P-Tech Rochester Students Help with IBM Smarter Cities Project

Friday, October 16, 2015 at 07:33 P

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- P-Tech Rochester student Alex Hernandez Rodriguez, 15, said he sees poverty around almost every corner of the city.

“I’m driving to the library and I see buildings being torn down,” Hernandez Rodriguez said. “People don’t do anything about it. That building could have been a restaurant to help the economy or it could have been another school.”

On Friday, a team of IBM’s top employees asked students like Hernandez Rodriguez to share what they believe contributes to this hardship and what they think could fix it.  This is all part of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative and IBM Smarter Cities Project. IBM selected Rochester as one of 116 cities worldwide to receive roughly $500,000 worth of its expertise to lift it out of poverty.  

“Young people bring a unique perspective and their voices in particular because they are close to the issues we are looking to address,” Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative Director Leonard Brock said.

The efforts reach far outside the walls of Edison Tech High School. Brock and the IBM team have traveled the city this week speaking with agency leaders, IT experts, and critical partners about what the city has tried to do before to combat poverty and where city leaders would like to go.

“Our job is to break that down, learn everything we can and then put together some reasonable and actionable items that we can report back to leadership,” IBM Corporate Citizenship Manager Martin Laird.

Among the many solutions students provided for the team members, including cleaning up the city and  teaching valuable life skills to those in poverty, Hernandez Rodriguez said he hopes to see them incorporate education components.

“There is a lot of opportunities, but it’s just people coming from where they come from, they don’t always see opportunities,” Hernandez Rodriguez said. “They see them as a scam or something else. For example, my school, I want to graduate and to show people what you can accomplish by going to my school.”

The IBM team will present all their solutions to the city at the end of the month.