Read the full blog post by John Scott Tynes, Competition Manager, Microsoft Imagine Cup, which was originally posted on 4 December 2013, on the Imagine Cup website.Imagine Cup 2014 is already off to a thrilling start. Since we launched this season in mid-September, thousands of students from countries all over the world have formed teams and begun creating brilliant projects. All of these students have one thing in common: they believe in themselves and in the skills they are developing. And in turn, here at Microsoft, we believe in the power of you. That’s why we created Imagine Cup, to provide students with a unique opportunity to grow their confidence and experience competition on a global stage.
The job market today is changing rapidly. Worldwide we see a generation of young people having a hard time finding employment. In the technology field there is a skills gap between what students are learning and what the best jobs require. Imagine Cup helps students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, gaining direct experience in problem solving, project management, communication, teamwork and more.We also know that students come from all kinds of backgrounds, countries and cultures. To ensure equal access to the latest tools and technology, we have once again partnered with Microsoft DreamSpark, which provides students with professional-level developer tools at no cost, helping students get a head start on their technology careers while building their incredible projects.New in 2014: SDL ChallengesWhen we began planning this season many months ago, we knew we wanted to make some changes to better address the world that students are already living in. We added new contests so students could find ways to compete all year long. We introduced our Software Development Lifecycle Challenges (SDLC) to provide participants real-world skills while working in a cross-disciplinary team. This provides the opportunity to learn best practices for starting a business and how to make the right decisions with the right information to bring ideas to market.The first of these new contests, the Pitch Video Challenge, ended recently with student teams from dozens of countries submitting their five-minute video pitches for their Imagine Cup projects. For the complete list of winning teams, please visit our Pitch Video Challenge Winners page.We are now in the final weeks of the Project Blueprint Challenge, where teams take a deep dive into their thinking and prepare a ten-page document exploring their concept and creating user personas, top user stories, business models, demonstrating how they have already sought and incorporated feedback from potential users. In January, we’ll launch the User Experience Challenge because great design is more important than ever to developing great software. New in 2014: World SemifinalsEvery year we have enormous numbers of students who compete in our three core Imagine Cup competitions of Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. They do so either in our dozens of National Finals held by our subsidiaries around the world or in our Online Finals, which provides students without a National Final in their country a path to victory.But in the end, only a few of the very best teams made it all the way to World Finals and received global recognition for their hard work. This year, we decided to change that.Every first-place winner in every National Finals and in our Online Finals will compete in a whole new round: the World Semifinals. Launching 1 May 2014, all of these first-place teams will be celebrated on our website as World Semifinalists so everyone can hear their stories, see their projects and be inspired by their imagination and passion. Every single World Semifinalist team will be eligible for prizes, including our Visual Studio Online Boost, in which nine teams will receive $1,000 each for using the cloud-based power of Visual Studio Online to collaborate, plan and implement their projects.2014 World FinalsAll World Semifinalists will compete against each other in a global judging round to select the few teams invited to the World Finals in Seattle in July, 2014. Microsoft will bring the very best student teams in the world to Seattle to present their Games, Innovation and World Citizenship projects to our judges, and we will celebrate the winners in each category.Get Started!Imagine Cup and DreamSpark are both part of the YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft’s commitment to empowering 300 million young people with opportunities in education, employment and entrepreneurship by 2015.If you’re a student aged 16 and up, you can get involved in Imagine Cup today. Just register a free account at our website and you’ll be ready to form a team and compete in our contests.We’ve published a list of Imagine Cup National Finals in the 2014 season as well as which countries are eligible to compete in our Online Finals. Check it out and get started!The future is waiting for only one thing: The Power of You.Read the full blog post by John Scott Tynes, Competition Manager, Microsoft Imagine Cup, which was originally posted on 4 December 2013, on the Imagine Cup website.
In November 2013, Microsoft brought 80 nonprofit representatives together in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand, for a full day of training on the effective use of social media.Heather Mansfield, principal writer at Nonprofit Tech for Good, conducted the training to rave reviews. "This was the best social media presentation I've attended, and I've done a few now," said Richard Parry of Stand Children's Services. Alan Royal of SeniorNet Wellington agreed, "An outstanding day. The speaker was fluent, informative and showed an awareness of New Zealand content.”We had the chance to catch up with Dave Greenberg from Life Flight Trust and Justine Storey from Plunket to ask them what they thought of the day.
For more information about the resources shared at the event, take a look at the summary on Storify here.
