December, 2010

  • Top five Microsoft Citizenship posts of 2010

    As the year comes to an end it’s a great opportunity to both look forward to the coming year and review what’s happened over the past twelve months.

    We thought it would be interesting to highlight the top stories on the blog for 2010 as voted by our readers through their visits.

    It presents an interesting review of the year.


    #1 Software donations: Microsoft Office 2010:

    One of the big events for Microsoft during the year was the launch of Office 2010. During the summer we got together with TechSoup to present an 80 minute webinar on how Microsoft Office 2010 can help nonprofits. You can watch a recording here.

    Over the past twelve months we’ve donated software to over 40,000 nonprofit organizations so don’t forget you can avail of software donations for your nonprofit here.


    #2 Celebrating U.S. Veterans

    In early November, we celebrated Veterans Day in the United States by focusing on the incredible work being done to help U.S. Veterans get back into the civilian workforce.

    We took over Microsoft Citizenship website for the week and were able to publish a host of incredible blog posts which provided insights into not only the challenges veterans face, but the work being done to address those challenges.

    We also announced the six nonprofit grant recipients as part of our Elevate America veterans initiative.

    The six  organizations are:

    • Able-Disabled Advocacy, Inc., San Diego, CA; San Diego VetWORKS
    • Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA; Project Succeed
    • Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont Inc, Charlotte, NC; Elevate America's veterans initiative
    • Gulf Coast Workforce Board, Panama City, FL; Mission: 21st Century (M:21c)
    • Per Scholas INC., New York, NY; Microsoft Veterans Employment Project
    • Veterans Inc., Worcester, MA; Veterans Inc. Employment & Training Program


    #3 Elevate America community initiative

    In September we announced the Elevate America community initiative, a new grant program to support nonprofit organizations offering employment services, including technology skills training and job placement, in local communities across the United States. Microsoft is committing $4 million in cash and $6 million in software and technology skills training curriculum to support nonprofits in the United States over the next two years. The nonprofit recipients will be announced in the New Year.


    #4 Microsoft 2010 Citizenship report

    In October we released our 2010 Citizenship report which provides a detailed review of Microsoft’s Citizenship programs and our progress in 2010.

    As Dan Bross noted: “As a company, we have signed up for a lot. We have endorsed the UN Millennium Development Goals and the UN Global Compact and you can see how we’re doing in meeting those commitments in this report. We’re also reporting using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework – to help readers evaluate our progress against that of other companies.”


    #5 Haiti

    It’s hard to believe that the tragic events in Haiti took place nearly one year ago, events that rallied the world. As Akhtar noted at the time:

    “We are also seeing an inspiring outpouring of support from people in the United States and around the world.  Ordinary citizens are texting their support to the Red Cross and other organizations to ensure that there are enough funds for relief efforts.  An amazing amount of money already has been collected.  This is the time to come together and work in a coordinated fashion to support the relief efforts and ensure that the donated funds are put to the best use for the people of Haiti, both in the short-term and in the long run.”

    Of course the critical relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti continue.



    As we reviewed the most popular posts for the year, we were surprised to discover that the sixth most popular story was about deep sea archaeology and how the Octopus Deep-Sea Archeology Research Association is using technology to bring the treasures they discover below the sea to a broader audience.


    On behalf of the Citizenship team at Microsoft we wish you a happy and successful 2011. We’re looking forward to talking with you over the next twelve months, and don’t forget you can keep in touch us via Twitter (@msftcitizenship) and Facebook and find more about our programs at the Microsoft Citizenship website

  • Austria´s National IT-Fitness Initiative takes up on a big challenge!

    Have you ever heard the EU Digital Agenda?

    If you are based in or interested in the European Market of almost 500 million people you probably should.

    This strategic document covers the main directions of the ICT policy of the European Union for the next 5 years. One of its seven pillars talks explicitly about “Enhancing e-Skills” and suggests activities tackling the problem of the digital divide but also of employment. A recent EU study discovered that by 2014 nine from ten jobs won´t be accessible for applicants without sufficient IT skills. That´s definitely a call to action not only for governments but also for business and civil society towards better education and training of the relevant target audiences.

    2.6.1. Digital literacy and skills

    It is essential to educate European citizens to use ICT and digital media and particularly to attract youngsters to ICT education. The supply of ICT practitioner and e-business skills, i.e. the digital skills necessary for innovation and growth, needs to be increased and upgraded. In addition, given there are 30 million women between the ages of 15-24, it is necessary to improve the attractiveness of the ICT sector for professional use and in particularly for the production and design of technology. All citizens should be made aware of the potential of ICT for all kind of professions. This calls for multi-stakeholder partnerships, increased learning, recognition about digital competences in formal education and training systems, as well as awareness raising and effective ICT training and certification outside formal education systems, including the use of online tools and digital media for re-skilling and continuing professional development43. Based on the experience gained from the first "European e-Skills Week" (1-5 March 2010)44, the Commission will support the in 2010 and thereafter, national and European awareness raising activities with a view to promote ICT education, careers and jobs to young people as well as to foster digital literacy among citizen and ICT training for the workforce and the adoption of best practices.

