Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Microsoft is very proud of our TEALS partnership with Seattle Public Schools and Rainier Beach High School. We commend the leadership, vision and courage of these educators to recognize the opportunities that computer science education opens up for young people. Preparing young people for life is perhaps the most important job one can do. Thanks to principals like Dwane Chappelle of Rainier Beach High School for doing whatever it takes. In this blog post, a high school student talks about why he’s excited about taking computer science classes through TEALS.
By Bishal Acharya
There are just three students in my Advanced Placement Computer Science class at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School (RBHS). Three people out of a school of more than 400. Three people out of a senior class of about 100. In today’s high-tech, computer-driven world, that would be sad and depressing news anywhere.
In Seattle, where tens of thousands of people work in software, electronic commerce and other high-tech jobs, it’s just crazy. At RBHS, where three Microsoft software engineers help teach through the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, it’s especially crazy.
Fortunately, the Washington state legislature passed a new law in Olympia that will help change that by counting advanced placement computer science as math or science credit. It may be hard to believe that what is likely the most difficult class offered at my school doesn’t currently count as a math or science credit.
But today that will change when Gov. Jay Inslee signs House Bill 1472 into law. This is a big step in the right direction.
WA state Governor Jay Inslee signing into law the recognition of AP computer science class as credit towards graduation requirements in math and science.
Most of my fellow students at RBHS come from low-income backgrounds and families of color. Like me, many are recent immigrants to this country. The dropout rate here is high, and too few of my schoolmates go on to college. Many do not even understand that companies like Microsoft and Amazon are just a few miles away from our neighborhood. One of my computer science classmates left the class to flip burgers.
Computer science is a way out of that fate, a proven path to a better life.
And yet almost nobody takes it.
Students following a traditional path to college take algebra, geometry, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics. Not computer science.
Even the easier introductory computer science course here at RBHS, while popular, doesn’t get the interest it should even though students in that class get to write cool apps and games for mobile phones. Many schools around Washington don’t even offer computer science.
Again, that seems crazy. Why wouldn’t we want more people taking computer science when our economy needs so many computer scientists and so many people need jobs? A recent report found that there are 25,000 unfilled jobs in Washington because the state’s residents don’t have the right skills. That number could grow to 50,000 by 2017.
That’s why I’m so glad the Legislature has taken action to count AP Computer Science as either math or science credit. Personally, I think the introductory course should count as well. But I understand that lawmakers were concerned that might interfere with students taking Algebra 2, which teaches important skills used in everyday life.
Allowing AP Computer Science to show up on my high school transcript as a math or science credit costs the state nothing and will start many students on a great career path. It’s no surprise that such a simple, straightforward idea is supported by 77 percent of Washington voters according to a recent poll by Washington STEM.
The technology companies that are part of Washington STEM want to hire people like me – local kids from Washington, educated in our schools. I want to work for one of those companies some day, or perhaps start my own company. I understand the opportunities that await me – especially in my backyard. If more students took computer science, they would understand these opportunities as well. Now, hopefully more will be encouraged to enroll in these classes.
“Geek 2 Chic events transform young, successful science and technology professionals from big brands, startup companies, government and academia into fashion models for one night.”
– Geek 2 Chic producer Mark Drapeau, Director of Innovation Social at Microsoft Corp.
Geek 2 Chic is a national charity fashion show produced by Mark Drapeau of Microsoft in partnership with Bloomingdale's. The event series raises funds for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a national nonprofit that provides programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures.
NFTE is one of our national nonprofit partners, and one of many that we’ve partnered up with for Microsoft YouthSpark, our three-year commitment to bring opportunity to 300 million young people through education, employment and entrepreneurship.
To support NFTE and YouthSpark, we’ve brought Geek 2 Chic to San Francisco for a one-of-a-kind event that will bring some of Silicon Valley’s powerhouse companies together for a good cause. We’ll be providing professional makeovers for 28 participating “geeks,” and then hosting a fashion show at Bloomingdale’s San Francisco. 100% of the proceeds raised by this event will benefit NFTE’s Bay Area office.
Leading up to the event, our Microsoft Silicon Valley team was able to interview three of our models:
· Sarah Ware, CEO of Markerly
· Christina Gagnier, a partner, IP, Internet, and tech lawyer
· Ivannia De Alba, Financial Analyst for Facebook
We chatted with these tech industry women about their life, career, and personal goals. Check out their responses below, and join us to watch the models strut their stuff on Wednesday, May 15th in Bloomingdale’s Westfield San Francisco Centre from 6-9pm. More details, including registration information available here.
Not able to attend the event in person? We’ll also be covering all key activities (and fashions) live on Twitter with @MicrosoftSV and the hashtag #Geek2Chic.
