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United Way and IBM are working together to help build stronger communities where employees live and work, whether that’s through volunteering or charitable giving. We share a passion for preparing youth for success in college, work and life, and for ensuring veterans get the help they need. Together, we’re engaging employees in pro bono support and skill-based volunteerism – and helping them make a difference in the world.

IBM and United Way collaborated to create an innovative, proactive approach to help people deal with hurricanes and other disasters in Florida. During Hurricane Irma in 2017, 2-1-1 in many parts of Florida was inundated by public inquiries for storm-related information. United Way Worldwide requested assistance from IBM to alleviate the strain on 2-1-1 centers (many of which are operated by United Ways) during future disasters.  

Through a pro bono Impact Grant, IBM used Cognitive Automated Response Learning Agent (CARLA) technology to create a virtual agent, or “chatbot,” to augment 2-1-1 services in Florida. CARLA leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand what the user is asking. During a hurricane or other disaster, users can get information and resources (in English and Spanish) by accessing either www.211.org or local 2-1-1 websites. For the next two years, in the event of a disaster, IBM will provide hosting, solution configuration, and maintenance for CARLA. This is one example of how our partnership mobilizes individuals to strengthen communities.