Co-founder Julie Clugage: Welcome to Team4Tech!
Julie Clugage, Executive Director
Welcome to Team4Tech! I could not be more excited for the launch of this new community of tech professionals dedicated to improving education in developing countries. But “new” is not really the right word, because it is such a natural extension of the path that many of us have been on together for the past 20 years. I suspect that many of you reading this have been partners along the way, and I thank you for your inspiration and support.
For me, the journey started in 1992 when, recently out of college, I headed to rural Guatemala to work in a newly formed high school for Mayan students. The two years I spent there changed my life and showed me how much human potential is waiting to be unlocked with the right educational opportunities. I always remember one of the students in my 7th grade English class, Martin. In spite of a complete lack of books, curriculum or proven pedagogy (they were my first class so we were all learning as we went along!), he absorbed everything I was able to teach. He scored near perfect on every exam, with amazing recall and comprehension. He came from a family of subsistence farmers, like almost everyone else in the village, and had little hope of continuing on in his studies. Sadly, I lost touch with him after I left Guatemala and I often wonder how far he made it in his education before he was forced to drop out and help with the family finances. Fortunately there were other students that I was able to keep in touch with. I had the privilege of supporting two of them through their university studies, and one of them now works at one of the leading think tanks in Guatemala City.
After returning from Guatemala, I wanted to figure out the best way to make a larger scale impact in economic development. I got my graduate degree in public policy and went to work for a series of development institutions in Washington. I found the work fascinating and loved getting to know colleagues from around the world, but somehow I’m not sure that the 200+ page reports I was writing were making that much of a difference on the ground (I could be wrong, but I definitely never saw any of them on the best seller lists!).
So instead of writing about how the private sector could help advance development, I decided to join the private sector and try to do it myself. After one more graduate degree to facilitate the transition, I joined Intel Corporation in 2002 and have spent the last 10 years working to improve the quality of education with technology. My best experience was launching the Intel Education Service Corps and seeing the amazing impact my Intel colleagues had with the NGOs they came to serve (not to mention the life changing impact it also had on them!). These incredibly skilled professionals built custom servers, raised money from friends, family and coworkers, traveled back to countries like Haiti and Kenya on their vacation time, all to advance the quality of education delivered by dedicated NGOs working in developing countries. We now have an alumni base of over 200 Intel Education Service Corps volunteers who have supported over 40 projects in 16 countries, and most of them say it was the best experience they have had at Intel. They have remained engaged in the program, continuing to support the projects and serving as mentors for follow—on teams of new volunteers.
It is the emergence of this vibrant community of Intel Education Service Corps alumni that inspired me to join my former boss and friend, Lila Ibrahim, in launching Team4Tech. Our dream is to extend the model across the tech community, particularly to mid—stage tech companies who have not yet engaged in international cross— border volunteerism, and build an ever—growing community of change agents dedicated to expanding opportunities in developing countries. As our community grows, we will add more online discussion features to our site, allowing volunteers, alumni and their tech colleagues to share ideas and help the projects we are supporting achieve even greater impact. We will also enable our volunteers to crowd— source start— up funding for the NGOs looking to purchase technology, and create an offering of discounted ed tech solutions for NGOs to draw upon as their needs require.
Thank you again to all of you who have been with me on this journey — from my first students in Guatemala to the thoughtful development professionals who mentored me in Washington to the amazing Intel colleagues who inspired me with your innovation and dedication. I look forward to sharing the next phase with you!