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Corporate Community Relations to Corporate Citizens and Corporate Affairs

Community Relations
 
On Demand Community Saturday School
Hillbrow Community Initiative Mentor Place
Mandela Park Mosaics Reading Companion
KidSmart EXITE camps
TryScience SME Toolkit
World Community Grid Web Adaptation Technology
Hermitage Eternal Egypt

As a business, IBM is committed to delivering innovation that matters for our company, our clients and our community. IBM's corporate social investment reflects this promise by addressing some of society's most complex problems through technological innovation.

We believe the same information technology innovations that are revolutionising businesses can provide important breakthroughs for public and non-profit organisations. We are therefore working hand-in-hand with these organisations to design technology solutions that address their particular problems and to help them use information technology to improve the quality of life for themselves and others.

We believe that corporate social investment is more than a company responsibility; it is also the responsibility of individuals. IBM therefore encourages its staff to get involved and to give of their time and expertise to assist those in need. Willing volunteers can choose from a diverse range of IBM initiatives that support education, workforce development, arts and culture, and communities in need.

On Demand Community

(Includes Sat School, Hillbrow Community Initiative, Mentor Place, Mandela Park Mosaics)

IBM On Demand Community is a global initiative that provides employees with access to an extensive array of tools and resources to facilitate personalised volunteer efforts in non-profit organisations and schools. Through the website, volunteers can register to obtain “on demand” access to training materials and information for volunteer projects. For every 40 hours volunteered over a 5 month period, IBM employees obtain an IT equipment or cash grant exclusively for the benefit of their chosen NPO, NGO or public school. In South Africa, IBM employees use On Demand Community to leverage their skills for initiatives such as Saturday School, Hillbrow Community Initative, Mentor Place and Mandela Park Mosaic.

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Saturday School

Central to IBM’s corporate social investment is education. Named Ithuba Lethu (Our Chance), the IBM Saturday School programme is an initiative in support of the government’s call to grow critical maths and science skills in the country. Through this programme, IBM offers a series of extracurricular lessons at the IBM offices on Saturday mornings, in the areas of maths, science, technology and life orientation skills.

The teachers are IBM employees who have volunteered their time to impart the knowledge and skills they have acquired during their careers. Initially the beneficiaries of this initiative are 30 learners from two previously disadvantaged schools – Ivory Park Secondary School and Realogile High School in Alexandra. IBM has also partnered with the Department of Education Gauteng to drive this initiative which is expected to expand and involve more schools in future.

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Hillbrow Community Initiative

The Hillbrow Community task team is a group of IBM employees who have volunteered to provide assistance to community-based organisations of the Hillbrow Health Precinct that support HIV/AIDS initiatives. These volunteers offer their time and expertise in areas including finance, administration and organisational skills, in an effort to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and Poverty Alleviation v.

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Mentor Place

Mentoring is another area where IBM employees can make an enormous difference. IBM volunteers are paired in an online relationship with university students, matching specific skills to provide students with subject matter expertise from the “real” world. Thus far, 10 students from the Black Management Forum’s Student Chapter have been placed in the pilot programme. In addition, young entrepreneurs from the Government Umsobovu Development Trust have been placed with IBM volunteers to acquire critical business skills.

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Mandela Park Mosaics

Mandela Park Mosaics is a non-profit organisation situated in Mandela Park Township in Hout Bay, Cape Town. The organisation employs previously unemployed women and trains them in the art of making mosaics for the private and corporate markets.

Using best-of-breed technology and On Demand Community tools, IBM senior consultants Alessandro Vignazia and Gerard Dumont assisted in creating a world-class website for Mandela Park Mosaics to promote its products and achievements – www.mandelaparkmosaics.co.za.

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Reading Companion

www.ReadingCompanion.org is an online interactive English literacy programme designed to supplement an existing literacy curriculum. Using innovative software and equipped with headset microphones, young (5 to 7 years old) and adult learners, are able to practice reading and pronunciation. They select an e-book from the virtual library and read the phrases and sentences aloud. The Reading Companion software “listens” and provides immediate audio feedback on pronunciation and accuracy. Depending on the accuracy of what was read, the companion provides positive reinforcement, provides the user an opportunity to try again, or offers the correct reading of the words on the screen.

Reading Companion’s availability on the web enables students to have access via their home, school or community organisation, and users are able to continue their lessons exactly where they left off in previous sessions. In addition, Reading Companion includes evaluation reports for instructors and teachers on the progress of individual students.

A number of schools have been selected to be part of the South African pilot programme, including

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KidSmart

IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Programme provides strong evidence that the introduction of information and communications technology can be a powerful tool for transforming education. The programme helps to bridge the “digital divide” and increases the comfort levels of using a computer for children and teachers at a pre-school level.

