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Education in Communities

IBM understands that educating children is a top priority in every community. And so, as part of our commitment to innovation and leadership, we help build strong foundations for success through educational programs designed to inspire, prepare and support children and young adults as they develop the skills they need to lead the next generation.

Our portfolio of educational programs continues to evolve and grow to help strengthen teacher instruction and better meet the learning needs of children. In 2011, IBM launched new educational programs, and also expanded on other initiatives well underway.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH)

Connecting the dots among secondary education, higher learning and professional careers is an important component to economic and individual success. Students require the foundation of solid learning to thrive, but also need guidance and support in order to help them apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings. They require a personalized pathway toward mastery of the skills and knowledge needed to make the transition from education to industry.

In September 2011, the New York City Department of Education, The City University of New York (CUNY), New York City College of Technology (“City Tech”) and IBM opened Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), an innovative public school spanning grades 9–14. Based in Brooklyn, New York, P-TECH launched with 103 ninth-grade students from all boroughs of the city, but predominantly from the surrounding neighborhoods. Students were not screened for admission, and no tests were required, but interest had to be demonstrated by attending a school fair or a parent meeting.

The goal for P-TECH’s student population is completion of a no-cost associate degree within six years. With this degree graduates will be positioned to seek entry-level positions in the highly competitive fields of information technology or to complete their studies in a four-year higher education institution.

As part of school learning, students participate in an ongoing, sequenced Workplace Learning curriculum informed by current and future industry standards that includes career goals, mentoring, guest speakers, workplace visits and internships. Minimum requirements for entry-level IT jobs, as provided by IBM and other industry partners, have been mapped to the curriculum and are serving as academic benchmarks and targets. A coalition of industry advisors is assuring that the program aligns with industry needs as the IT field evolves. To serve as an added incentive to students, IBM also is making graduates first in line for entry-level jobs—thereby strengthening the continuum from school to college and career.

The broader goal of the program is to apply the knowledge and experiences developed in this pilot school to serve as a model for both new and traditional high schools in New York City and nationally. And we are already showing progress toward that goal. In February 2012, IBM released a new playbook designed to outline how to develop an innovative grades 9–14 school like P-TECH. The playbook is the result of a Smarter Cities Challenge grant to the City of Chicago, which now plans to open five grades 9–14 schools in September 2012 modeled after P-TECH. One of the schools will open as a collaboration with IBM, Chicago Public Schools, and City Colleges of Chicago.

“To put America back to work, parents, teachers, students, civic leaders and private sector employers must collaborate on new and innovative approaches to public education. This model will help close the skills gap not only in the City of Chicago, but in any city that chooses to implement the playbook and open a grades 9–14 school.”

Stanley S. Litow

Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs

Pathways in Technology Early College High School Pathways in Technology Early College
High School

P-TECH in New York City provides students the opportunity to earn an associate degree—giving students a direct route to an IT career.

Teachers TryScience

IBM understands that preparing the next generation of innovators requires great science teachers with the skills and knowledge to educate, inspire and motivate students. But the demand for science teachers continues to outstrip the supply; in the United States, about one-third of all middle school science teachers are not certified to teach science. The challenge is providing teachers with the resources they need to strengthen their instruction and better prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century, many of which will increasingly be in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. According to a 2011 report from the United States Department of Commerce, STEM jobs are expected to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade, and workers in STEM fields are less likely to experience unemployment.

And so, in the spirit of IBM’s TryScience online program for students, Teachers TryScience was launched in 2011. The program is a collaborative effort with the New York Hall of Science and and is designed for teachers—primarily at the middle school level—to improve their instruction in project-based learning. This site provides free and engaging standards-based lessons, integrated with teaching strategies and resources, which are designed to spark students’ interest in STEM. The site also provides social networking tools that enable educators to comment on and rate the lessons and resources, submit their own teaching materials and form public and private groups to engage in focused discussions with colleagues in the same district or around the globe.

“Teachers TryScience is an excellent new resource for science teachers that want to strengthen their instruction in project-based learning. Not only does it offer free, high quality lessons, but it links them with strategies and resources that will give teachers the skills and knowledge to make the most of them in their classrooms.”

Margaret Honey

President of the New York Hall of Science

Reading Companion

It is well-known that literacy is a key contributor to the competitiveness and economic growth of any region. Launched more than a decade ago, Reading Companion® is IBM’s Web-based literacy initiative that uses voice recognition technology to help children and adults learn to read in English. The software listens as students read words and phrases that appear on the screen, correcting pronunciation as needed and offering encouragement along the way.

Reading Companion provides a private, unintimidating setting in which to learn, and is currently being used in more than 2,700 schools and not-for-profit organizations in 41 countries. Approximately 121,000 users are participating in this grant program.

Reading Companion has proved an excellent resource to IBM employees, teachers from existing grant sites and others who were interested in contributing to the growing virtual library of e-books. E-books are practice reading books that can be created using a tool built into Reading Companion. In 2011 alone, 89 new titles were added to the Reading Companion virtual library of e-books from authors in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Poland, Turkey and the United States. This brings the total number of books available from the virtual library to 356, half of which are for young learners.

