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.

  • Microsoft Office 2010 for Nonprofits

    On Tuesday, Microsoft Community Affairs and TechSoup hosted a webinar on Office 2010 for Nonprofits and Libraries.

    Elliot Harmon, a staff writer for TechSoup Global, and Markus Weickenmeier, a product manager at Microsoft, led the presentation on Office 2010 and what it offers nonprofit organizations.

    To download and view a recording of the webinar, click on the image below and save the file to a location on your computer, then open the saved file to view the recording (the recording is approximately 80 minutes in length and 22MB in size).

    The webinar covered a variety of topics, including:

    · Office Web Apps (if you watch nothing else, watch this!)

    · Collaborating on shared documents via Windows Live SkyDrive and Microsoft SharePoint

    · Some of Office 2010’s new features and functionality

    · The Outlook Social Connector (a personal favorite)

    · Sharing PowerPoint presentations over the web, and

    · How eligible nonprofits can request Microsoft software donations through TechSoup

    TechSoup has blogged about the webinar, and included resources to learn more and a link to their Community Forum, at http://bit.ly/officewebinar

    Microsoft is committed to delivering relevant and accessible technology to nonprofits. We partner with TechSoup to deliver knowledge and resources to nonprofits around the world because we believe it is important to connect organizations directly with experts on products that are most commonly used and valued by nonprofits. We will post opportunities to participate in future webinars and other training opportunities here on the blog and via our twitter account, @msftcitizenship.

  • NTEN Technology Leadership Academy

    Now more than ever, nonprofit leaders must understand the potential technology has to help them meet their missions. They require effective ways to manage technology and lead others to use tools to further their missions and increase the efficacy of their organizations. Microsoft is pleased to be partnering with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) in sponsoring The Technology Leadership Academy, a 9-week online training program designed to help nonprofit leaders do just that.

    Applications are due July 30th, so there are only 2 days remaining for nonprofit organizations to apply for participation in the Technology Leadership Academy.

    The Academy will bring together 100 participants from 50 nonprofit organizations for a 9-week online training program designed to create nonprofit technology leaders. Qualifying organizations will be able to participate in the Academy at no charge. Participants will be selected based on the application guidelines and their commitment to full and active participation.

    If you are interested in participating, apply now for the Technology Leadership Academy.

    The Academy is a unique opportunity to learn and interact with nonprofit technology peers while creating a tight network of nonprofit leaders working towards a common mission: to use technology to create more social change.

    Nonprofit technology leaders need to understand a few key concepts to make the right decisions for their organizations. To that end, the Academy will bring some of the best minds in nonprofit technology to its participants.

    Instructors during the weekly core sessions will include nonprofit leaders like Beth Kanter, Katya Andresen, and Edward Granger-Happ. On a weekly basis, participants will also have the opportunity to interact with field experts like Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group and Author of Open Leadership, in Ask the Expert sessions.

    Attendees of the Academy will be able to:

    • Articulate the value of technology in their organization for themselves, funders, and other key stakeholders.
    • View technology as integral to every department in their organizations.
    • Recognize options for funding IT projects in their organizations.
    • Staff technology effectively.
    • Manage the organizational change that technology can produce.

    Pass the word along, and we encourage you to apply before July 30th to participate!

  • Boys and Girls bringing digital technology to life

    Yesterday in Atlanta I had the great pleasure of attending the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Digital Arts Festival. This is one of my favorite events of the year where we get to see incredible entries from kids across America who have brought their creativity to life using technology.


    You can see examples of the amazing entries on the Digital Arts Festival gallery website

    BGCA provides programs and services in communities across the United States - and on U.S. military bases around the world. They give millions of American kids a safe, fun place to learn and grow. It’s this focus on not only supporting children, but giving them access to knowledge and skills, that drove our initial partnership with the Club over a decade ago.

    That partnership led to the creation of the Club Tech program, which today provides over a million children a year with access to technology and with access to the skills they need to use that technology. We’re very proud that the initiative continues to grow and we are delighted that Comcast joined the program earlier this year.

    There is a lot of discussion about the importance of innovation and creativity for our future social and economic prosperity. I think the Digital Arts Festival provides a great showcase of what’s possible when you provide our kids with the skills they need to use the latest technology. The combination of those skills with their own creativity and passion delivers outstanding results.

    This year kids ranging in ages from 6 to 18 competed in four categories:

    • Photo Illustration: create a digital photo that illustrates how Club members become successful in life. The submission has to be a full-page, color magazine advertisement that encouraged their peers to BE GREAT.
    • Music Making: create an inspirational jingle that can teach their peers to BE GREAT through music.
    • Graphic Design: follow the same format as the national “BE GREAT” advertising campaign and design a billboard celebrating the success of a local community member.
    • Movie Making: write or produce a three minute public service announcement or documentary illustrating why graduating from high school is important to their future, their peers, and the world at large.