    Microsoft Austria has taken up on this challenge and initiated the National IT-Fitness Initiative, which enjoys broad support by Austrian government and institutions, including Austrian Ministry of Education, Austrian Ministry of Social, Labor and Consumer Interests, the Austrian Labor Market Service, the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Chamber of Commerce, the Austrian Industry Association and NGOs like the Austrian Computing Society or Big players from the IT industry including HP, Cisco and T-Systems are also partners.

    So far more than 31,000 Austrians have already participated in the IT-Fitness Check at the webpage and took the opportunity to look for further learning opportunities at the web portal, including blended learning courses and free online trainings for improving their e-skills. The webpage offers tailored services and information for three areas of life – school, work and spare time.

    Recently the initiative shared its latest initiatives at a press conference with the Minister of Social, Labor and Consumer Interests. The Austrian Labor Service revealed a new IT training initiative for unemployed people and the partner announced new trainings for seniors, where students are teaching seniors as part of their education at school. A pretty smart approach in my humble opinion.

    Federal Minister for Social, Labor and Consumer Interests, Rudolf Hundstorfer and Petra Jenner, GM Microsoft Austria at Press Conference IT-Fitness Initiative

    At this press conference Microsoft Austria also launched the "FIT Your Town Contest", looking for the "IT-fittest" city or municipality in Austria. The competition will last until end of January 2011. Based on the zip-code of the participants of the self-check test, the winning city will be detected and awarded with a full featured PC including hard- and software and the consultancy for the start of a “Smart-Mice” Kindergarten which includes training and support for the special “Smart-Mice” software from Microsoft.

    You will find the IT-Fitness Initiative also on Facebook.

    Thomas Lutz is the PR and Public Affairs Manager at Microsoft Austria

  • Does technology help you make an impact in your community?

    Enter the Tech for Good Contest for Nonprofits and Libraries in WA State

    After more than ten years of working in and around the nonprofit sector in Washington State, there is no doubt in my mind that technology is helping organizations to increase their impact in our communities. There is also no doubt in my mind that surfacing and sharing the successful examples of this impact is hard! But sharing examples of your successful use of technology with other nonprofits is so important. It can help others in the sector be inspired and learn from your examples, and can help demonstrate to funders and stakeholders the social return on technology investment.

    That’s where the 2011 Tech for Good Contest comes in. Sure, sharing successes takes time and effort… But if you take the time to tell us how you are using Microsoft software to create impact in your communities, we will make it worth your effort!

    About the Contest

    Together with TechSoup, Microsoft is excited to announce the 2011 Tech for Good Contest for nonprofits and public libraries in Washington State. Submissions open today and are accepted on a rolling basis until just before midnight (Pacific time) on Tuesday, January 18th. Share how you’re using Microsoft software to engage your stakeholders and make a difference in your community, and you could ring in the New Year with some great prizes!

    The winners will receive a $5,000 unrestricted cash grant, up to $100,000 worth of donated Microsoft software, consulting services donated by NPower Seattle, and more!

    Submissions Open: December 20, 2010, 9 a.m. Pacific time

    Submissions Close: January 18, 2011, 12 a.m. Pacific time

    Public Winners Announcement: by February 7, 2011, 10 a.m. Pacific time

    Shout it from the rooftops!

    It’s the time of year for resolutions and new beginnings. Let’s resolve to surface more examples of how Washington’s nonprofits and public libraries are using technology to create meaningful impact in our communities. I hope you’ll enter and shout your tech success from the proverbial rooftop!

    Read the full contest rules and prep your contest entry at I look forward to learning from your tech success!

    And don’t forget your nonprofit can avail of software donations from Microsoft. Find out more here.

  • Cultivating the future of CSR, MBA students debate the issues with Microsoft

    One of the great things about my job is that I get to regularly talk with students across the country about Corporate Citizenship.  Recently I had the opportunity to talk with students a little closer to home when I was at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to work with a few classes of aspiring MBA scholars.

