On 30 March, the winning teams of Korea Imagine Cup 2012 were announced at the University of Incheon. The young Korean winners won an all-expenses paid trip to participate in the Australia Imagine Cup 2012 Finals, which will be held in Sydney. Hosted by Microsoft, Imagine Cup is an annual competition that has seen more than 358,000 competitors representing 183 countries since 2003.
The theme for this year’s competition was: ‘Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.’ In total, 82 competitors from 19 teams participated in the Korea Imagine Cup 2012. The event was attended by several professors, judges, Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) volunteers, students and guests from the industry, government and non-government sectors.
“The Imagine Cup aims to foster creativity in students and it encourages students to give it their all. By coming up with their own ideas and technologies at a young age, these students can get a head start,” commented Lutz Ziob, General Manager, Microsoft Germany and Andrew Parsons, Academic Initiative Lead, Microsoft Australia. They were present at the event to host a media roundtable.
The winning team for software design came up with an application named “Let IT Bee”, which is designed to support bee farmers and local businesses. They developed a bee hive monitoring system that records treatments, feeding, inspections, honey harvests and tracks colony temperament. With this application, users are able to diagnose the heath conditions of their bees and manage bee yards more efficiently. Beginner beekeepers can also benefit from the training materials provided by the application.
“We want to help save the honey bees from extinction by cultivating an interest in beekeeping. Imagine Cup is the best platform to showcase our ideas and highlight this problem to the public,” said the members of the ‘Let IT Bee’ team.
In a separate category of the competition, team ‘Noriter’ won with an innovative application that enables parents to protect their child by staying connected to the child at all times.
Through this event, Microsoft Korea hopes to show how information technology can help solve practical issues that people face.
A group of 63 Microsoft New Zealand employees and contractors recently volunteered in the inaugural Carbon4Good 100 Tonne Challenge, an event organized by the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) to celebrate World Environment Day on 5 June.
The Challenge is part of the SBN’s Carbon4Good program aimed at offsetting carbon emissions by planting native New Zealand trees. The Carbon4Good program has been running in conjunction with SBN’s GreenFleet Program since 2001, and has planted around 130,000 trees.
Designed to make it easy for businesses to celebrate World Environment Day in a meaningful and tangible way, the original target of the Carbon4Good 100 Tonne Challenge was to plant 667 trees in order to offset 100 tons of carbon dioxide.
With the combined efforts of 135 volunteers from Microsoft, Fulton Hogan and Vodafone, a total of 4,800 trees were planted — far surpassing the expectations that were set before the event. The tree planting activities took place on some of the most inspiring native tree restoration sites across New Zealand.
The SBN represents more than 550 organizations in New Zealand, and is focused on promoting sustainable business practices through networking, practical advice as well as resource and tool development. Mark Roberts, Program Manager at SBN, was greatly impressed by the fact that the volunteers have already managed to far exceedtheir original target in only the first staging of the Challenge.
Expressing his gratitude for the joint efforts of the volunteers, Mr Roberts said, “We’re delighted that 4,800 trees were planted across four sites in Auckland and Wellington. Some great businesses got behind this initiative and really made it fly. A big round of applause to Microsoft, Fulton Hogan and Vodafone, who provided a combined 135 staff members the opportunity to get involved.”
Given the resounding success of the 2012 Challenge, SBN is looking to raise the stakes next year and see how the individual actions, such as those taken by the people involved in this year’s tree planting, can become a collective force for positive change in 2013.
Duncan Reid, Enterprise Strategy Practice Lead, Microsoft New Zealand, said, “It felt really great to have the opportunity to play our part in addressing the environmental issues we face. We are pleased with what we have been able to achieve this year, and we look forward to joining forces with SBN again next year.”
A group of 92 Microsoft Vietnam employees volunteered for a charity project on 10 August to help disadvantaged children at the Village of Hope centre, located in Danang City, Vietnam.
Operated by nonprofit organisation East Meets West (EMW), the Village of Hope provides care and lodging for orphaned, abandoned and hearing-impaired children. To date more than 450 children have lived in the Village of Hope, and benefitted from the public donations that have been raised to support this centre. EMW also aims to provide these disadvantaged children with access to education and job training opportunities in order to help them integrate successfully into society.
To engage in closer interaction with the 134 children at the Village of Hope, the Microsoft volunteers arranged and took part in various recreational activities such as puzzles, sand painting and drawing. The volunteers also helped the children to build their foundations in basic information technology (IT) skills by teaching them how to use the computer and Microsoft® Office software.