The social media workshop is one of many programmes that Microsoft offers to the nonprofit sector under its Corporate Citizenship umbrella. To find out more about Microsoft's resources for the nonprofit sector, subscribe to the Tech4Good e-newsletter.
Growing up in a rural village in northwest China, Yutiao Wang had dreams of breaking free from the monotony of working the fields. The gruelling farm work yielded only about $625 a year, which was not adequate to fund her high school education. Fortunately, through the free lessons provided by Microsoft-Fuping Community Technology Learning Center in Beijing, Yutiao is now armed with the necessary information technology (IT) skills to help her hunt for a job outside of her village and the fields.Yutiao is one of the many young people who have benefitted from Microsoft’s youth training programme in China. Working together with China Foundation for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment (CFYEE), Microsoft China successfully launched the IT training programme on 17 September. This programme seeks to enhance the employability and bring out the entrepreneurial capabilities of Chinese youth by educating them on much-needed IT skills. Ralph Haupter, Corporate Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for the Greater China Region at Microsoft; Xu Xiao, Standing Secretary of the Central Committee of the China Communist Youth League (CCYL) and Chairman of CFYEE; Ni Bangwen, Party Secretary of CCYL Central School; and Wang Qing, Secretary General of CFYEE, were among those who attended the launch event.According to Haupter, the programme will directly and indirectly benefit 8.6 million Chinese youth. Training centres will be set up in 11 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Hebei and Shandong. At these centres, IT training courses will be offered on topics such as using the Internet and various Microsoft Office software that are commonly used in the workplace today. Both organisations are extremely dedicated to this programme: they have invested RMB10 million with the aim to set up at least 100 training centres over the next three years.“This programme is an important component of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, as it will help to close the opportunity divide among the youth in China and empower them by providing training. We aim to reach at least 50,000 young people here,” said Haupter.
Haupter and Xu Xiao unveiling the plaque of the Microsoft *** CFYEE Beijing training centre
The launch of the IT training programme coincided with YouthSpark’s one-year anniversary, marking the progress Microsoft has made in China in this area.Today, Yutiao has a job handling administrative duties such as managing the information of clients and trainees. Considering that her first job was in housekeeping, her achievement today is a testament of how IT skills can help underprivileged youth in China widen their career options. “Microsoft aims to closely align our world-class technologies and resources with China’s key growth priority to develop an innovation and knowledge-based economy,” said Haupter.
This is part of a series of articles highlighting the valuable work that Microsoft’s Community Affairs Managers are doing in Asia.Miles of land sprawl out sporadically dotted by houses and farmlands. Sometimes a hawker peddling food or wares on a cart cycles by. Completing the picture would be those who, unfortunately, are missing from this scene typical of agricultural communities.
Supahrat Juramongkol, Microsoft Thailand Community Affairs Manager, organises most of the Citizenship activities she heads in areas that are lagging behind in terms of poverty reduction
“They are: young men who are struggling because of poor harvests, and haven’t had a stable income season after season; teenagers who can’t afford school and don’t have the skills or experience for decent-wage jobs,” Microsoft Thailand Community Affairs Manager Supahrat Juramongkol recalled of the participants she has met while organising Microsoft’s corporate citizenship programmes.The results of Thailand’s recent economic growth and poverty reduction programmes have dispersed unevenly, with income and opportunity inequalities still persisting in some of the less developed provinces. Poverty is dominant in rural areas: 88 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas, with the North and Northeast regions particularly underdeveloped. The dire poverty cycle cripples generations in many ways, and leaves many disadvantaged young men and women prone to exploitation.“Without a fruitful harvest, you can’t afford higher education for your children. Without sufficient education, they can’t get decent-wage jobs, let alone have any real savings. People aren’t able to simply ‘help’ themselves out of poverty,” Supahrat explained. “We want to intervene, and, hopefully, break the cycle with informal education.”Supahrat organises most of the Citizenship activities in areas that are lagging behind in terms of poverty reduction. These have mainly been information and communication technology (ICT) training to help provide more employment and marketing outreach opportunities for those from disadvantaged communities. In a project with Population and Community Development Association, Microsoft provided ICT training to help expand income opportunities; the programme reached 34,000 youth leaders, youths and villagers.Microsoft’s ICT training programmes also aim to raise awareness about the effective ways of using and producing digital content. Participants learn how to source for market rates for crop prices, connect with customers via social media and develop websites to promote their products.Supahrat and her colleagues also worked closely with many nonprofits in Thailand to set up 68 Community Technology Skill Centres in the North and Northeast regions to provide easier access to computers and the Internet.
