What do this college student, teacher, mentor, and Paul Otellini have in common?

5062772370_dc4a5aed32.jpgOn Thursday night I had the opportunity to attend the Technology and Social Innovation for the Public Good 2010 Awards Dinner, hosted by the World Affairs Council and their Global Philanthropy Forum. The event honored the contributions of Intel and our CEO, Paul Otellini, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and John Hennessy, President of Stanford University – for their leadership and contributions to the promotion of education, innovation and global development. The night was not just about looking backwards–the honorees also shared their views in a panel discussion led by Jane Wales on what they saw for the future. The critical role that technology and innovation will play in the coming years to advance global economic development and address some of the most pressing global challenges we face today – from the environment to healthcare to education.

Now, the picture they painted was not all rosy – the discussion also focused in on the formidable challenges that we face in improving access to and the quality of education, which the panel saw as essential to economic competitiveness and global development. But there was also optimism–John Hennessy related that he is seeing a shift in the students coming out of college today, effectively a rededication and commitment to making the world a better place. And they are looking at how to do this in different ways than what we have seen in the past, i.e. in the 60s and 70s – they see that they can effect change through different career paths and models, through business, though government, through NGOs, or by engaging in new social entrepreneurship models.

On that very point, what was most special about the night for me was the way the organization decided to introduce the honorees. Instead of the normal awards introductions, individuals who had either worked with the honorees or had been impacted by their work, were asked to share their own stories with those present. I had the chance to meet and sit with the three individuals who were there to share how they had leveraged their involvement in Intel’s education programs to make a difference. These three individuals embody the spirit and focus of what John Hennessy was talking about -they are applying their skills and talents in the world to help and inspire others.

Their videos do what I know I can’t do justice to in words (bear with me as I’m still getting the hang of my new little video camera, sorry for my thumb appearing in one of them :) ).

But click to hear from Amanda Alonzo, a science teacher from Lynbrook High School who is making some parents want to move into her school district so their kids can have her as a teacher. Watch Ritik Malhotra, a freshman at UC Berkeley and Intel ISEF alum describe his project on a new genetics based disease detection system that he developed (yes, something he amazingly developed when he was in still in high school…). And hear from Ivan Martinez, who is pursuing a career in audio engineering (a passion developed while a member of the Intel Computer Clubhouse) and who is in turn now inspiring youth to find their own passions by serving as a mentor and the music technology coordinator back at the Clubhouse.

Now, like a good CSR practioner, I can always rattle off all of our education data – how many teachers we’ve reached through the Intel Teach program (8 million), how many students compete each year in local science fairs leading up to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (6 million), and how many Intel Computer Clubhouses there are (over 100 around the world). The scale of the impact we can have through these programs, and the passion of my colleagues around the world who manage them always inspires me. But meeting Amanda, Ritik, and Ivan- their contributions and dedication is something that just can’t be captured in the numbers. It’s truly people like them that make me optimistic about our future and make me so proud to work for a company that can help support them along the way.

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