Celebrate Technology: Corporate Citizenship

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Community-minded Intel works at volunteering

Judy Cara said Intel’s corporate mission statement includes always being a “great place to work.”

Apparently part of being a great place to work includes employing the sort of people who volunteer in the community.

“Volunteers have made a huge difference in some of the projects they have undertaken. Employees will go out to the food bank, and recently they built a house with Habitat for Humanity,” said Cara, spokeswoman for Intel, the world’s largest chip maker. “Although we work very hard in their jobs, they have this opportunity to go out and make a difference in the community.”

Celebrate Technology 2004 has deemed Intel Corp. the winner of the Corporate Citizenship Award, given to Colorado technology companies who have a proven record of contributing to the community.

Intel is a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. “One of our values is to be an asset to our communities at all times,” Cara said. “When I discovered that we were in the running for this award, I was thrilled. One of my job responsibilities is to put that value into action. I’m excited Intel is being recognized for what we do in the community.”

One of Intel’s most tangible contributions to the local community is in the form of an after-school clubhouse, called the Intel Computer Clubhouse. Housed in the Southeast Family YMCA, the clubhouse is a place where children can go after school to learn to use a computer.

Aided by very sophisticated hardware and software, the kids can learn to make videos and record music.

Cara said the clubhouses are placed in areas of the city that have the highest percentage of latchkey kids, for example, or have schoolchildren who are at the highest risk for illegal drug use or participation in gangs.

“One African-American boy, whose name was Tori, was having trouble in school. His grade point average was one-point-something,” Cara said. Tori is a student in the Harrison School District, which surrounds the clubhouse. “In the clubhouse he has absolutely excelled. His GPA has gone up, along with his self-esteem and problem-solving skills.”

In addition to the clubhouse on the southeastern side of town, Intel has one in Alamosa, in the southern part of the state, housed in a Boys & Girls Club facility.

Most recently, Cara had the idea to put another clubhouse in Aurora, where more schoolchildren are at risk for gang and drug violence. That one will open Nov. 3. In addition to handling media relations and governmental/legislative affairs, Cara oversees the corporation’s local volunteer work.

As community relations manager, Cara’s responsibilities include K-12 education-with an emphasis on math and science-career opportunities for underrepresented populations and employee volunteerism. The cornerstone of Intel’s volunteer activity is the Intel Involved program, which encourages employees to be active in their community.

Intel Corp. opened in the Springs more than four years ago, and Cara, who has lived and worked in public affairs in the city since 1987, was one of the first local hires in June 2000. “The manager at the time decided it was more important to have someone who already knew the community, and could learn about Intel as [she] went along,” Cara said. “We were moving very quickly in the corporate citizenship area. It would’ve been hard to get someone up to speed about nonprofits, and on the cast of characters in the community.”

Intel employs 900 people in Colorado Springs, and a recent expansion will add several hundred jobs between now and 2008.

Math and science education for at-risk youth seems to be Intel’s favorite charitable contribution. Cara said one of the best things about her job is connecting different people in the community who have the same goals. “I’ll talk to educators and school districts, and put them in touch with each other, possibly with an Intel grant. I don’t think my job would have the same synergy if I hadn’t put those people in touch.”

Cara has been married for six years to Jim, and is stepmother to Kelsey, 15, and Kimmie, 12. After leaving a position with the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in her native England in 1979, Cara lived in Nebraska for seven years before arriving in the Pikes Peak area. She was government and public affairs manager for Colorado Interstate Gas, a subsidiary of the Coastal Corp. Recently, she had the opportunity to meet with a “mishmash” of people about math and science education for youth in Colorado Springs.

“There were people from the Urban League and the Girl Scouts, a couple of school districts, universities and colleges,” said Cara. “There was so much energy in that room. Lots of great things came out of just that one meeting, and that’s very exciting.”