IBMers Give Back in Centennial Day of Service

At its centennial celebration, IBM took time to acknowledge its 300,000 workers who volunteered their time to community efforts on June 15.

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - In celebration of its 100 years in business, IBM employees around the world took part in activities in their respective communities in one collective IBM Centennial Day of Service on June 15.

At IBM's centennial celebration event here on June 16, Stan Litow, IBM's vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, said, "What happened yesterday was 300,000 IBM employees were involved in specially designed and led community activities in 120 countries around the world where they touched and served millions of people."

Known as the IBM Celebration of Service, the project spans more than 120 countries where IBMers live and conduct business. June 15 culminated months of volunteering with an official IBM Centennial Day of Service.

The IBM Celebration of Service was designed to allow employees, retirees, clients and business partners to donate their time and expertise during the company's centennial year. Indeed, 300,000 IBMers around the world-close to three quarters of its global workforce-are volunteering in more than 5,000 projects in 120 countries, meeting civic and societal challenges and serving millions in need, Litow said.

Since January 2011, IBMers, retirees and their families have donated more than 2.5 million hours of service to communities worldwide.

"To commemorate our 100 years as a corporation, IBM is setting a record for community service by sharing the best skills of our employees, making a real impact in the communities where we work and live," Litow said in a statement. "While this represents a historic and record-setting amount of service, what is most important is not the large number of employees volunteering nor the millions of hours of service they are providing; it is the high quality of the work that is being done. The impact will go far beyond the one day. We are building on our strong heritage of skills-based service-a commitment that is in IBM's DNA."

"By bringing together its employees, retirees, partners and community members, IBM is undertaking the largest service challenge, of its kind, we have seen to date," Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute, said in a statement. "They are creating not only an impact on communities, but they are applying the unique and powerful IBM assets to catalyze a movement around service. We commend them for celebrating 100 years of corporate civic leadership in such a remarkable way."

Meanwhile, at the IBM celebration event, Litow said the services IBMers delivered on June 15 were not things that would last for just one day. "They built skills and tools that can help people for weeks and months. Litow said the IBMers could have "painted fences and ladled soup" which are helpful efforts and which some IBMers surely did. But many others "did much more," he said. Litow added that if IBM had charged for the services it could easily have been worth $100 million.

A selection of IBM Celebration of Service volunteer activities on June 15 include the following:

  • Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano will teach a classroom of high school students in his hometown of Baltimore about science and math through a discussion around Watson, the computer system that IBM invented that triumphed on the popular TV game show "Jeopardy!"
  • In Nigeria, IBM employees will mentor 100 small businesses for 100 days using the SME Toolkit to coach entrepreneurs on various areas of business, ranging from how to write a business plan, sales and marketing and small business accounting. Each entrepreneur also will have a "meet the mentor" session where IBM volunteers will help them achieve business goals.
  • In New Zealand, IBMers worked with Age Concern to assist senior citizens in using mobile-phone technology to help prepare for emergencies such as natural disasters, earthquakes or personal health issues.
  • In Turkey, IBM hosted a "volunteer marketplace" for 600 employees, bringing together 21 leading NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to discuss and initiate skills-based volunteering projects. Some projects include reading and book recording for the blind and an introduction to science and technology for middle school students.
  • In Uruguay, IBMers mentored young Uruguayans from impoverished neighborhoods to help them find their first jobs by partnering with NGO Projoven through the National Institute of Employment and Vocational Training.
  • Together, IBM and its client Citigroup partnered to improve literacy and technology awareness. In Mexico, with The Hunger Project, the companies are leveraging an IBM Reading Companion project to help reduce the level of illiteracy among the indigenous population, which will improve their overall quality of life.

In addition to the millions of service hours IBM's employees, retirees, families, clients and partners are donating, IBM is also donating some of its most successful volunteer activity kits such as a solar car experiment, a clean-water project and an Internet safety kit for children. These volunteer kits provide "how-to" instructions and step-by-step details to successfully implement a volunteer activity in the community. They are aimed to inspire volunteers to connect with their communities and help create a smarter planet. Anyone can visit to access service activity kits.

Also, as part of its centennial celebration, IBM will deliver hundreds of new service grants, valued at more than $12 million, which support employees' volunteer activities to build a smarter planet. The service grants include cash and equipment awards that support employees' volunteer activities. The new technology and cash grants expand IBM's commitment to communities by 140 percent over the last year, the company said.