IBM Launches First Worldwide Volunteer Initiative Aimed at Company Retirees

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ARMONK, NY - 29 Jun 2004: IBM today announced the next step in its On Demand Community volunteer initiative by enabling its approximately 160,000 retirees to leverage new technology tools to increase the impact and value of volunteer efforts in schools and local agencies across the globe.

"This initiative marks the first time that a major corporation has made valuable technology assets and business innovation available for free -- anytime, anywhere -- to its retired workforce," said Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM Foundation and vice president of IBM Corporate Community Relations.

"Our own research indicates that many IBM retirees donate more than 35 to 40 hours a month in significant community work in schools and small nonprofit organizations in real need of the kind of expertise IBM retirees can provide," Litow said. "The goal of IBM On Demand Community is to help our employees and retirees make a bigger difference when they volunteer. By giving them access to 21st Century technology tools and other resources, communities worldwide stand to benefit tremendously."

IBM launched On Demand Community for its employees in late 2003. Managed by a company intranet Web site available to employees worldwide, the initiative includes a full range of technology solutions designed specifically for volunteer work in schools and nonprofit organizations. IBM leaders always intended to include its retiree population in the program, but first had to implement new technology that would enable its retirees to enter the company intranet site that had traditionally been reserved for current employees.

The technology solutions now available to IBM retiree volunteers include dynamic classroom presentations that emphasize the importance of math and science, helping teachers use the internet to bring classroom teaching alive, helping local education officials lead change in schools, online mentoring of students and more.

"I haven't come across any major corporation that has developed the resource capacity that IBM On Demand Community will provide its retirees," said Kathy Burnes, Senior Research Associate at The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College. The Center is conducting ground-breaking research involving the role of retirees in civic engagement as part of a three-year project led by Volunteers of America and funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies. "The scope of this initiative and the idea that retirees can tap into company resources and provide them on an individual basis in their communities is unique," she said.

National organizations that study and research volunteerism say IBM's On Demand Community is the first corporate initiative to include its retirees to this degree. IBM has over 114,000 U.S. retirees, and approximately 50,000 more abroad. IBM currently employs over 320,000 persons in 164 countries around the world.

For retiree volunteers who donate time to community organizations, On Demand Community gives retiree volunteers access to innovative new IBM technology that will help clients of senior centers and organizations for the disabled access and see the Internet better. Other tools include curricula for after school community programs, and tools that lead community nonprofits through a step-by-step technology assessment and the creation of a technology plan that will help the organization better serve its clients.

According to Civic Ventures, a national organization focused on volunteerism among older Americans, nearly half of all Americans aged 55 or older have volunteered at least once in the previous year. Even among those aged 75 and older, 43 percent had volunteered at some point in the previous year.

"Our statistics tell us that IBM retirees figure prominently in this trend, and that's why we believe On Demand Community will have such a great impact -- for the individual and for the community," Litow said. "One of the features on the Web site enables employees and retirees to select a high-impact volunteer project, whether they have one hour a week to give, or one hour a year."

IBM launched On Demand Community for its employees in late November, 2003. Since then, over 16,000 employees have registered at the web site and are tracking their hours to be eligible for grants of technology or cash awards to the organizations where they volunteer. The company expects to have more than 25,000 active On Demand Community volunteers by 2005.


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