I recently returned from a two week deployment in Haiti as part of the Intel Education Service Corps (IESC). It was a fantastic experience and gave me a fresh perspective on Intel’s diverse CSR programs.
Intel is known for its commitment to volunteerism – our employees contributed over one million hours of their time in 2010. The IESC program builds on this tradition with a special opportunity for Intel employees to support NGO education projects using the Intel-powered classmate PC.
In “CSR wonk” circles, IESC is classified as an International Corporate Volunteering (ICV) program. Our program was launched in 2009, and we have joined some impressive company, or I should say companies – including IBM, Pfizer, Dow, Ernst & Young, FedEx, and many others. Intel also participates in the ICV Leadership Council, organized by CDC Development Solutions, an NGO specializing in corporate volunteerism. It’s a great way to share lessons learned and discuss best-practices on ICV programs.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that an ICV program has to resonate with the business. In the case of Intel, in addition to developing leadership skills and cross-cultural fluency, IESC volunteers work closely with members of the Intel Learning Series alliance, made up of more than 500 vendors of educational software, hardware, content, services and peripherals that support the classmate PC.
This allows IESC volunteers to support an Intel product ecosystem by extending its reach. Take our recent project in Haiti, for example: the town of Mirebalais in Haiti’s central region certainly doesn’t feel as though it’s just off the coast of Florida. While Mirebalais was spared direct damage from the 2010 earthquake, but its citizens – like most Haitians – struggle to make ends meet. An estimated three-quarters of the Haitian population lives on less than two dollars per day, and only one-third of children reach the 6th grade. ICT penetration in classrooms is practically zero.
So it was particularly meaningful for our IESC team to support Educatech (an Intel Learning Series alliance reseller in Port-au-Prince) in the installation of a computer lab at L’Ecole de Choix, a new school supported by Zynga.org.
With two months of preparation and coordination with our client and Educatech, our IESC team successfully configured and installed a variety of hardware and software platforms and provided training to the school’s teachers, system administrator and 150 students during our two week visit. It was hard work, but immensely rewarding.
IESC allows Intel employees to develop their skills and give back to the community while building Intel’s “social business” in education. We currently implement ten projects per year – NGOs interested in working with us are welcome to contact us through this blog.