Under Supahrat’s leadership, Microsoft Thailand has received a total of five Excellence Awards from the American Chamber of Commerce’s CSR programme
Another project, organised in conjunction with anti-trafficking NGO The Mirror Foundation and its networks, helped 30,000 vulnerable victims develop the necessary IT skills to secure decent-wage employment or go on to advanced IT training. Supahrat recalled, “The participants, mainly from hill tribes, were potential and actual victims of trafficking. They were pessimistic about their future, and the training gave them hope.” Armed with their new computer literacy, these participants now have the confidence to seek better employment and are less vulnerable to exploitation.The projects that give Supahrat the greatest sense of pride are: Building Employability through Technology and Entrepreneurship Resources (BETTER), and its follow-up programme E-BETTER — both are focused on building IT capacity and generating better job opportunities in Thailand and in ASEAN. The programmes are developed through close collaboration with the Department of Skill Development and the Ministry of Labour in Thailand, as well as the Kenan Institute Asia. To date, about 160,000 people have benefited from this programme.Under Supahrat’s leadership, Microsoft Thailand has received a total of five Excellence Awards from the American Chamber of Commerce’s CSR programme, and was also recognised for its US Creative Partnership programme, which builds knowledge-economy job skills by engaging Thai workers in public and private development.What are her tips for others working in CSR? “You need great partners to multiply project impact, you need to think of win-win strategies and always be passionate about what you do.”
By Mandeep Kaur, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft MalaysiaLast month, we announced a partnership with Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports to work on addressing the opportunity divide young people face in Malaysia.
Such a partnership between the private and public sectors is a sure sign of how Innovate for Good, the main pillar of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, is gaining a stronger foothold in Southeast Asia. Diverse and inclusive engagement of all stakeholders is important; this shared vision and action plan will help us to bring about more effective changes in tackling the issues.
The Innovate for Good event (8-9 October) was part of a number of satellite events we hosted in the lead-up to the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). It was attended by the Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin; the Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah; the United States Secretary of State’s Special Advisor on Global Youth Issues, Zeenat Rehman; US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun; Microsoft Malaysia’s Managing Director Carlos Lacerda; and 140 Malaysian youth. Such a turnout produced a number of open and constructive discussions on all parties’ concerns, ongoing activities and upcoming plans.
Turnout at Innovate for Good launch at Microsoft Malaysia’s office
John-son met Jia Chiun and Krane at the 2012 Innovate for Good Asia Pacific Summit in Singapore, after which DreamX joined the EPIC Homes team. They then developed an online platform to collect, organize and manage information on EPIC's volunteers, donations, indigenous homeowners and other resources for EPIC Homes. EPIC Homes is an organisation that constructs modular, prefabricated homes for Malaysia's Orang Asli indigenous population, 82 percent of whom (about 12,300 families) currently live in dilapidated and unsafe shelters.
GES took place a few days later (11-12 October), and our Senior Director of Global Community Affairs Akhtar Badshah represented us in sharing views on business innovation and entrepreneurship.
Microsoft booth at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit
The first event was a panel discussion on “Big Business and Start-up Collaborations” led by Microsoft, Abrar Capital and IBM, as well as nonprofit organisation Kauffman Foundation. The discussion brought up various perspectives on the role businesses and start-ups can take in collaborating on innovative investments.
Akhtar also presented at “Public Private Partnerships 2.0: How PPPs Help Entrepreneurs Tap into the Full Diversityof a Global Entrepreneurship Ecosystem”, which was hosted by US Special Representative for Global Partnerships Drew O’Brien. Akhtar announced the latest regional partnership platform to promote entrepreneurship, FALCONS@MENA, and discussed other similar initiatives (LIONS@frica and TIGERS@Mekong) and the impact achieved to date.
Partnerships with the public and private sectors, as well as participation of the youth with aspirations of using technology to do good, are essential for the success of Innovate for Good. As YB Minister Khairy said in his statement on our partnership, “We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people, but this role is not exclusively the Government’s and is a responsibility shared with the private sector and other key stakeholders. We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting entrepreneurs in the effort to develop human capital, specifically to assist in the development of IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programmes.”
“We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people but this role is not exclusively the Government’s and is a responsibility shared with the private sector and other key stakeholders. We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting entrepreneurs in the effort to develop human capital, specifically to assist in the development of IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programmes.” Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports
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