For 25-year-old Malaysian Michael Teoh, a highlight of his relatively young career was being selected as one of the two winners and global ambassadors in the ‘Your Big Year’ (YBY) 2011 competition hosted by the Smaller Earth Group. Applicants compete in a series of challenges that involve themes of social entrepreneurship and global citizenship that positively impact the world.
The YBY ambassadorship paved the way for Michael to lead a global expedition to 22 countries in 2012, providing him with the opportunity to interact with governments, businesses and nonprofit groups as well as learn how to develop and lead social initiatives to empower youth.
“Technology opens up a whole new world of knowledge and connectivity among youth today, keeping them updated with recent trends and changes in their society. The YBY ambassadorship provided me with the opportunity to learn how to use platforms such as social media and online learning tools to empower youth globally,” Michaelsaid.
One of Michael’s earliest experiences in the development of technology solutions was through his participation in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. In 2008, the former Auckland University of Technology student competed at the Imagine Cup competition and worked with teammates from diverse backgrounds for a common goal — the use of technology to address global problems.
Michael explained, “Microsoft provided access to the Student Developer Network, giving us the online tools to create smart technology applications to aid youth. The support from Microsoft made a big difference, and opened up our perspectives on how technology can be used to transform lives. Today, through my own initiatives, I am involved in coaching youth and young executives to create positive change within their own organisations and communities.”
Michael relishes the opportunities that have opened up for him as a youth advocate with an active role in a number of social enterprises. For instance, he is serving as the Managing Editor of Entrepreneurs.my, an online portal he co-founded, and various speaking engagements aimed at inspiring youth around the world to harness their innovative ideas for a meaningful cause.
He also sees a great potential in the use of technology to help improve the lives of millions of underprivileged children, especially those in rural areas, to bridge the technology divide.
“Computer literacy in many rural areas around the world is still lacking, often preventing young people from getting improved job opportunities. More can be done in terms of building awareness as well as providing better access to technology and developing a grassroots-driven approach to address this problem, whereby teams of technology experts can be stationed to mentor and cultivate the usage of the latest technology and computing devices in these rural communities,” Michael added.
YouthSpark is a Microsoft companywide initiative designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries during the next three years. Through partnerships with governments, nonprofits and businesses, Microsoft aims to empower youth to imagine and realise their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We want to empower youth to change their world.
See a full list of Microsoft YouthSpark programmes here.
Microsoft Australia hosted 20 female computing and information technology (IT) students at its Sydney office on 9 October in partnership with Girl Geek Coffees (GGC), a local nonprofit organisation that facilitates networking between young women pursuing their interests in computer, science and engineering.
At the event, the self-styled ‘Girl Geeks’ took the opportunity to network with each other and with Microsoft employees including senior executives such as Pip Marlow, Microsoft Australia Managing Director, and HR Director Rose Clements.
The participants also took part in a design challenge, competing in teams to develop the best concept for a new PC, tablet or mobile phone application. Several Microsoft employees chipped in as team mentors to help the Girl Geeks develop some brilliant app ideas that embody the creativity and spirit of innovation that the technology sector is built on.
“Collaborations with nonprofit groups such as GGC help to strengthen Microsoft’s reputation as an employer of choice for Australian women,” said Ms Marlow. “We hope to provide young women the opportunity to unleash their creativity and innovation in a relaxed environment, as well as to share with them more about Microsoft’s flexible and inclusive culture.”
GGC was started in Queensland in 2009 and has since expanded to include chapters in all major Australian universities and in major cities around the world. Building on the support from industry ambassadors and corporations such as Microsoft, GGC aims to continue nurturing a strong enthusiasm for IT among young women.
“Girl Geek Coffees is passionate about providing support for students and early career females in ICT. We encourage our members to network together, in order to foster much needed colleagues as they develop through their careers. We also engage in group work activities, such as networking games and app competitions. These foster a sense of team spirit, group identity and closer interpersonal bonding,” said GGC founder Miriam Hochwald.
“We are delighted with the positive feedback from the students who participated at the event. Working together with GGC, our shared goal is to improve the rate of female participation in the sciences and technology sector,” Ms Marlow added.
“Working together with Girl Geek Coffees, Microsoft Australia hopes to provide young women the opportunity to unleash their creativity and innovation in a relaxed environment.”
- Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia
In October 2012, Microsoft Citizenship launched its inaugural YouthSpark Master Class, an initiative focused on empowering the next generation of change makers to realize their potential.
A Master Class is all about learning from the best, but also about sharing experiences and taking those insights and applying it to our own endeavours. This Master Class programme is part of the global Microsoft YouthSpark initiative,which is aimed at creating opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries over the next three years.
“It was a very insightful event, and it’s so good to know that there is so much information and programmes that today’s youth can benefit from,” said panellist Simy Paul, Associate Technical Manager, Microsoft Singapore, and Innovate for Good Youth Ambassador.
Sixty-one young people, who have previously participated or been beneficiaries of Microsoft’s various youth-focused programmes, were invited to the Master Class held in Singapore.
Muhammad Sufi Bin Amran, 2010 Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholar, said, “The YouthSpark Master Class has inspired me to broaden my mind and pursue the things I want to do in the future.”
The participants got together to share their views on the future of innovation, gain new perspectives and exchange ideas with Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer.
Helene Auriol, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore, kicked off the event with her welcome address, highlighting Microsoft’s commitments in Singapore through investing in talent development and capacity building to help create a more inclusive Singapore society as well as to close the opportunity divide for young people.
