February, 2013

  • Leading Global Humanitarian Society Selects Cloud, Enhances Capacity and Response

    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has selected Microsoft Office 365 to be the standard communications and collaboration platform for its National Societies worldwide. This partnership with Microsoft will serve over a million volunteers and staff worldwide. In Asia this includes the organisation’s 37 national societies, four IFRC secretariat regional offices and 15 country offices.

    As the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, the IFRC provides disaster relief and support programmes to vulnerable communities around the world. This modernisation of its IT infrastructure will enable the organization to cost effectively and efficiently connect a mobile workforce and ultimately help to better deliver resources and save lives.

    In Asia, it is already being used in Bangladesh to assist volunteers in the food bank to deliver vital supplies to hungry families more efficiently.

    Since 2004, the IFRC has provided assistance to 198 million beneficiaries in Asia Pacific, a region that has experienced two and a half times more disasters than all the other regions of the world combined. With a move to Microsoft cloud technology, IFRC will address its digital divide among regional offices to better serve a changing population.

    Through this renewed and expanded partnership with Microsoft, the IFRC is aiming to help these National Societies grow stronger by more strategically using technology advances such as cloud services, while making the best use of the resources and investments made by donors. Already two of the estimated 80 early-qualifying National Societies — in Bangladesh and Namibia — have deployed Office 365, and many more are expected to follow close behind.

    “The success we saw from real-world use of Office 365 in our American and Danish Red Cross Societies helped pave the way to this broader adoption,” said Edward Happ, Global Chief Information Officer, IFRC. “And now, for the first time in our history, all of our National Societies will have the ability to free up IT spending and time to focus more of their resources on the activities that are ultimately saving lives.”

    Prior to signing the agreement for Office 365, the IFRC was actively seeking a solution to address its internal digital divide and provide smaller National Societies with access to the same tools, same technologies and same modern processes that the larger National Societies have. Based on its fundamental principle of universality, providing equal access to entirely new ways of working regardless of location ensures the National Societies become more efficient, participate more fully in the work of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, work more closely with their partners in the broader organization, and are better able to reach out to the vulnerable communities
    they serve.

    “Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help create a secure framework for improved access to technology without compromising on capabilities or effectiveness,” said Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. “I am proud that our collaboration with the IFRC will generate new opportunities to achieve their goals and deliver real impact for millions of beneficiaries around the world.”

    Now, with the support of Microsoft’s reliable cloud computing technologies and robust security features, the IFRC will be able to provide all stakeholders with a world-class technology platform no matter where they are, and improve the process of delivering new programmes directly to recipients.

    For more information on this announcement and to view a related video go to the Microsoft News Center.

    More information about how organizations are turning to Microsoft technology is available on the Microsoft Customer Spotlight newsroom.

  • Supporting Mobile Schools through Software Donation

    Through its global software donation programme, Microsoft is supporting the Mobile School project implemented by the Dariu Foundation in Vietnam.

    The Swiss private foundation aims to provide computer skills training for underprivileged children in rural communities with the launch of its Mobile School project. Each training course lasts for a period of three months, and will train students in the use of Windows® and Microsoft® Office software, as well as other basic computer and Internet access skills.

    The Mobile School training courses, run by the Dariu Foundation, train students in the use of Microsoft software and other basic computer skills

    In 2012, Microsoft donated 50 key licenses of Window 7 and Office 2010 worth US$50,000 to the Dariu Foundation for the installation of laptops at the Mobile Schools. To date, Dariu Foundation has four mobile schools, capable of training a total of 4,000 students a year. Each of the mobile schools will be relocated to a new area once the students complete the course. The project scope will be further expanded in 2013, raising the annual training capacity to 6,000 students by 2014.

    “At Microsoft, we are committed to making technology more accessible to nonprofit organisations, enabling them to better help the local communities they serve. We recognise the work of the Dariu Foundation in improving education opportunities for young people in the rural areas of Vietnam, and we are honoured to support their efforts by donating software to support the Mobile Schools project,” said Vu Minh Tri, Country Manager, Microsoft Vietnam.  

    Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thuy, from Vinh Long province, is one of the youth who benefited from the training provided at the Mobile Schools.

    Ms Thuy has long aspired to become a computer technician, but she was not able to afford the expenses of a computer training course. To pursue her dreams, Ms Thuy decided to enrol herself at the Mobile School in her village. Ms Thuy completed the course in August 2012, and was also awarded by the Dariu Foundation for being one of the top students in her cohort.  

    “Before enrolling in the Mobile School course, I would never have imagined how useful computers could be. I have managed to pick up practical computer skills, and I look forward to learning more in the advanced course next year, when the Mobile School returns to my village,” Ms Thuy said.


  • MS Korea Delivers Technology and Education Support for Refugee Youth

    Microsoft Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 13 November with the South Korean Ministry of Unification and the North Korean Refugee Foundation to provide information technology (IT) education and training support for youth defectors from North Korea.

    During the ceremony, Mr Shank said that Microsoft remains committed to bridging the opportunity divide in South Korea

    The new YouthSpark initiative was launched during the MOU signing ceremony and was attended by Craig Shank, Microsoft Vice President for International Government Affairs; Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea; South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik; and North Korean Refugees Foundation President Kim Il-joo. During the ceremony, Mr Shank explained that this programme is part of the YouthSpark activities initiated by Microsoft to bridge the opportunity divide in South Korea. 

    Under the collaboration, Microsoft Korea will provide basic computer skills training and software, such as Windows® and Office 365TM, over the next three years to seven schools that are specially established for North Korean youth. Computers, printers and other IT equipment donated by Microsoft to the schools will be managed and distributed by the North Korean Refugees Foundation.