The centerpiece of KidSmart is the Young Explorer, a colourful play station manufactured by Little Tikes and IBM and loaded with award-winning educational software from Riverdeep - The Learning Company. Additionally, IBM has created a website for early learning and technology at www.kidsmartearlylearning.org. Produced in collaboration with the Centre for Children and Technology, Bank Street College of Education and United Way, the site is available in nine languages and includes a guide for parents to encourage early learning at home and a section for pre-school teachers that details how they can best use technology to support learning in their classrooms.

More than 700 KidSmart units have been installed in pre-and primary schools and early child development centres in all nine provinces across the country as part of IBM South Africa’s flagship R12 million investment programme launched six years ago.

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EXITE camps

Even though technology has already transformed the world dramatically, research shows that women are retreating from the fields of science and technology. IBM is addressing this issue through its EXITE (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camps, aimed at inspiring young women to make a difference in the world through maths, science and technology.

Over the course of a one week camp, young women in grade 7 and 8 – many from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with little or no previous exposure to technology – work in teams with IBM volunteers on a variety of exciting and interactive engineering and science projects. The majority of the students who have participated in a camp have indicated that they would consider pursuing an engineering or technical-related degree at a tertiary level. This shift in perception is critical for companies that depend on technical talent to fill key positions.

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TryScience

www.TryScience.org is a worldwide, interactive website designed to stimulate children’s interest in science. Developed through a collaboration of the New York Hall of Science, IBM, and the member institutions of the Association of Science-Technology Centres, TryScience is the collective knowledge of thousands of science experts in subjects ranging from archaeology to zoology.

TryScience offers a way for people everywhere to gain access to and discover the science presented by museums around the world through interactive exhibits, multimedia adventures, and live camera "field trips”. TryScience also provides hands-on science projects that children, parents, and teachers can do at home or in school.

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SME Toolkit

A project of the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group), the SME Toolkit offers free business management information and training for small and medium enterprises on accounting and finance, business planning, human resources, marketing and sales, operations, and information technology. The SME Toolkit offers a wide range of how-to articles, business forms, business software, online training, self-assessment exercises, quizzes and resources to help entrepreneurs in emerging markets and developing countries start and grow their businesses.

IBM has contributed $1 million to build the Toolkit platform in order to improve usability and performance, provide enhanced functionality and create a resource hub, learning location and meeting place for small and medium businesses. The SME toolkit and its regional partnerships can be found at www.smetoolkit.org.

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World Community Grid

World Community Grid is a global humanitarian campaign aimed at addressing the world's most critical health and societal issues. The initiative utilises the idle computing power of individual and business computers for research designed to help unlock genetic codes that underlie diseases like AIDS and HIV, Alzheimer's and cancer, improve forecasting of natural disasters and support studies that can protect the world's food and water. IBM has donated the hardware, software, technical services and expertise to build the infrastructure for World Community Grid and provides hosting, maintenance and support. Anyone can volunteer to donate the unused time on a computer by downloading World Community Grid's free software and registering at www.worldcommunitygrid.org.

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Web Adaptation Technology

Despite standards for web accessibility, many web pages remain difficult to use. Web Adaptation Technology is IBM’s method of making web pages usable by older adults and people with visual, motor, or cognitive disabilities.

This technology allows a user to personalise features for web access. One set of transformations is designed to address problems users might have with the visual presentation of pages. Certain changes such as font enlargement, font style, and inter-letter spacing, and colour contrast can increase legibility. Text can also be read out loud and images can be sharpened and/or magnified. In addition, there are adaptations targeting motor impairments.

IBM South Africa has started piloting this technology at the Wits Student’s With Disability unit, where the company has existing projects.

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Hermitage

The enormous heritage and historical value of the State Hermitage Museum in the heart of the historical Russian city of St Petersburg has in the past been limited to those who can visit it. However, with IBM’s computer technology assistance, the museum has created a digital self-portrait to provide people worldwide with greater access to information about the museum and its treasures. www.HermitageMuseum.org was launched with a $2 million IBM technology grant and has positioned the Hermitage as one of the most technologically advanced museums in the world. The website was developed by IBM researchers in Russia, Italy, Israel and the US, in collaboration with art historians at the Hermitage.

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Eternal Egypt

Eternal Egypt, a project between the Egyptian government and IBM, is the richest repository of information and media about Egyptian cultural history available on the web today. Funded by a $2.5 million IBM grant of technology and expertise, the Eternal Egypt project combines the most important locations, artefacts, people and stories from over 5000 years of Egyptian history into a multimedia experience. The stories of Eternal Egypt are told using the latest interactive technologies, high-resolution imagery, animations, virtual environments and three-dimensional models. In addition, web cameras transport viewers to modern-day heritage sites. Eternal Egypt is accessible by handheld digital guides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, by cell phone for visitors to the pyramids at Giza or the Luxor Temple in Upper Egypt, or through the Eternal Egypt website – www.EternalEgypt.org.

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