A Billion + Change has changed our lives. Garden State Woman's experience at the White House has left us inspired and more motivated than ever to grow the services of our Education Foundation. We joined more than 170 leaders in industry, policy and civic engagement that convened at A Billion + Change's national forum in Washington, D.C. to discuss the power of corporate skills-based volunteerism to meet the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Leaders at the Forum agreed that public-private partnerships, especially those based on harnessing the skills and talents of the private sector in volunteer service, play a critical role in our nation's path to prosperity.
Every day, A Billion + Change pledge companies harness the skills and talents of their people to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations that create empowering opportunities for women and veterans, strengthen our schools and workforce, improve STEM education and tackle global development challenges. Whether it's sitting on a nonprofit board, mentoring at-risk students or lending IT, marketing, financial or strategic consulting services, pledge companies are redefining what it means to give back to communities through skills-based service.
Deloitte, a founding member of the A Billion + Change Leadership Committee, recently announced that its commitment to pro bono services would rise to $110 million by 2015. It has contributed 350 pro bono engagements over the past four years and is now poised to do even more.
IBM is helping cities and communities around the world, from Nairobi and Singapore to Washington, D.C., by leveraging the skills of IBM volunteers to assist with social challenges, including economic development, education and transportation issues. IBM volunteers have provided more than 3.2 million hours of service in more than 5,000 skills-based projects in 2011 alone.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, meanwhile, is helping to address the school drop-out crisis by engaging and inspiring at-risk middle school students through its "Succeed Through Service" program. The curriculum includes chefs teaching students about healthy eating habits; concierge employees coaching students on the importance of social skills; restaurant employees demonstrating how to correctly use cutlery; and trainers teaching effective collaboration and group presentation skills.
This commitment to skills-based service comes at a critical time of significant need in America's communities, and of increasing demands on nonprofits. While funds for social programs at the federal, state and local levels have dwindled, pro bono and skills-based volunteer programs offer nonprofits an opportunity to achieve more with scarce resources.
A list of pledge companies, and information about how to take the pledge, is available at www.abillionpluschange.org.
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