    Minister Yu said that North Korean youth with refugee backgrounds often face considerable difficulties in adapting to a new society, and Microsoft’s funding and support will help the young people keep up with the latest advances in IT technology.

    The MOU ceremony was attended by (back row, left to right) Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea; Craig Shank, Microsoft Vice President for International Government Affairs; Yu Woo-ik, South Korean Unification Minister; and Kim Il-joo, President of the North Korean Refugees Foundation

    “Microsoft is committed to aiding North Korean refugee youth to overcome the opportunity gaps they may face in terms of education and employment. Through this programme, we aim to support their endeavours and help them develop adequate work skills — and to ultimately assimilate faster into their new living environment,” added Ms Park.

    “Microsoft is committed to helping North Korean refugee youth to overcome the opportunity gaps they may face in terms of education and employment.”

    - Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea

  • 12 Days of Giving with Microsoft Asia Pacific HQ

    Over the course of 12 days in December, Singapore-based employees were invited to join a senior leader to volunteer a morning or afternoon at a local charity. Take a look at how Microsoft employees took time to give back by engaging with the local community – and had a lot of fun in the process!

    Jessica Tan and 18 EPG employees joined together for a day of painting the girls’ dormitory at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled. A large, previously white space is now a colorful green, and the employees all agreed that peers painting side by side for a very good cause was a wonderful experience.              

    The M&O team also spent a day of painting at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, this time one floor down at the boys’ dormitory. Todd Cione and 13 other employees brightened up the boys’ domain into a cheery blue. The team was so inspired to stay connected with the home that they later collected hygiene packs and other necessities for the boys.

    In the true spirit of giving, the LCA team, led by Jeff Bullwinkel, treated the patients of the historic Kwong Wai Shiu Nursing Home for the Elderly to a scrumptious Christmas high tea party and festive gifts. From a fun filled magic show and their all-time favorite game, Bingo, to a ‘rock till you drop’ rendition of Christmas carols, the LCA team joyfully spread the good tidings of Christmas.

    David Vander and nine employees from his team led arts and crafts sessions at the Canossaville Home for Children. Twenty-two children played Christmas carol charades, decorated Christmas ornaments and enjoyed afternoon tea and donuts with the team.

    Microsoft employees from APOC, AHQ and the Singapore sub joined forces to volunteer at Food from the Heart. Over the course of two afternoons, employees packed 170 food parcels, bundled 15KG bags of rice for 70 needy families, and wrapped over 100 birthday gifts for kids from local welfare homes who get to celebrate their birthdays at monthly parties hosted by FFTH. Some employees were so inspired by the amazing work and passion of the staff and volunteers that they plan to help out at FFTH on a regular basis.

    Andy Pickup and eight members of the PR team spent an afternoon at the Society for the Physically Disabled. Everyone enjoyed playing Bingo and Scrabble, singing karaoke and dancing with our very festive Microsoft employees. The team shared a special Christmas lunch, which was a big hit with all the participants.

    Rob van der Ende and the Services, MTC and Xbox teams welcomed youth from the Children-At-Risk Empowerment Association (CARE) to the Microsoft offices for an afternoon of technology fun. CARE students and staff went on a tour of the Microsoft Technology Center and enjoyed a Kinect demo and challenge. This was followed by prizes and afternoon tea with employees. Students left our office with both inspiration and Microsoft memorabilia, just in time to enjoy the holidays.   

    APOC also made Christmas dreams come true by purchasing Christmas gifts for 51 children from low-income families. The team worked with Sun Love Home to provide ‘wish-list’ items, many of which included staples like school shoes and bags. Senior Programme Manager and donor June Foo said, “It feels good playing Santa Claus and bringing smiles to children’s faces. Involving my nieces and nephew in the shopping helps them understand the concept of giving back to the community,
    too. I love the Christmas Wish List Initiative!”

  • Innovative Schools Forum to Encourage the Use of Technology in the Classroom

    The Microsoft New Zealand Education team kicked off the inaugural Innovative Schools Forum on 30-31 August, as part of the Partners in Learning programme. 

    The staging of the first ever Innovative Schools Forum is part of the Partners in Learning programme in New Zealand

    The event was attended by more than 100 primary and secondary school educators, who gathered at the Botany Downs Secondary College to discuss and collaborate on the best ways to use information and communications technology (ICT) within the classroom.

    The two-day Forum was recently elevated to Mentor School status in Microsoft’s Worldwide Innovative Schools programme — the highest level of achievement that recognises the resourceful ways in which technology is used to engage students and the educational community.

    Focused on up-skilling, inspiring and resourcing participants, the Innovative Schools successfully brought together many different New Zealand schools together. Botany Downs Principal Michael Leach and Associate Principal Karen Brinsden helped to craft and deliver the workshop content, as well as facilitate collaboration between the attendees with a shared Microsoft OneNote® set of resources.

    Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network aims to facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators who are connected online and are sharing new ideas that help students learn.

    “Participants at the Innovative Schools Forum were overwhelmingly positive about our first-time staging of this event, which provided them with tangible ideas to kick-start ICT use in the classroom,” said Evan Blackman, Microsoft New Zealand Education Lead. “We would like to thank Botany Downs Secondary College and IT Partner New Era IT for helping to pull this event together, and we look forward to building on the success of the inaugural Forum.”

    “Participants at the Innovative Schools Forum were provided with tangibleideas to kick-start ICT use in the classroom.”

    - Evan Blackman, Microsoft New Zealand Education Lead

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