Posted by Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education (@anthonysalcito)

In my role, I’m fortunate to witness the impact that engaged youth have on our world, especially as it relates to education. Today, I’m seeing it first-hand in Peru, at the Partners in Learning Latin American and Caribbean Forum.  The forum represents the most innovative educators in Latin America and it is inspiring to see the work they are doing in the classroom, creating the greatest impact for their student’s future endeavors. The enthusiasm here for helping empower our global youth is palpable. It’s a universal truth: when students are empowered and believe they can make a difference, they exceed expectations. They imagine, they create, they act.  It is through our youth that we can change the world.

Today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Brad Smith, Executive Vice President, announced Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide initiative designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over the next three years.  I invite you to tune into the recorded webcast for more information about this exciting announcement.  It is through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses, Microsoft YouthSpark seeks to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential.

YouthSpark brings a new focus for Microsoft’s philanthropy efforts.  We will dedicate the majority of our cash contributions to nonprofits that serve the youth population around the world.  And especially exciting to me, YouthSpark also goes beyond philanthropy to promote youth-focused programs and solutions from across the company, including Office365 for education, Skype in the Classroom, Partners in Learning and BizSpark.

I am proud that a key goal for YouthSpark is to empower young people by enabling access to technology and a better education. The ultimate goal is to inspire young people to imagine opportunities, and help them find a job or start their own business.

Microsoft YouthSpark includes new youth-focused Citizenship initiatives, including:
•    Give For Youth: a global micro-giving marketplace focused specifically on raising funds for nonprofits that support youth causes around the world with Microsoft’s support;
•    Microsoft YouthSpark Hub: an online space where young people can explore and access all of the services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and select nonprofit partners for education, skills, employment and entrepreneurship;
•    Microsoft Innovate For Good: a global online community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities.
 
Please join us as we launch this exciting new initiative!  For more insight into this exciting announcement please check out the Microsoft on the Issues Blog  and the Microsoft Citizenship Blog. I would also like to invite you to follow along as I tweet from the Partners in Learning Latin America and Caribbean Forum. I’ll be sharing stories, experiences and photos. Stay tuned!