Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark program in partnership with TakingITGlobal, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities. This global community of young social innovators benefits uniquely from Microsoft’s expertise as a leading technology company since 1975 and TakingITGlobal’s experience facilitating online communities for youth worldwide since 1999.

Over the past year, youth from Asia-Pacific have showed incredible participation in the Microsoft Innovate for Good online community, creating impressive new initiatives with the help of Microsoft and TakingITGlobal. After attending Innovate for Good events in their region, most youth get involved in the online community where they can access resources to help them turn their ideas into a reality, finding innovative ways to leverage technology to improve their communities. When ranked by contributions to the online community the APAC region is well-represented, with Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia among the top-ten countries on the site.

The Seed Funding for Innovation Challenge is one of the key contests run within the Innovate for Good online community, and nearly three months ago 20 applications were accepted. Once accepted into the Challenge, all 20 ideas were admitted to TakingITGlobal’s Sprout e-Course, all are offered grants to support their project if they complete the course, and all ideas were opened to a vote by the community. Last week, five finalists emerged with the most votes, and all but one of these five finalists is from APAC! These finalists will receive a prize pack from Microsoft to recognize their efforts in promoting their idea and working to make it real.

TakingITGlobal’s Sprout e-Course runs for 9-weeks, and aims to equip a diverse generation of courageous youth with essential skills to craft effective social innovation projects and change their corner of the world for the better. This is a supported online learning opportunity designed to provide young people with access to training in project management, communications, and leveraging technology as they imagine, plan and develop social change initiatives. Participants are guided through learning modules, lessons and quizzes, and independent work to develop assets as part of a Project Portfolio. While all twenty participants are admitted to the course, the five finalists have the distinction of winning the vote within the online community, which shows their ability to promote their idea effectively within the community and gain interest and support from their peers.

Here are the five finalists!

Microsoft YouthSpark brings together a variety of Microsoft programs which aim to empower youth with access to technology and a better education, inspire young people to imagine new opportunities and help young people to find a job or start their own businesses. By connecting youth with greater opportunities, Microsoft YouthSpark hopes to empower young people to change their world and realize their full potential.

Visit the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub at http://www.microsoft.com/youthspark and explore all the Microsoft programs and resources we have to help young people.

Blog post contributed by Ryan MacLean [twitter: @thisnote], Project Manager, TakingITGlobal.