In 2011, Reading Companion books were used in Bogota, Colombia, where 37 IBMers volunteered their time with 450 students in eight schools to promote literacy and bilingual education. As part of IBM’s Celebration of Service, students read books from the Reading Companion library and volunteers created an interactive word memory game based on those books to reinforce the words learned. Working with the not-for-profit organization Dividendo por Colombia, the Chamber of Commerce in Bogota and UNICA University, the project helped identify strengths and weaknesses in how bilingual education is taught in the schools.

41 countries are currently taking advantage of IBM’s Reading Companion to help 121,000 people in 2,700 schools and not-for-profit organizations learn to read in English.

KidSmart Early Learning Program

IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Program enriches pre-kindergarten curriculum with interactive teaching and learning activities using the latest technology. IBM’s KidSmart program features Young Explorer™, a computer housed in brightly colored, child-friendly Little Tikes™ furniture and equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. Since the inception of the KidSmart Early Learning Program in 1998, IBM has donated more than 60,000 Young Explorers to schools and not-for-profit organizations in 60 countries, reaching more than 105,000 teachers and serving more than 10 million students.

In 2011, thousands of IBMers around the world helped to build and install Young Explorers in primary schools and not-for-profit organizations. For example, 800 IBM volunteers worked with 370 preschools in 13 EMEA countries as part of IBM’s Celebration of Service. Volunteers delivered educational modules using video podcasts that prepared teachers for implementing the KidSmart program in these schools, and a team from IBM is monitoring the benefits of these donations. The KidSmart program is also supporting quality daycare programs that care for the children of parents enrolled in New York City colleges, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY). IBM provided 45 Young Explorers to CUNY Child Care Centers at 14 campuses, serving 1,400 children who attend these centers while their parents go to class or engage in academic related internships and fieldwork. The collaboration between CUNY and IBM is delivering a host of social and economic benefits:

  • Young children get an early start developing the skills they’ll need for future success.
  • Struggling parents are encouraged to finish their education and participate more fully in the economy, knowing their children are receiving enriched care while they attend school.
  • Teachers get access to a leading-edge educational tool to help build and sharpen their skills.

Smarter approaches to education will help build smarter cities.

10 million students have been served by IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Program since 1998.

Transition to Teaching

Transition to Teaching is an extension of IBM’s work in education and community service. Since 2006, IBM has supported those employees who want to begin second careers as fully accredited teachers in STEM subjects in their local communities. Transition to Teaching provides employees with guidance and funding to help them transition into teaching as their next career move, while still working at IBM. IBM was the first company to provide its employees with this kind of opportunity to pursue a second career as a K–12 math or science teacher.

By 2011, the number of IBM employees participating in the Transition to Teaching program reached 105, and 30 graduates had begun teaching in classrooms or teaching online courses in the United States.

Acknowledging that a shift in vocation takes time and training, the Transition to Teaching initiative helps underwrite the costs while employees pursue the education and training experiences required for teacher certification—combining traditional coursework, online courses and practice teaching. Employees are able to choose the certification program that meets their needs so they can get the necessary education courses as well as assistance during the student teaching period.

IBM has begun sharing what it has learned about the critical path to a second career in teaching with other companies, as well as with the education community. We hope to help develop a thriving talent pipeline for K–12 science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

University Relations

Collaborating with the academic community has been critical to IBM throughout the company’s history. We believe that higher learning is central to the advancement of our company, and civilization in general.

That’s why IBM works with more than 6,000 universities around the world on a number of levels; we conduct collaborative research and development, we provide grants and donations, and we inform curriculum to help develop the next generation of science and technology innovators.

In 2011, IBM embarked on an initiative called Students for a Smarter Planet, designed to involve students in creating projects that benefit communities. This coalition of local, student-led organizations and individuals collaborates with other student groups, professionals and policy makers to develop and implement innovative solutions with a positive impact. Students for a Smarter Planet participants have the opportunity to work with professionals on projects, find a mentor, enhance resumes, shadow executives, possibly even land a co-op or internship. IBM plays the role of facilitator in this program, while students take center stage in activities that use technology to make the world a better place to live. Examples include sponsoring a national science fair in partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as working with the University of Vermont to create a sculpture that responds to commands from mobile phones.

Other Shared University Research Awards and Open Collaboration Research Awards projects include IBM’s initiatives with universities in China to improve supply chains. Global supply chains have become the norm today, and many of them run through China at some point. In order to help drive efficiency—which is not only critical for business, but also for the environment—IBM is working to develop ways to better measure and manage supply chains. One project, in conjunction with Tsinghua University, aims to track carbon emissions for large manufacturing companies and help them optimize processes; in another, IBM is working with Beijing Jiaotong University to develop resource planning for railroad transportation in order to help optimize the service levels and productivity of railroad terminals.

$100 million in contributions to higher education around the world in 2011.