to uncover root causes and develop solutions together. Since we started this work, Corporate Service Corps and its sister programs, Smarter Cities Challenge and the new IBM Health Corps, have deployed over 4,000 IBM employees to tackle strategic challenges with nonprofit and government partners in over 40 countries. Among our most prominent partners have been the Peace Corps, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, and the American Cancer Society.
Another example of our collaborative partnership approach to problem solving came in 2011. IBM Citizenship designed and launched the P-TECH grade 9-14 schools program, a public-private partnership that prepares under-served students with the academic and workplace skills needed to compete in the 21st Century economy. P-TECH is changing the very definition of high school, graduating students with both their high school diplomas and their associate degrees, and providing them with mentors and paid internships. Starting with one school in Brooklyn, New York, there are now 60 schools across six U.S. states, and seven schools in Australia. The initial school has achieved graduation rates that significantly surpass national community college completion rates, with 37% of students from the first P-TECH class in 2011 graduating early. The school already has had 54 early graduates. Most are pursuing four-year postsecondary degrees, and 10 are working in new collar jobs at IBM while continuing their undergraduate studies.
As we innovate and respond to dynamically changing needs in the world, we will continue to ground our work in IBM’s core values and principles. Looking ahead, we already have a lot planned for the next few months. This spring, we are partnering with the Yale School of Management, the Global Business School Network & Aspen Case Competition on a case study of the impact of Corporate Service Corps. We will announce our next cohort of Smarter Cities Challenge partners; deliver IBM Impact Grants around the world; kick off the IBM Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign in the U.S. and Canada; publish our annual IBM Corporate Responsibility report; and celebrate the next graduates from P-TECH schools in New York and Chicago, while launching new schools in Morocco.
I look forward to the work we will do together, and welcome your ideas on how we can boldly innovate as we apply IBM’s unique capabilities and resources to make a positive impact on the most challenging issues of our time.
Jennifer Ryan Crozier is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and President of the IBM International Foundation.
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