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IBM pledges $250M for volunteer program

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — IBM Corp. pledged Monday to contribute $250 million in services to charities and nonprofit groups, expanding a program that sends rising stars within the company to developing countries to polish their leadership skills in diverse environments.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company announced the three-year commitment in conjunction with a speech by President Bush at the White House on volunteerism in which he praised the innovation of IBM's Corporate Services Corps program.

IBM describes the program as a corporate version of the Peace Corps. Interested employees apply for a limited number of slots. If selected — IBM says its acceptance rates are sometimes lower than Harvard University's — they are sent off to work with groups in emerging countries on a variety of business and technology problems, such as building out information technology infrastructure or starting microfinancing programs.

The $250 million refers to pro bono services and employees' time that IBM plans to donate over the next three years as part of the program.

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