I have the privilege of chairing the Global Giving Council, the newly-formed executive team here at Dell charged with governing our giving practices. 2008 brought significant changes to Dell giving, as highlighted in our recently released corporate responsibility report. We established an aggressive giving goal, adopted a new strategy focused on making a global impact, and launched an innovative signature program that is already making a real difference in countries around the world.
Actively participating and giving back to the communities where we live and work have long been priorities at Dell. But when we committed to the aspirational goal to increase our giving to one percent of Dell’s pre-tax profits by 2010, things got serious. We promptly realigned our giving strategy to better reflect who we are as a company. We decided to focus Dell giving worldwide on youth in the areas of education, digital inclusion and sustainability – because we have seen first-hand the power of connecting children to the digital world and the importance of protecting our planet.
By year’s end we narrowed the global giving gap from .42 percent to .74 percent of pre-tax profits, increasing our giving to $24.5 million ($8 million more than the previous year) – an increase that tracks well with our long-term aspirational goal. In the U.S., our Dell Foundation continued its good work by awarding $2.5 million in Equipping Youth grants.
We also launched Dell YouthConnect, a digital inclusion initiative that promotes math, science, literacy and technology skills for youth in emerging countries. It began in India and has since expanded to Brazil and Mexico. We invested $2.7 million in cash and equipment in 2008 with plans in place to grow the program in the coming months. Our employees are fully engaged on the ground with our YouthConnect partners by helping to deploy and support the technology and volunteering and interacting with the children who participate.
Of course the heroes of our giving initiatives are, as always, our people. The Dell team continues to rally around charitable causes in record numbers. Dell employees gave $8.5 million to the charities of their choice during the annual charitable giving campaign. They also volunteered 28,000 hours to community causes during Global Community Involvement Month.
Dell Giving is serious business and, as our progress in 2008 indicates, we’re serious about it. Please share your ideas and feedback. We are eager to partner with our communities, customers and employees to make a real difference in the world we share.