The men and women who work at the 2008 Assembly Plant of the Year in Poughkeepsie, NY, are proud of their local community. For instance, more than 2,500 IBMers in the mid-Hudson Valley region have volunteered more than 260,000 hours to help out schools and not-for-profits through the company’s On Demand Community efforts. Poughkeepsie employees made up more than half of those volunteers, and contributed more than 146,000 hours of community service in 2007.

IBM’s outreach effort in February through May 2007, including support of the national engineers’ week initiative, involved more than 625 volunteers. They visited more than 32,000 students in the Hudson Valley.

Each year since 2000, more than 150 employees have mentored students who have participated in IBM’s technology camps, such as DESTINY (Developing Exciting Science and Technology Interests in Youth). The outreach program encourages young kids to consider careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math.

A program called KidSmart, which was launched 10 years ago, has been very successful in the Hudson Valley. The program is geared toward helping pre-K students gain access to technology and educational software. IBM launched the program to address the “digital divide” by assisting young children who do not have access to technology so that they are better prepared when entering grade school.

Since 2000, IBM employees from Poughkeepsie and nearby East Fishkill-site of Big Blue’s chip-making operation-have participated in a technology camp for young girls. More that 500 middle school girls have attended the one-week summer camp.

The intent of the camp is to influence more girls toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. In 2008, IBM Poughkeepsie hosted the first camp for boys. Thirty minority students from two local school districts attended the one-week camp.

In addition, IBM Poughkeepsie launched a pilot program in 2001 called MUST (Men Understanding Science and Technology). Employees mentored 25 minority boys who were in 7th grade. The intent of the program was to work with the kids and follow them through high school. The program ended this past school year, with 10 boys completing the program (of the other 15 kids originally in the program, most left the area). Six of the kids who graduated high school ended up going on to college.

All of the kids participating in the programs above also received mentoring from MentorPlace. This program matches an IBM professional with a student to help them stay focused on math and science through an interactive online tool and face-to-face opportunities.