iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, netbooks. Being connected has become a central theme in our lives. With an arsenal of gadgets, we access the Internet and each other 24/7.For my role working in CSR, staying connected is more than just being able to read emails while riding the commuter train. It is also about connecting people in order to bridge gaps. Rich/poor, educated/illiterate, healthy/sick. It is our mission at Intel to transcend these divides to make the world a better, fairer place. In my role working in CSR, one of the things that I look for are examples of Intel employees finding innovative ways to connect with external partners to help address social challenges. My colleague, Kurt De Buck from our Intel Belgium office,worked with his group to kick start the Wonderful Digital Future initiative by donating laptops to 11 university students (why 11? Because this year is 2011!) at the International Health Science University (IHSU) in Uganda. Wonderful Digital Future focuses on programs in which Europe and Africa reach out to each other. Watch the video. Bridging the digital divide Kurt’s group donated part of the money designated for New Year’s customer gifts to YouBridge.org. YouBridge, a Belgian initiative, allows people to give new laptops to students in developing countries. The donor chooses who will receive the laptop and then joins an online social network of donors and recipients. The beauty of YouBridge is it lets people connect across physical and economic barriers. For both donor and recipient, YouBridge opens a new ‘digital’ window to the world. As Pieter Dewinter from YouBridge describes it: “At YouBridge, we are very positive about this project with Intel. Not only because Intel is one of the few companies where CSR is a genuine and fundamental part of the corporate philosophy, but also because of the direct impact our collaboration has: the TV-spot was made possible and for 11 young and ambitious people, thanks to Intel we have made a true difference in their lives and given them a window to the world. We hope this is just the start of a great partnership!” Also Intel’s customers, whose “gifts” have been donated in part to this charity, also get something from the initiative: a mouse pad featuring pictures of the 11 participating students, allowing them to see the transformative power of technology and learn about these impressive students.