Young people can do amazing things given the right opportunities and resources. They are constantly innovating and pushing the envelope with creative ideas to address a social need. They are challenging old ways of doing things and finding better ways to solve an old problem.
Increasingly, we’re seeing a growing opportunity divide between young people who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who lack the skills, education, experiences and connections to employment that are required to survive and thrive. Closing this divide is one of the most important actions we can alltake to secure the future for our youth, and as a result, the future of our global economy.
At a time when youth unemployment rates are at an all-time high, and with an estimated 600 million jobs that will need to be created over the next decade to make up for jobs lost in the recent economic crisis, creating jobs for young people has become one of the most urgent problems facing countries all over the world. So how can we help to close this opportunity divide?
To address these issues, Microsoft has created a company-wide initiative, Microsoft YouthSpark, which is designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over the next three years. We want to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.
One of the ways we are doing this is through Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark programme that enables young people to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities, and provides the tools and resources needed to bring their ideas to reality.
More than a year ago, six regional Innovate for Good events were held around the world for young people between the ages of 16 – 30 who were interested in the concepts of social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social good. They were offered a set of training opportunities and activities to help bring their ideas closer to reality.
This year, we’re taking this regional concept further and bringing local versions to more countries around the world so we can reach out to even more people: whether their interest is volunteering, working at a nonprofit or starting their own venture.
We kicked off Innovate for Good in Asia Pacific in Indonesia five weeks ago, and we are delighted to bring this programme to Thailand (19 – 20 April), Taiwan (April 20 – 21) and the Philippines (May 18 – 19) over the next five weeks, where hundreds more young people will participate in similar conversations that are taking place all over the world.
We’re very excited to meet these young people in the weeks to come and look forward to hearing what is on their minds, what keeps them up late at night, the interesting projects they are working on and the ideas they’ve been thinking about to see how we can help connect them with people and resources to further their aspirations.
For updates on Microsoft YouthSpark and Innovate for Good, follow us on:
Education professionals around the world are exploring the use of Skype™ as a platform to connect their classroom and share their learning experiences with teachers across the globe. Skype in the classroom is a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects through the use of Skype, to share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs.
To facilitate global collaboration, a group of teachers from a rural school in southern Sri Lanka joined a virtual classroom exchange programme via Skype in the classroom that will enable students from other parts of the world to experience the wonders of a tropical rain forest.
Located on the edge of a rain forest, Rambuka eVillage School organises frequent trips into the rain forest to allow students to learn and gain experiences beyond the classroom. During the expeditions, students have the opportunity to conduct experiments and explore the wide range of flora and fauna that the rain forest offers.
The teachers at Rambuka eVillage School initiated the “Visit a Rain Forest in Sri Lanka” Skype lesson to share their unique learning experiences, which are especially beneficial to those students situated in urban areas and cities.
“More teachers around the world are starting to leverage Skype technology to expose their students to new environments and provide a more interactive means of learning. These interactive learning sessions have a direct benefit for Rambuka eVillage School, too, as their students are given the opportunity to practice and improve their use of English when they converse during the Skype discussions,” said Andy Schmidt, Head of Social Good, Skype.
The “Visit a Rain Forest in Sri Lanka” Skype lesson was greeted with enthusiasm by teachers from around the world — more than 70 teachers have expressed their interest to participate since the interactive lessons went live in October 2012.
“Most of my students are city dwellers, aged between 11 and 15. The rain forest is something so different and unfamiliar from their usual environment, and they would be very interested to learn more about it,” commented Ana Luz, a teacher from Argentina.
Special thanks to Heather Mansfield, principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0. For the full list of 11 nonprofits from her original post, please go here.
When nonprofits launch, or consider launching, a smartphone app, most would first create an iPhone or Android app. While launching a third version of a smartphone app is rare, the release of Windows 8 in October 2012 for computers, tablets and Windows Phone, adding a third option to a nonprofit's suite of apps is becoming more common.
