July, 2010

  • A Giant Step for Workforce Training Collaboration

    Last week the White House announced the inaugural grants of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) that included the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), as one of 11 award recipients. The two-year, $7.7 million award will fund an expansion of existing training programs in several of 23 NFWS sites and the establishment of 6-8 new sites.

    Displaced workers in America’s cities are the beneficiaries of the good news here.  The National Fund is already providing sector-based training for adults in cities such as Baltimore, Hartford, New York and Seattle and is developing best practices that can be replicated in other communities.  As an SIF recipient, the National Fund is uniquely positioned to help transform the way we cultivate talent in the U.S., especially for more than 80 million adults who struggle without 21st century skills that  align with today’s new knowledge economy.

    The other factor to be celebrated here is the power of collaboration around an idea that became the National Fund.  Through this unique partnership that began in 2000, corporate, private and family foundations pooled their resources and expertise with help from an established workforce intermediary, Jobs for the Future, to focus on jobs skills and training. Since its founding, the $23 million investment by nine donors has engaged over 200 local and regional partners and 500 employers to support skills training to prepare for jobs in growth sectors such as health care.

    In 2009, over 18,000 job seekers and incumbent workers received training and career support, 9,736 participants received degrees or credentials, and 4,058 jobseekers secured jobs as a result of their participation and 81% of those hired are working more than 35 hours per week.

    Microsoft, one of nine investors in the National Fund, made an $8 million commitment in cash and software to support this collaboration and has been-active along with other donors (including the Hitachi, Wal-Mart, Annie E. Casey,  Prudential and Ford foundations) in  addressing this national issue.   These efforts are closely aligned with our Elevate America skills training program and Microsoft continues to promote community-based training and to provide access to the technology tools that will strengthen the skills needed for displaced and disadvantaged workers to be successful.

    Public/private partnerships such as the NFWS are more relevant and more important than ever to help identify the best approaches to large scale workforce training needed to address the skills gap that has surfaced during the recent economic downturn. Policymakers are also likely to focus on these issues more intently as the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act emerges on the national agenda. As these scenarios unfold, the National Fund may play a key role in building effective models and helping communities to be more competitive.

    First Lady Michelle Obama described the intent of the Social Innovation Fund this way: “By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of public trust.”
    For now, the investors in the National Fund are celebrating the accomplishments that have resulted in this program expansion and preparing for the hard work and the opportunity to take a giant step forward and ideally engage additional partners on behalf of America’s workers.

    Cross posted from Microsoft on the Issues.

  • Bridging the digital gap in Norway

    Like many European countries, Norway has an aging population. Today, 13% of the population is above the age of 67 and by 2020 it is estimated that will grow to 22%. In 2008, the Norwegian Government presented a widely welcomed parliamentary white paper “An Information Society For All” which addresses key priorities for the country and aims to ensure that all sectors of Norwegian society enjoy the benefits of technology and the internet.

    Today in Norway, while overall internet usage is very high with nine out of ten Norwegians below the age of 55 using the internet on a daily basis, less than five out of ten people over the age of 68 are regular users.

    Microsoft Norway has been partnering with NGOs to address the challenge of improving the general population’s IT skills for several years and there is an increased focus on how we bring those skills to people over the age of 55.

    We have a long standing partnership with a Norwegian organization “Seniornett” who we support through funding, equipment and software. Seniornett is focused on increasing digital participation by people above the age of 55, through a national network of clubs offering training courses and meeting places for seniors who wish to learn how to use computer and the internet. Seniornett provided training to more than 18,000 seniors in 2009 and they aim to ensure that 250,000 seniors are active on the Internet by 2014.

    We’re also working closely with the Norwegian Red Cross on projects such as the Women’s café which provides computer and internet training. In Oslo, many of our employees use the three volunteering days they have each year to support the Woman’s Café. Microsoft volunteers provide women attending the café with personal computer and internet training. The café is especially popular amongst immigrants. Over 40% of immigrants in Norway have little or no IT skills, and Microsoft employees do outstanding work providing them with these essential IT skills. We think it’s a great example of how our people can use their skills in a way that directly benefits their local community – and make some good friends while they do so!

    Microsoft Norway General Manager Hege Skryseth guiding Karimi Mariam through the wonders of technology.

    Both the Seniornett and Women’s Café initiatives are now also supported by the national government through their e-inclusion agenda. It’s a great example of our ongoing commitment to drive effective citizenship programs in partnership with the public, private and nonprofit sectors and of course our people.

    Find out more about our citizenship activities in Norway on the Local Impact Map


    Kjetil Brun Thorvik

    Kjetil Brun Thorvik is the Citizenship lead for Microsoft Norway. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, he currently resides in Oslo, Norway. He has a business degree from Norwegian School of Management and over six years’ of experience as a corporate affairs consultant specializing in corporate citizenship and reputation management.

  • Imagine a world…

    As I write this post, over 400 students from every corner of the world are competing in Warsaw, Poland at the finals of the 2010 Imagine Cup

    Every single one of these students is a winner. 

    Over 325,000 students registered for this year’s competition and through local and regional competitions, these 400 have battled their way to the world finals.

    The Imagine Cup challenges students to think about how they can use technology to solve some of the world’s toughest problems as inspired by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

    Their ingenuity and creativity, not to mention their technology skills, are absolutely incredible. I had the privilege of attending the 2009 Imagine Cup world finals in Cairo, Egypt and it’s impossible to share the excitement of the event through a single blog post.

    The great news is that you can follow the excitement online.

    The Imagine Cup World Festival takes place on July 8th 2010 when the overall winners will be announced. 

  • New program to develop IT skills in Haiti

    Frank Schott, the global program director for NetHope has written a blog post over on Wired’s Haiti ReWired site about the chronic shortage of local information and communication technology (ICT) professionals in the country.

    Frank writes:

    ICT can be used to support health, education, economic development and conservation -- telemedicine, distance learning, epayments, mapping for deforestation are all well within reach. ICT solutions are needed to facilitate the rebuilding of Haiti, but there is a serious shortage of ICT professionals in the country.

    To address this issue, Nethope is launching a new in-country initiative in Haiti:

    NetHope Academy is launching an intern program that will give Haitian computer science students an opportunity to get on-the-job training while working for humanitarian organizations and corporations. Haiti is no different than anywhere else. It’s hard to get hired if you don’t have any work experience. The NetHope Academy can help, but we need your support.

    To find out more, read Frank’s post or visit the NetHope Academy site.

  • Update: Free webinar shows you how Office 2010 can help your nonprofit

    Editor's Note: Due to a huge response, the webinar is now full, however you will be able to review a recording of the event at: http://bit.ly/ngowebinar

    On Tuesday, July 27th 2010 at 11am Pacific time (2pm Eastern) we are co-hosting a free webinar with TechSoup to provide you with advice and information on some of the compelling reasons for upgrading to Office 2010.

    The webinar will be hosted by Elliot Harmon from TechSoup, author of What Your Organization Should Know About Office 2010, and an expert from our Microsoft Office team. They’ll cover a range of areas including:

    • An overview of many of the improved features - such as image and video-editing - throughout the suite
    • Office 2010 Web Apps for improved online collaboration
    • The Social Connector tool that brings your social network to Outlook
    • Guidance on upgrading your nonprofit to Office 2010
    • Advice on how you can get Office 2010 for your nonprofit through our software donations program

    You can download and view recordings of recent nonprofit webinars covering Windows 7, CRM and Online Tools at: http://bit.ly/ngowebinar.

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