    The national Digital Arts Festival winners travelled to BGCA headquarters in Atlanta from Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and even Japan. They had an action packed time which culminated in the awards ceremony which was ably hosted by Kawamba Metuassalol. Myself and Cyndi Court and Judith Pickens from BGCA had the honor of showcasing the winners’ incredible work –which you can see at the online gallery – and presenting the awards.

    Our future success depends on our children. Organizations like BGCA are having a real positive impact on kids across the country and giving them the opportunity to Be Great. It takes a lot of work, and we need to recognize the passion and commitment of the Clubs’ staff, mentors, parents and volunteers, who along with the kids, bring these communities alive.

    My congratulations to all the competitors and the winners, your passion, energy, enthusiasm and creativity is simply inspiring.

    You can find out more about the event at the BGCA Facebook page.

    Pamela Passman

    Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

  • Unleashing Technology to Advance Social Change

    Technology can be an amazing tool for social and economic development. It can help people get a better education, learn new skills to earn a living wage, or start a business. It can also enable organizations to meet community needs by broadening access to healthcare, education micro-banking and other essential services.

    Technology today has been greatly impacted by the growing connectivity among devices, mobile phones, the PC and the browser. This convergence allows people and organizations to access information and to communicate and collaborate in more powerful ways. It is being driven by a number of factors:

    • The widespread availability of mobile devices (up to 4 billion people now have access to mobile phones)
    • Advances in software with powerful new applications
    • The maturation of the internet as a gateway for “cloud” computing where data and applications are delivered through and run on the web
    • Access to broadband continues to expand in remote places in the world – we’re not there yet, but the trends over the next 3-5 years promise much greater access to broadband connectivity for those throughout the developing world.

    Over the next 3-5 years we will see a new paradigm in computing where the use of devices will be increasingly seamless. You will be able to use your phone, your PC and browser, and even your television in an integrated way, regardless of location.

    This new paradigm offers great potential to improve how we all work, but even greater potential for nonprofits to manage their operations and deliver services more effectively and achieve greater impact for the communities they serve.

    How can these technologies be used by social mission organizations, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and nonprofits to benefit the most vulnerable people in society? I see four new models of social change:

    1. New Business Models – Innovative new ways of doing business for social change are emerging by those nonprofits embracing the cloud. Kiva.org’s development of the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website is facilitating micro-transactions that were previously prohibitively expensive thereby helping alleviate poverty and raise awareness on a different, more personalized, level.
    2. New Service Delivery Models -- Organizations are finding new ways to extend their reach and reduce costs through cloud-based services delivered on intelligent devices. Many communities, especially in impoverished and remote locations, lack sufficient healthcare services. A team led by the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India, is working on a battery-powered diagnostic device, costing less than US$100, which can monitor a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. This device can send the information through a cell phone to a physician hundreds of miles away who can then offer expert diagnostic and treatment advice to the local health care provider.
    3. New Information Exchange Models -- the creation of new models of collecting and sharing information via the cloud results in more transparent, open, group-driven sharing. Effective collaboration is critical in emergency situations that require multiple nonprofits and development agencies to work side by side. Shortly after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May 2008, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) created a web-based collaboration portal for aid workers in the region that enabled more than 100 relief organizations to communicate, share information, manage resources and coordinate with workers in remote or heavily damaged areas.
    4. New Networking Models -- Lastly, new networking models are starting to change the game for the community development sector. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube keep many of us connected to a continuous stream of information. Nonprofits are also seeking to effectively use these powerful tools for social change. Removing barriers to nonprofits telling their stories, making it possible to engage new and different stakeholders who may not have traditionally been engaged without a PC. We are connecting otherwise isolated groups to share information about parenting, cancer recovery, etc.

    These new models hold great promise for the social sector to transform their work and create tremendous impact. The reality is, however, that many nonprofits do not feel prepared to take advantage of these new models.

    Together, we must all take a proactive and methodical approach to ensuring nonprofits are adopting IT effectively and planning appropriately so that they can benefit from the solutions and platforms that will be available and use them to advance social change.

    Editor's Note: a longer paper from Microsoft's Community Affairs team on this topic, entitled Unleashing Technology to Advance Social and Economic Development, is available for download here.

!-- WT MT Inline v.2.0 -->

Explore Our Sites

Microsoft Corporate Citizenship

Our mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

View Site

Microsoft Local Impact Map

Explore the positive impact of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft around the world.

View Site

Microsoft On the Issues Blog

News, perspectives and analysis on legal and policy issues.

View Site