RESEARCH TRIANGLE–Both IBM and Red Hat are teaming with the nonprofit organization DonorChooseNC to help provide learning resources to teachers and students as part of National Volunteer Week.

DonorChooseNC says Red Hat (Nasdaq:RHAT) has launched a employee contribution plan that allows workers to decide which projects money deducted from their pay supports.

The DonorsChoose employee contribution program is the first of its kind for Red Hat. DonorsChoose says its application is built on Red Hat’s Linux operating system. But its contribution plan appealed to the company because 100 percent of each donation goes to fund a specific project the employee chooses, says DonorsChoose.

The funds may go to purchase books and supplies or fund field trips.

“The parallels between the philanthropy model of DonorsChooseNC and the business model defined by Red Hat are remarkable,” says Michael Tiemann, vice president of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat. “In both cases an individual can report a need to a community, and in both cases an individual from the community can provide a response to the individual request and for the benefit of the community as a whole.”

Tiemann adds, “I think it is wonderful to see a model we have made successful in our business applied to educational philanthropy, and I have already begun funding projects through DonorsChooseNC.”

Screening program
Employees also have the opportunity to volunteer as screeners, to assist DonorsChoose with the teacher proposal review process. These volunteers fulfill three steps by confirming teacher materials; screening proposals for content and verifying titles; and categorizing proposals by grade level and content area.

Employees can donate approximately one hour per week to screen ten proposals per month, after participating in a short training session. Nine Red Hat employees have already volunteered to serve as screeners.

IBM Involved

As part of the IBM On Demand Community program employees have volunteered as screeners for DonorsChooseNC.

One IBM volunteer, Alan Packett, Advisory Software Engineer, Software Group, has screened more than 65 proposals over a six-week period.

“It is gratifying to know that with just a few hours of my time, I can make a difference in the lives of teachers and the quality instruction that they provide for our students here in NC,” says Packett. “IBM’s On Demand Community internal Web site helped me identify this opportunity and helps me track my hours so I can qualify for a technology grant, such as a ThinkPad, which could also be donated to my non-profit to further support their goals.”

Dave Benevides, regional director, IBM Corporate Community Relations says IBM has supported various educational efforts for a decade. “With programs like Reinventing Education and KidSmart, K-12 education and educational reform have been the main focus of IBM’s philanthropy for over a decade,” he says.

“Through a series of Educational Summits put on nationally by IBM, we have encouraged other businesses to support education and many are listening. DonorsChooseNC fills a crucial need in our community by connecting teachers’ needs with the resources that businesses have to give,” he says.

Originally launched in New York in 2001, DonorsChoose allows teachers to submit proposals for any resource that would enhance their students’ learning.

Proposals may include requests for books, art supplies, scientific equipment, computers or a variety of other materials. Individuals around the state and even the world can then review those proposals and choose to fund the ones they find most compelling.

The New York Times has profiled DonorsChoose as “the future of philanthropy” and Oprah Winfrey recently hailed the organization as “a revolutionary charity.”