The volunteers also held several outdoor sporting activities such as basketball, football and cycling, while some helped to brighten up the environment at the Village of Hope centre by painting fences in yellow. The children were also given traffic safety lessons and taught how to cross the road safely as pedestrians.
“Not only have the Microsoft volunteers brought lots of joy and happiness to the children through these enjoyable activities, they also helped to improve their lives by raising this generous donation. We really appreciate the time and effort they have put in to help the children,” said Mr Phan Thanh Vinh from the Village of Hope.
Microsoft Australia has been collaborating with the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) over the past three years to provide mentorship to students who live in areas of lower socioeconomic conditions.
The partnership enables Microsoft employees to participate in a series of mentoring programmes offered by ABCN, with the main purpose of improving educational opportunities for students and schools that are most in need. Through the mentoring programmes, ABCN strives to address issues such as inadequate literacy skills and improving student retention.
More than 50 Microsoft Australia employees have chosen to make use of their three-day annual volunteer leave to actively engage in mentoring young students through three main ABCN programmes called “Spark”, “GOALS” and “Aspirations”.
Spark is a reading programme for primary school students who need help in improving their literacy, language skills and socialisation. Microsoft volunteers who are part of this programme visit selected schools on a regular basis to help the students improve their literacy skills.
In the GOALS programme, Microsoft volunteers hold individual and group sessions with students who are considered to be at risk of disengagement from education. The volunteers encourage these students to pursue higher education.
The Aspirations mentoring programme aims to equip students with the knowledge to make a smooth transition from their high school to higher education, or the practical skills that will help them succeed in the workplace. Microsoft has also collaborated with ABCN to organise a programme featuring some of Australia’s leading companies, to enable these students to explore their options and gain a better perspective of the career choices available to them.
Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia and a Council Member of the ABCN-Microsoft programs, is leading the initiative by mentoring a school principal.
"Acting as mentors, our volunteers are making a positive impact on the students both academically and socially. This sentiment is reciprocated as on more than one occasion, our employees have let me know that they often get as much out of the programmes as the students have. We will continue supporting ABCN to develop the potential of our future workforce and address the future skills shortage that may affect Australia's competitiveness," said Ms Marlow.
This blog was originally posted by Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft, on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog.
Today, we are releasing our annual Citizenship Report, which provides an overview of our citizenship work over the past fiscal year, from July 2011 to June 2012. This is the third year in a row that we have released the Citizenship Report at the same time as our annual financial report. Together, these two milestones give our shareholders, customers, employees and many community partners a full view of Microsoft’s financial and non-financial performance across all business operations.
The Citizenship Report, in particular, outlines Microsoft’s citizenship goals, progress and next steps in our responsible work practices and service to communities as part of our company commitment to making a real impact for a better tomorrow everywhere we do business.
The full Citizenship Report can be found on the Microsoft Corporate Citizenship website and we encourage you to view it and send us your feedback. Here are a few highlights from the report:
· We gave more than $900 million in cash and software to more than 62,200 nonprofits worldwide this fiscal year. Our employees contributed nearly $100 million of this total as part of the employee giving and company match program.
· We consulted with businesses, government and other key stakeholders to develop a human rights statement that brings together long-standing policies on privacy, security, free expression and labor rights. The statement aligns with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and establishes a common set of principles we infuse into our business practices.
· We made good progress in reducing our carbon footprint, exceeding our goal of cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent per unit of revenue compared with 2007 levels. This achievement was due in part to the 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of green power we purchased, the third most of any U.S. company.
· To help drive responsible business practices throughout our supply chain, we required 100 percent of our suppliers to abide by our revised Vendor Code of Conduct.
· To demonstrate the value we place on our employees, we made the company’s biggest investment ever in employee compensation.
In addition, this past fiscal year we made the decision to make youth the focal point of our philanthropy efforts and we announced this decision a few weeks ago with the launch of the global Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. As our CEO Steve Ballmer said, Microsoft YouthSpark represents “a big, bold bet” for Microsoft.
The Citizenship Report demonstrates how we have been laying the groundwork for this initiative over the past year through youth-focused programs and partnerships, such as connecting 600,000 students with one another through Skype in the Classroom and providing $1 million in Imagine Cup grants of cash, software and support to help student innovators launch their own businesses. Through Microsoft YouthSpark, we‘re embarking on an even more direct path to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential.
We are continually evolving our Citizenship reporting, and want to make sure we provide the best possible resource for our many stakeholders around the world. We welcome any feedback you may have on this year’s report, so please e-mail comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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