Here are a few examples of nonprofits pioneering apps for Windows Phone, placing them in a stellar position to reap the benefits of early adoption.
1. United Nations News App
2. Oxfam App
3. National Geographic Society App
Want to create an app for your nonprofit? Now's the time to take your great ideas and start creating apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT. The Windows Dev Center has all of the resources you need to create a Windows app and submit it to the Windows Store. You can download all of the necessary tools and software development kits (SDKs), view sample codes on how to plan and build great apps.
A visually compelling, square avatar is the basis upon which all successful social media campaigns are built.
Many nonprofits, however, do not have the financial resources to hire an avatar designer, nor do they realize the importance of a well-designed avatar. They simply upload their logo to social networking sites, which in many cases is a poor substitute for a specially created avatar.
Logos are primarily designed with a horizontal orientation, whereas avatars need to be square. When horizontal logos are uploaded to social networking sites they either get cropped to the point of illegibility or are shrunk to a size too small to read, reducing their visual impact.
Recognizing the need for better designed avatars in the nonprofit sector, Microsoft recently teamed up with Tyson Cabral, an Imagine Cup student participant from New Zealand, to help create free avatars for numerous nonprofits in Asia Pacific.
Below is a small selection:
Helping create visually compelling avatars is only one of many examples of Microsoft Citizenship’s commitment and activities in support of nonprofits around the world.
For more information on our capacity building work, follow us on Twitter at @MSFTctzAPAC, ‘like’ us on Facebook or visit our Asia Pacific Citizenship Blog.
Through Microsoft YouthSpark, Microsoft Philippines is partnering with Filipino youth in honing their talents and skills to maximize their full potential. Today, Microsoft brought its Senior Director for Citizenship & Public Affairs Akhtar Badshah to the country to speak with some of the inspiring young citizens who endeavor to make a difference in the community.
Administering the company’s global community investment and employee programs, Badshah met five young leaders to discuss and explore possibilities on how the combination of their advocacy and Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme can further drive youth empowerment in the country. These young change makers who joined the roundtable dialogue included Marc Ruiz, Co-Founder and President of Microventures; Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, Founder and President of Rags2Riches; Miguel Bermundo, Founder and Director of Dream Big Pilipinas FA; Noreen Bautista, Co-Founder, Ecolgenuity; and JQ Quesada, Manager, Ayala Youth Development Unit.
Noting the young people’s current challenges and Microsoft’s role, Badshah said, “Young people today are faced with daunting challenges such as a lack of accessible education and decent jobs that hinder them in reaching their potential and changing their lives for the better. The opportunity divide between those who have resources to succeed and those who do not is expanding. To address these issues Microsoft, together with the community, is working to increase access to education, employment and entrepreneurship to help young people realize their full potential.”
Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme is part of the company’s sustainable efforts in bringing education, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for the youth worldwide. Under YouthSpark, several initiatives such as WOWZAPP and Imagine Cup were developed to equip young citizens in harnessing their creativity to better their lives.
WOWZAPP gives students the chance to access the best tools and resources they need to develop apps for the Windows Store and make money through it. Imagine Cup is an opportunity wherein the finalist gets the chance to fly and present his/her technological solution to St Petersburg, Russia, this year.
The young Filipino change makers underscored the valuable role of strategic partnerships in empowering the youth and communities.
"As young change makers of today, we believe that development is best achieved through partnerships between non-government organizations and the private sector. To work with Microsoft Philippines is one efficient way of helping pave the road for youth empowerment in the country. Youth leaders’ ideas for social progress can bebrought to life to turn lives around for the better,” said Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, Founder and President of Rags2Riches.
Badshah also expounded on another YouthSpark programme called Innovate for Good, which is a series of events aimed at helping youth around the world take their innovative concepts and turn them into viable social ventures. Participants will receive training, mentoring and access to Microsoft technologies to guide them in developing their platform. Innovate for Good will be hosted by Microsoft Philippines in partnership with Gawad Kalinga 27-28 April in Manila.
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