What if building a home was as easy as connecting a series of cubes, a fast and relatively inexpensive process that didn't require any specialized skills or training? Three and a half years ago, this "crazy idea" came to Malaysian entrepreneur John-Son Oei, who at age 22 decided to act upon his dream to help the underprivileged indigenous people of his country.
Read more about young people like John-son and Microsoft YouthSpark programmes.
This article was originally published on 23 September by Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs, on Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship Blog.
The economic and societal challenges facing youth around the world loom larger than ever with the youth unemployment rate expected to click upward to 12.8 percent by 2018 as forecasted by the International Labour Organization’s report, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013.
Yet, the world’s youth are undaunted by these challenges. Instead, they’re fired up, taking action and leading the charge to build better lives for themselves and others around them. We’re inspired by today’s youth and proud to stand alongside them, ready to help every step along the way. And, we’re not alone. Government leaders, nonprofit organizations and companies large and small are working together to empower youth to change their world and build a better future for all.
Throughout the past year, as the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative has taken shape around the globe and we’ve worked closely with a large number of nonprofits – ranging from the International Youth Foundation to the African Center for Women and ICT and the China Foundation for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, to name just a few, we’ve spotted three key trends that underscore our commitment to closing the opportunity divide for youth.
Youth are leading the charge in building the future. Today’s generation of young people know better than anyone the challenges they face and are using their voices to advocate for change. To help us stay close to the most pressing issues affecting youth in all regions of the world, we are convening an international group of YouthSpark Advisors to guide the ongoing development of our YouthSpark programmes over the course of the next two years, beginning with an inaugural meeting this week at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. Among these advisors is John-son Oei of Malaysia, one of the early inspirations for our YouthSpark initiative.
Technology is now, more than ever, a great equalizer for 21st century jobs. Computer programming jobs are growing at two times the national average in the US, yet less than 2.4 percent of college students are graduating with a degree in computer science. And, of course, there are still many youth without the digital literacy skills that are required for employment in most workplaces around the world. In light of this continued mismatch between skills and jobs, we are increasing our efforts to bring technology education to youth. We’re doubling our TEALS program in the US to reach a total 70 high schools in 12 states and we’re rolling out an enhanced digital literacy curriculum on the YouthSpark Hub. Our increased investment is driven by the opportunity to help more people like Jeremy Moore, one of the first students to learn computer programming through TEALS, and Muriel Surmely, a star student in our Web@cademie program in France.
It is becoming the priority of many governments around the world to promote entrepreneurship and small business creation in order to drive economic growth, and youth entrepreneurship is one key. We’re working with governments and nonprofits to provide young entrepreneurs with the technology, skills and connections to help them build businesses for themselves and create jobs for others. Ranjeet Kumar is just one example of a young entrepreneur, armed with tech skills, who is making a better life for himself and his community.
As we mark the one-year impact of Microsoft YouthSpark, we are ever-grateful for our collaboration with so many nonprofit organizations, companies and governments–across all sectors and geographies–to empower youth to enhance their lives and the livelihoods of others.
Change of this magnitude will take time, persistence and partnership, but we must press on, fueled by the inspiration of John-son, Jeremy, Muriel and Ranjeet, and the opportunities that stand before millions more just like them.
The future will not wait.
Over the last few years, Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific has been supporting Connecting Up's annual nonprofit technology conference. This year, we also caught up with two of this year’s keynote speakers in a short series of interviews at the Gold Coast in Australia.
In this second segment, Beth explains to us the benefits of becoming a networked nonprofit, challenges they face as well as tips to get there, many of which should be relevant and happening right now in nonprofits all round the world.
Stay tuned for the second half of the interview and visit Beth Kanter's blog to view more blog stories of her own.
Join us for this FREE webinar on Monday, 25 November 2013, at 12:00 PM (Singapore time).
Due to its popularity in May earlier this year, we are once again offering the webinar “What Nonprofit Executive Staff Need to Know About Social Media”.