“We are very committed to the development of the youth in Singapore. It’s a matter of being prepared to be a role model of the future, to innovate and enable creation of new business. That’s something we really believe in — that together, we can empower the youth around this country to create, realise and imagine their full potential,” said Ms Auriol.
Her presentation was followed by Mr Mundie sharing his thoughts on the new era of personal computing, and how maturing technologies will change the way people engage with computing systems and gain insights from big data to make better decisions. According to him, the computing ecosystem is evolving rapidly and requires new ways of thinking about computing in the years ahead.
Mr Mundie also took part in an interactive panel session with several participants, discussing how the latest personal computing technologies have a key role to play in addressing many of the challenges facing the world.
This first staging of the YouthSpark Master Class received a rousing response from the participants, who were impressed by the breadth of ideas shared during the event.
Leonard Tan Ming Fong, a Nanyang Polytechnic student, said, “The dialogue with Craig Mundie was the event highlight for me, as he provided good insights into areas where computing can be used or improved to help others.”
“The integration of a wide range of devices, cloud services and natural experiences that span the technology ecosystem will enable truly personal computing – nothing will work in isolation, and everything will work for you.”
- Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft
This article was written by Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 (Bio) (LinkedIn), author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits and owner of DIOSA Communications.
Many nonprofits rush into creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites without understanding that some of the decisions made during the set-up process will impact your social media campaigns for years to come. There are some basic steps that need to be made to both protect your nonprofit’s brand on the Social Web and to lay a solid foundation upon which to build your nonprofit’s presence.
Step 1: Create a unique email address for your social networking accounts.
The first step is creating an email address to be used solely for creating and managing your nonprofit’s accounts on social networking sites. Since staff turnover is a reality of professional life, having a staff person use their personal work email address to create the accounts is not a best practice. At some point when they leave your organization all the accounts will have to be handed over to a new staff person and all email logins modified, so it’s best to set up the accounts correctly from the beginning.
Named one of the Top 50 Websites of 2012 by TIME Magazine, Outlook.com is a new Web-based email client that also includes access to SkyDrive (a cloud-based file-hosting service) and a suite of Office Web Apps (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote) – all for free. To get started, create a Microsoft account. During the process you’ll be prompted to create a new Outlook.com email address. If possible, your new email address should be the same as your nonprofit’s website URL, such as email@example.com. Once you have created your new Microsoft account, you will then be given instant access to your new Outlook.com email address:
Step 2: Create a social media dashboard.
Logging in and navigating multiple social networks daily can be time consuming and most nonprofits have limited time to dedicate to social media. Save yourself 10-20 minutes a day by taking a few minutes now to organize your desktop. In Internet Explorer you can easily drag and drop any website into the navigation bar atop the browser, which then allows easy access to your nonprofit’s social networking communities. If you have opted to stay logged into Facebook, Twitter and other sites, then you do not have to log in individually each time you click on any given social network you have featured in your navigation bar: Step 3: Create a Master Login Spreadsheet
As the Social Web becomes more integrated into nonprofit communications and fundraising strategies, it’s likely that you will have five, 10 or even 20 separate logins to maintain and remember. To keep the process as simple and organized as possible – and to avoid the very common problem in which a volunteer, intern or staff person leaves an organization abruptly and takes with them the institutional memory of your social network logins – it’s a best practice to organize your logins in one Excel spreadsheet. To do so in Outlook.com, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, click on the down arrow and select the “SkyDrive” pop-down > SkyDrive > Excel:
Next, create the following columns in the Excel document: Website Name, Email Address, Password, URL and Date Created:
Then each time you create a new community on the Social Web, enter the login information into your new Master Login Spreadsheet. Ensure that at least one person at your organization other than the social media manager has access to this Outlook.com > SkyDrive > Excel document. This ensures that your login history is secure, stored and easily accessible anytime, anywhere since the data is stored in the cloud.
Getting organized on the Social Web is a critical step that many social media managers skip altogether. Investing the time - up front - to organize yourself and store your passwords in the cloud will save you hours of time and prevent some big headaches down the line.
On 13 October, Microsoft Sri Lanka organised a Volunteer Day at the SOS Children’s Village Piliyandala, situated on the outskirts of the city of Piliyandala in Kesbewa, about 20 kilometres from the capital of Colombo.
SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka support children who have lost the care of their biological families as well as those who are at risk of losing the care of their biological families in five different locations across Sri Lanka — enabling children to live in a family with love, respect and protection. Children receive care, education, vocational training opportunities and medical services, enabling them to grow up in a child-friendly environment.
During the event, the Microsoft volunteers interacted with more than 250 children and engaged them in a series of learning sessions that involve the use of the latest information technology (IT) and basic work skills training. The planned activities were differentiated according to the children’s respective age groups.
Young children under the age of 10 experienced first-hand the use of Windows® MultiPoint Server to improve their learning capabilities. During the MultiPoint sessions, the young students gathered in classrooms to learn how to access a single PC through multiple, individually-operated mouse devices.
A session on social media and the importance of online safety was conducted to provide the teenagers at the SOS Children’s Village guidance on the different types of social media and how they can protect themselves from the potential dangers of digital technologies.
Microsoft also introduced them to the enhanced features of the latest technologies such as Windows 8, Windows 8 phone and Microsoft cloud platforms, while the Xbox® and Kinect® devices added much excitement during the event. The Microsoft staff members and the children capped off Volunteer Day with a friendly cricket match.
“We are honoured to have the opportunity to support SOS Children’s Villages in their efforts to help young, disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka develop to their fullest potential. Microsoft wants to provide these children with the technology training they need and empower them to play an active role in improving their own lives,” said Janakie Karunaratne, Microsoft Sri Lanka Citizenship Manager.
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