MetLife Foundation Donates $25,000 to Kramden Institute

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MetLife Foundation Donates $25,000 to Kramden Institute

Funds will help refurbish computers for schools in low-income communities in North Carolina
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Summary

MetLife Foundation has a long history of supporting education initiatives. In addition, the Foundation is committed to engaging its employees in volunteer events that further the well-being of a community. On April 17, MetLife employee volunteers from MetLife’s Global and Technology Operations joined Kramden Institute members to announce a new initiative to empower students who do not have access to technology. MetLife Foundation presented $25,000 to the Kramden Institute to help further the mission of refurbishing computers for local schools and students in need.      

Article
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 10:30am

Original article on Cary Citizen
Upon accepting the check, Kramden founder Dibner  told an anecdote about his grandfather, who was so proud of the work he did helping people as he worked for 25 years with the same company. Dibner later concluded with the fact that the company his grandfather worked for was none other than MetLife, and how that idea had come full circle today.

Geoffery Lang, GM of the Raleigh site, spoke about the alignment of MetLife’s mission with the work that is going on at Kramden, a local non-profit that refurbishes donated used computers and awards them free of charge to deserving youth in our state.

Lang went on to say,  ”Technology is what drives our business. Kramden makes computers a reality, and MetLife is proud to be a part of the work that Mark Dibner started with his son in 2003 in a pilot program.  The use of technology to better folks’ lives is something that’s very important at  MetLife.”

The new Cary MetLife location, currently under construction on Weston Parkway, will one day house 2200 employees working on technology to be used globally. Most MetLife Cary jobs will be in information technology and engineering, and the average salary on the campus will top $100,000.

The company has already hired 400 people, who are working in two temporary locations (called incubator 1 &2)  in Raleigh and Durham, while the Cary site is being built. MetLife’s first building should be ready by February 2015 followed by the second building in April. Their site plans include a possible expansion with a third building.

Passionate Employee Led to Donation
The MetLife Foundation first heard about Kramden from one of their own employees, Don Rowe, who has volunteered regularly for five years at the Institute. Aowe has even recruited a whole Met Life “army” who volunteer to rebuild computers. He reached out to the MetLife Foundation.

“The MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to make a difference in people’s lives”,  according to Jim O’Donnell, Senior Vice President. The Foundation has a goal to donate $200 million over the next five years globally to the communities in which they are located. They have plans to continue their involvement in Kramden, and that day began talking about how they could help some of the disadvantaged youth have access to affordable internet, yet another issue with technology for under-served communities.

Hugging Computers
Angela Caraway, Founder of The Caraway Foundation, partners with Kramden Institute to connect kids in Anson County to computers. The small population in Anson has one of the highest rates of poverty in North Carolina.

“Its amazing to watch kids come in to the room full of computers with bows on them. And they hug it, as you tell them it will be theirs forever. Then you see the parents with tears in their eyes, saying if it wasn’t for the Caraway Foundation they couldn’t have this” . The foundation’s goal is to make sure that the entire county has the chance to excel.

Kramden – Bridging the Digital Divide
“Kramden helps bridge the digital divide for these students” said Geoffrey Lang as he presented the check. That phrase “Digital Divide” was repeated many times during the morning to describe the gap between folks who have computers at home and those that don’t have that access.

Kramden Institute is the only organization (that we know of)  in the nation making computers available at no cost to disadvantaged people. They not only give the kids (aged 6-18) computers, but train them how to use them safely. Every computer comes pre-installed with open-source operating system called Ubermix, which are pre-loaded with 60 free programs. Everyone is trained on how to access the software and use the programs, and can even download more free software.

It Takes an Army
Kramden has grown exponentially since CaryCitizen first wrote about them 2 years ago. Since that time, over 7,000 volunteers have helped refurbish and deliver 16,000 computers to people in this state who wouldn’t have access to computers without them.

You can find them every Wednesday at Kramden to cleaning, refurbishing and installing software on literally hundreds of used machines.

Interested in helping?  visit their website for more info.

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Original article on Triangle Busniess Journal
When a major organization like MetLife with an active charity grant foundation moves into a new community, it isn’t just bringing new jobs - it’s also bringing its pocketbook.

Since hiring its first employee for its new global technology and operations hub in the Triangle last summer, MetLife has been canvasing the market and taking suggestions from its newest employees about which local charity organizations it should support.

On Thursday, MetLife presented a $25,000 check to the Kramden Institute in Durham, a charity that provides refurbished computers to students who don’t have access to a computer at home.

That money will, in turn, be used to fund a “geek-a-thon” next fall at MetLife’s building in Durham where dozens of MetLife employees will be able to volunteer their time to help rebuild computers that Kramden has received as donations.

Kramden’s executive director, Michael Abensour, says the organization gave away 3,300 computers to elementary, middle school and high school students across the state.

“For this Geek-A-Thon, we’ll be taking our whole refurbishing process and moving it offsite to their cafeteria where their employees will be able to work on the computers,” he says. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Geoff Lang, MetLife’s general manager for its Triangle campus and the first MetLife employee hired for the GTO hub last summer, says they found out about Kramden Institute from a group of new MetLife employees who have been volunteering for the charity.

“They came to us and told us that this would be a good group to support,” Lang says. “Plus, it’s technology-based.”

MetLife has also so far contributed funds and volunteer services to local groups like the USO of North Carolina, Junior Achievement, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Society of St. Andrew’s food bank program, Lang says.

“Part of the reason for this move (to the Triangle) was to create a new culture, and we have found teams of people who want to do more, who want to give back.”

Lang and his new boss Jim O’Donnell were hesitant to give an estimate on how much money the MetLife Foundation plans to contribute to organizations surrounding is new operations in both the Triangle and in Charlotte, but O’Donnell did note that the foundation last year committed to giving $200 million over the next five years to support programs that provide tools for low-income communities.

“This project with Kramden is helping break down the digital divide,” O’Donnell says.

Contact

Nandika Madgavkar
+1 (212) 578-5707
MetLife