Sarah Ware, CEO of Markerly
Are you involved with any nonprofits in the SF/SV area?
Sarah: I am new to the area, and I’m just starting to participate with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As an entrepreneur, we understand what it means to take charge of our own destiny, and that's a really powerful message to send to young people.
Christina Gagnier, a partner, IP, Internet, and tech lawyer
Christina: I am on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Without My Consent, which works to aid and educate those who are victimized online. I believe the work they do is important for victims who oftentimes just need to be empowered to seek justice. Though the Internet and social media are so valuable for inspiration, communication and creativity, these tools are sometimes used in ways that exploit individuals, like women. We need to make sure there is accountability in place.
Ivannia De Alba, Facebook
Ivannia: I have been involved with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) for over 10 years, and it has been an amazing experience. I have seen firsthand how it changes lives through education and empowerment. NFTE empowers students to take control of their futures by providing them the tools to understand and navigate the world around them through an entrepreneurial lens.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a graduating high school senior who wants to make a difference in his or her community?
Sarah: There are so many ways to make a difference in other people's lives, so pick one that you feel most passionate about. You can volunteer with a sports camp, a computer camp, the elderly, infants, animals, the homeless...you have choices. What inspires you?
Christina: I would share my favorite quote by Percy Ross: "A clever, imaginative humorous request opens closed doors and closed minds."
Ivannia: My advice can be encapsulated in three key statements: Be passionate, be bold and be fearless. If you want to make a difference, you already have the passion. Now, own it! Go on and be bold – feel empowered to make it happen. You are a representative for your community, and now is your chance to change the world around you. That can be your legacy. Start with what you know, create a plan, and rally people around your cause. Be empowered to have a voice, represent your community, and share your story. It’s more powerful that you think.
Microsoft YouthSpark will create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over the next three years. Where do you think the biggest gaps exist that we need to be focused on for the next generation of leaders?
Sarah: I'd like to see more bridging of online education with real-world community building and experiments for students in schools that are getting by with the bare necessities. For example, maybe a local community would greatly benefit from the use of solar panels. If supplies are donated, teenagers could help install the panels while learning about energy. Experts in the field could volunteer their time to help educate and answer questions for the students during their project.
Christina: There is a fundamental misunderstanding about how "hi tech" and "savvy" kids today are with technology. Many kids still do not have access to technology in the ways that we may believe they do. They may also lack basic skills, like word processing. We have to make sure all kids have the skill set to participate in our information economy. We have to stop assuming "all kids" are the same in this regard.
How would you define your personal style?
Sarah: I have a very relaxed and conservative style. I'm not sure which bucket I fit into!
Christina: My personality is not girly, but my style certainly is. There is a lot of pink, dresses and high heels. Toss in fun rings and bracelets. Fashion is a fun way to express yourself, even for lawyers.
Ivannia: Classic and chic.
On May 15th, 28 outstanding young techies will strut the catwalk at Geek 2 Chic, and a full model list is available here. 100% of ticket sales go directly to NFTE, and just $35 will get you in for general admission. Tickets are limited, so be sure to register soon! You can also upgrade to an $85 VIP ticket for event seating along the catwalk, guaranteed access to an exclusive after party, and a VIP swag bag with goodies from Microsoft, Square, and more.
Hope to see you there! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @MicrosoftSV and watch the hashtag #Geek2Chic for live updates during the evening.
By: Molly Bull, Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft Disaster Response
Supporting humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts is core to our commitment to develop technology solutions, tools, and practices that can foster social and economic change. That’s why we want to make it easier for you to know about the latest tools and resources to help you be prepared should a natural disaster strike.
Starting today, you can now tune in to watch video interviews where we sit down with experts from Microsoft’s Disaster Response Program to get updates on what the company is doing to connect communities and enable responders at time of need. Every few months we will post a new video with topics that will help familiarize you with the program, and ways technology can help you prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
In our first video, we sat down with Harmony Mabrey, who manages operations and the partner alliance program on Microsoft’s Disaster Response team, to learn about the innovative work her team is doing to help provide software solutions to people who have been impacted by a natural disaster. For example, her team focuses on how Microsoft technology can be applied to help citizens reconnect with loved ones, help responders communicate and coordinate, and help businesses get back up and running.
By Gerald Chertavian, CEO of Year Up
Jessica Vides had a common story. A few years ago, she dropped out of high school – not because of laziness or lack of ambition, but because her family was going through a crisis and, though still a teenager herself, she needed to help take care of her sister’s children. In time, she was an unemployed high school dropout, with few career prospects and responsibilities that hadn’t gone away.
