Peace Corps and IBM Corporate Service Corps Team Up

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Melinda Tabler-Stone, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana (left), and Louise Hemond-Wilson, IBM Corporate Service Corps Member, are all smiles after Louise is sworn in as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer.

On Janaury 15, Louise Hemond-Wilson became the first IBM Corporate Service Corps member to be sworn in for duty as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer through a recent partnership between Peace Corps and IBM. Louise will support girls’ empowerment and gender equity projects. Her work will focus on connecting girls to electronic resources that reinforce school curriculums so that they can stay connected to their studies if they miss school for economic or other reasons. Additionally, her work aims to engage males in girls’ empowerment and gender equity practices within communities.

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 2, 2015 – The Peace Corps and IBM (NYSE: IBM) are launching an innovative public-private partnership to allow highly skilled corporate professionals to serve overseas in short-term, high-impact pro bono consulting assignments through the Peace Corps Response program.

The initiative, announced yesterday by Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation, is one of the first of its kind and set to launch in three countries next year.

“We are thrilled to embark on this new partnership that will bring together IBM’s multinational reach with Peace Corps’ grassroots network,” Hessler-Radelet said. “Peace Corps and IBM share a common dedication to problem-solving in a way that makes a measurable impact in the world, whether it is reinventing information and revolutionizing technology or helping communities address pressing needs at the last mile of development.”

The IBM Corporate Service Corps was created in 2008 to help solve  some of the most challenging problems in communities around the world while providing IBM employees with unique leadership development. Participants spend four weeks in groups of 10 to 15 working collaboratively with their host government and community counterparts to develop blueprints that address issues ranging from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and healthcare.  The program is managed by IBM Director of Corporate Citizenship Initiatives Gina Tesla, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama from 2000 to 2002.

Through the innovative partnership, the Peace Corps Response program will engage teams of IBM’s top global talent. Peace Corps Response was originally created to send returned Peace Corps volunteers to short-term, specialized volunteer assignments. In 2012, Peace Corps expanded the Response program to include Americans with at least 10 years of work experience and required language skills.

“We have enormous respect for the Peace Corps and what it has been able to accomplish in its nearly 55- year history,” Litow said. IBM’s Corporate Service Corps represents an innovative adaption of the Peace Corps model where a company’s most skilled employees can work in teams addressing some of the world’s most challenging problems. Formally working in close partnership with the Peace Corps is a validation of the unique model that IBM established. With Peace Corps’ and IBM’s long term commitments to pro bono problem solving, the globe’s most critical projects will have an even better chance to be sustainable, repeatable and effective.”

The first collaboration will take place in Ghana next year to support the Let Girls Learn initiative. Launched by the President and First Lady earlier this year, Let Girls Learn is a government-wide collaboration striving to eliminate the barriers 62 million girls worldwide face when trying to receive an education. Since the launch of Let Girls Learn, hundreds of Peace Corps volunteers have received additional training to make them agents of change for girls’ education.

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  • Peace Corps Response, initially the Crisis Corps, was originally a program for RPCVs. In 2010, Peace Corps expanded the program to include professionals who had not served in the Peace Corps.

  • I was delighted to read John Coyne’s # 5 about the history of the Peace Corps. George Carter who was the first Rep of the Peace Corps in Ghana was the Regional Director who approved my entry as Country Director in Afghanistan in 1966, before going to IBM as their VP in charge of Diversity–read recruiting African-Americans. He took the job in 1967 on the promise of the CEO that his next assignment would be a line job at IBM, which was what happened. George died in 2001, I believe.

    As Director of Strategic Planning at AT&T in the 1980’s, I am appreciative of IBM’s awareness that Corporate Social Responsibility extends beyond the boundaries of the towns in which
    the company has plants and payrolls. I recall that when AT&T was asked to provide child care for mothers on the payroll, the then VP
    reacted with outrage. IBM has been far more of a risk taker in such public-private partnerships, witness their efforts in Newark, NJ. Sometimes it’s the journey that matters, not just the outcome.

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