02:07 PM

New Nonprofit Organization Will Fund IT Education, Research Projects

The SIM Foundation will study and fund programs that address IT leadership development and the declining enrollment of students in tech fields.

The Society for Information Management this week launched a nonprofit organization that will fund research projects and programs aimed at developing leadership skills in IT professionals and attracting more young people into the tech field.

The SIM Foundation will study and fund programs that address issues such as IT leadership development and the declining enrollment of students in U.S. universities and colleges that are pursuing tech-related majors.

"Between the significant drop-off in IT enrollment and the baby boomer [retirement] situation, our whole industry and the business community at large could be in big trouble," says Dave Luce, chairman of the new philanthropic organization and CIO of commercial real-estate development company Rockefeller Group International.

While Luce says it will likely be about six to eight weeks before the foundation announces its first projects, possibilities include educational programs aimed at parents and high school guidance counselors to make them better aware of tech career possibilities for students getting ready to enter college.

"Many parents think all IT jobs are going offshore, and that's the furthest from the truth," Luce says. "There's a lot of misinformation out there." Other possibilities include scholarships or IT training for disadvantaged youth and programs to help IT professionals develop and enrich their leadership skills.

The foundation's programs could help tech leaders sleep better. Attracting, developing, and retaining talent is the second biggest IT management concern of CIOs in 2006, according to a new survey released this week by SIM. The study, which polled 137 CIOs, found that alignment of IT and business was the number-one biggest worry of tech leaders.

The SIM Foundation's nonprofit status will allow corporations and individuals to get tax breaks on their donations. Donations have been coming in nicely, Luce says, since SIM formally announced the foundation yesterday in Dallas during its annual SIMposium conference.

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