The foundation of a successful online communications and fundraising campaign is built upon a well-designed, well-written website and e-newsletter, as well as a clear understanding of how social media have fundamentally changed how organizations engage and inspire supporters and donors.
The content of this webinar is specifically tailored for executive staff in the nonprofit sector, particularly those who may be skeptical or unclear of the value of social media. The webinar will:
• Demonstrate the value of social media to increase online fundraising and online brand recognition.
• Discuss how much time successful social media communications require, and consequently highlight the need to modify job descriptions of development and communications staff.
• Illuminate how social media success requires professional experience or training in online communications and fundraising.
• Put forward a minimal budget to be successful on the Social Web.
• Examine the need to create a social media policy.
• Present a system to track Return on Investment (ROI).
• Discuss the urgent need to prepare for the Mobile Web.
We look forward to having you join us for this FREE webinar on Monday, 25 November 2013, at 12:00 PM (Singapore time).
This webinar series is being delivered by Heather Mansfield, principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech for Good, as part of Microsoft Citizenship’s regional Tech4Good programme.
Young people who are passionate about championing social causes are often interested to learn more about available opportunities for them to make a positive impact, as well as hear from professionals about how they overcome challenges faced in their own philanthropic work.
One such youth is Hae Jin Chang, a tertiary student from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, who has volunteered for various nonprofit programmes to prepare for a career path in this sector.
Hae Jin Chang, a tertiary student from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies was one of 28 youth who attended the recent Microsoft Korea event that showcased its commitment to addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities.
"As compared to my exposure to working with nonprofits, I feel that there are not enough opportunities to learn from multinational firms about their corporate social responsibility (CSR) work," she lamented.
Ms Chang was one of 28 youth recently invited to the Microsoft Korea office to take a closer look into the company’s commitment to address the needs of disadvantaged communities across the country, especially through the use of information technology (IT).
Jointly organized by Microsoft and Dream Together, a programme helmed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the event provided Microsoft the platform to showcase its CSR initiatives in three main areas: human rights, environmental issues and corporate governance. Microsoft Korea employees who are involved in leading CSR efforts took the opportunity to highlight their own experiences in supporting community projects and making a social contribution.
Jin Hee Bae, Corporate Affairs Specialist at Microsoft Korea, said, “From my personal perspective as someone who joined Microsoft without much prior knowledge of CSR work, I have been exposed to many opportunities to learn through training and mentorship programmes, plus getting involved in our various social initiatives.”
Ms Chang said, “By interacting with Microsoft Korea's CSR team, I was able to gain valuable insights into how I can work towards accomplishing my dream job and learn more about how they execute their CSR programmes.”
The CSR team at Microsoft Korea is focused on a wide range of activities that have a direct social and environmental impact. These activities include participation in high-level discussions to help shape public policies, collaborating with local nonprofits and boosting the technology capacity of young South Koreans.
Under its global YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft Korea has launched a series of youth-focused programmes aimed at addressing youth unemployment and closing the opportunity divide. These include collaborating with around 149 South Korean universities to boost IT capabilities as well as encouraging young innovators to take part in the annual Imagine Cup competition, which serves as a catalyst for youth to develop innovative technology solutions to address global problems.
Another recent highlight of Microsoft’s programmes is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the South Korean Ministry of Unification and the North Korean Refugee Foundation to provide IT education and training support for youth defectors from North Korea.
Hwan Lee Kim from the Korea Social Responsibility Institute (KOSRI) highlighted how the CSR initiatives from Microsoft Korea are setting a good example for other South Korean corporations.
Ms Kim noted, “Microsoft Korea has key CSR strategies such as spreading education and IT opportunity equally, which is deeply integrated into its business. I am delighted to attend this event because Microsoft's mission to help social enterprises is aligned with KOSRI's objectives. I am also grateful for this collaboration between Dream Together and Microsoft Korea, and hope Dream Together will continue encouraging Korean companies to further their social contribution.”
“The CSR team at Microsoft Korea is focused on a wide range of activities that have a direct social and environmental impact.”
Jin Hee Bae, Corporate Affairs Specialist, Microsoft Korea
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