That’s when Jessica’s story changed direction. She enrolled in and completed a GED program, and a counselor there encouraged her to apply to Year Up Puget Sound. She spent her first weeks with us learning how to use Microsoft Office, before acquiring a comprehensive background in IT, while also gaining competencies in how to dress for, communicate in, and navigate through a corporate environment. After six months of intensive training, she embarked on a six month internship with DreamBox Learning, where her intelligence and motivation were on full display. Following her internship, she was hired as a Client Care Specialist. She’s still there today, actively contributing to DreamBox’s bottom line and its mission to close the Achievement Gap in America’s schools.
The 21st century workforce has arrived, and contrary to public perception, the most talented workers often have stories like Jessica’s. Most young Americans are trying to navigate school and work while shouldering responsibilities at home, but are faced with the worst employment prospects on record for young adults and shockingly low community college completion rates. They’re smart, motivated, and perseverant; all they need is an opportunity to learn marketable skills and then prove themselves in the workplace. Most employers and policymakers, though, don’t know just how much they’re capable of achieving.
That’s what today’s Walk for Opportunity is all about. In eight of Year Up’s cities, 2,000 students, staff and supporters are walking, rallying, advocating – and in Puget Sound, flash mobbing – to call the public’s attention to the talent that lives in our urban neighborhoods. Our alumni are continually proving that they are EPIC: Empowered, Professional, In-demand by employers, and Career-ready. 84% of Year Up’s alumni are employed or in college full-time within four months of graduation, and those who are working earn an average of $15/hour (about $30,000/year for salaried employees). Those students on the street today are not looking for pity or charity. Quite literally, they’re looking for Opportunity, not only for themselves but for the 6.7 million young adults in this country who are out of school and out of work.
Year Up’s Seattle chapter turned their Walk for Opportunity into a flash mob at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle.
The Opportunity Divide that traps so many young people in poverty isn’t just hurting them. As a society, we are losing out on the collective talent of millions of people, and are paying a heavy price. Over the course of their lifetime, this cohort will cost taxpayers $1.15 trillion through expenditures and lost revenue, if we fail to reconnect them to career pathways.
Companies, too, are especially suffering from the Opportunity Divide. There were 3.9 million job openings that employers were unable to fill last month, a large proportion of which are middle-skills jobs, and they’re facing a structural shortage of millions of middle-skilled workers over the next decade. This inability to fill job openings in a time of high unemployment bodes ill for our ability to compete globally – both for companies and our economy as a whole – in the years to come.
Many of America’s leading employers are shifting their practices, and widening their lens beyond “traditional” sources of talent, to meet the challenge. In fact, more than 250 companies – firms like Microsoft, LinkedIn, and JP Morgan Chase – invest in Year Up’s students. For most of our corporate partners, this is not philanthropy; it’s a business partnership they use to meet very real needs by gaining immediate access to a steady pipeline of dedicated, skilled employees (with low turnover) for hard-to-fill jobs, as well as to increase diversity and meet a commitment to serving the community.
It’s also a long-term investment, fueled by the recognition that the next generation of skilled talent often has a story like Jessica’s – the same shift in perception that our students are rallying for today. They understand that if companies want access to the employees that will fuel our economic growth in the decades to come, they need to invest in young people and the programs that prepare them to contribute. If they want to thrive, they need to recognize talent.
By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs
When it comes to social change, launching entrepreneurial ventures, and coming up with the next generation of big ideas, we know that nothing matches the creativity and passion of youth. That’s the driving force behind Microsoft YouthSpark, our company-wide commitment to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 300 million young people over three years.
Today we’re launching YouthSpark Challenge for Change, a contest for U.S. residents aged 18 to 25 who have an idea for sparking change in their communities or around the world for the chance to win* amazing prizes, including a volunteer trip to Kenya this summer and the latest Microsoft products. Entering the contest is easy. Simply answer a few questions about your social good project and how Windows and Office could help bring it to life.
Microsoft wants to help young people change the world, and because we believe all good deeds should be rewarded, everyone who enters the contest will win!
If you’re wondering how to incorporate Windows and Office into your entry, click over to the Windows blog and Office.com for tips and tricks. And if you’re looking for inspiration for your own change-sparking project, watch Rebecca and Christina share stories about their projects, Plus Ultra and the Do Good Bus.
Enter the challenge now.
After all of the contest entries have been received, our judges will narrow the entries to 20 finalists, who will be revealed on June 17. Then the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite project once a day until June 24. We’ll announce our five grand prize winners on July 1, which will mark the end of the contest but the beginning of another journey. We’re excited to bring you the stories of our five winners and future YouthSpark Stars as they volunteer in Kenya this summer and launch their social good projects in the following months. And who knows… maybe one of them will be you.
*No purchase necessary. Entry deadline May 24, 2013. See website for full Official Rules.
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