    (Pictured Below: University of Washington's PACCAR Building, Foster School of Business)


    I delivered a presentation to Scott Reynolds’ Ethical Leadership classes on the role of business in society and talked about the expectations various countries have related to corporate responsibility in addressing social issues.  I always enjoy sharing the work we are doing at Microsoft in the area of corporate citizenship (aka CSR), but more importantly, I get the opportunity to challenge the students to think about ethical leadership within the context of corporate responsibility.  Theory is of course one thing, but thinking about these issues in a real-world context presents a more realistic perspective.



    Scott gave the students a challenge.


    “Divide into teams. Each team will be assigned a country, they will research that country’s local  governmental needs and societal challenges, as well as Microsoft’s current local Citizenship efforts.  Following that research each team will craft a CSR plan that maps to Microsoft Citizenship’s mission.” 


    The point of this role playing is to bring these issues and opportunities to life while encouraging students to think through specific issues and solutions on a global and local level. Furthermore, it gives the students freedom to imagine utilizing resources from a major corporation to help solve worldly issues.

    (Pictured below: Dan Bross, Scott Reynolds pre-class discussion)

    There was a fantastic dynamic in these sessions.  Each presenting team was challenged by their classmates.  This debating approach created a great environment that forced every student to thoroughly prepare and think through their ideas. The challenging confrontations are a major part of what makes programs like these successful; it brings me great joy in facilitating such a test.


    Over the two days of presentations, I listened to, eight teams representing 8 different countries from Europe to Asia and South America. While all of the presentations were well thought out and executed, perhaps one of the most provocative discussions was during the French team’s presentation.


    I am not sure if it was the official Microsoft job titles they gave themselves, or the outlandish riot slides, but this team had a sense of humor that kept the class’s attention while they tacked the problem statement: "Tech sector is doing ok, the recession is not nearly as bad, but people are still unhappy, so how we get to a happy place?" Their solutions lead to thought provoking questions and discussions between the students:


    Stated Problem:




    Student team France solution:


    Provide 500,000 IT Certifications for the unemployed and  partner with NGOs to train those people (for reference, you can find Microsoft Citizenship’s workforce development resources here)


    Challenging questions:


    Audience: "Do you think certifying 500k people will dilute the credibility of the certification in the eyes of employers looking to hire?"


    Presenter Response: "Do you think certifying 500k in a country of 65 million is really diluting credibility?"


    Audience:  "In the IT sector specifically, it's possible…"


    Me: “Do you think we have enough resources to train all of those people?”


    Presenter: “Of course, we are Microsoft” (I’m not sure our community affairs team would sign up for this target J)


    The conversation continued with both the audience and the presenters bringing valid points to the table and really bringing the issue to life.


    Conversations and exercises such as these have the potential to reveal deep seeded problems and further the conversation as to what the roles of corporations in a social setting should be.


    It’s both thought provoking and inspiring to hear the the potential leaders of tomorrow evaluating and analyzing solutions to pressing economic and social issues.


    So here’s a question for you.


    What’s your view of these exercises?


    What other scenarios or suggestions do you have?


    As I meet with business school students around the country I’d love to expand the conversation and if you’ve any ideas, then let me know!


    To learn more about Microsoft Citizenship click here

  • Helping American Veteran Families in Need

    While the holiday season is a time of joy for many people, it is also a time when we are reminded of the many American families who are struggling – not just during the holidays, but all year long. We were glad to be part of an effort to help one such family today.

    The Meyer family of Newton, Iowa, was hit hard by the recession. Todd Meyer, a Navy veteran who served in the Gulf War, is about to be laid off from his job. His wife, Teresa, is working two jobs to be able to keep their daughter Caitlin in college and keep food on the table. They also have two other kids, ages 10 and 17. On today’s episode of “The Talk,” CBS surprised the Meyers with a donation from The Sunshine Lady Foundation to help support Caitlin and her sister’s education. We joined in on the holiday surprise by teaming with the US Communications Sector, OEM, and Entertainment & Devices teams to give the family Microsoft technologies to help them connect, learn, work and play – a 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor bundle, new Windows 7 PCs with Office 2010, and new Windows Phone 7s for the whole family.

    Also, we are supporting the Meyers with vouchers for Microsoft trainings and certifications to give the kids new skills to help them succeed in school and help give Todd new technology skills and certifications that can help him be more competitive in the job market. RJ Naugle, who leads Microsoft's Military Veteran Outreach and Recruiting Program, We Still Serve, is volunteering to provide guidance and advice to Todd to help him with his job search.

    Unfortunately, the Meyer’s situation is all too common today and veterans, in particular, have been hit hard by the recession. Over the past six months, the average unemployment rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been 16 percent higher than the rate for nonveterans (10.7 percent compared with 9.2 percent). This is one of the reasons Microsoft launched the Elevate America Veterans initiative last month to help provide our country’s veterans and their spouses with the skills and resources needed for success in today’s workplace. We look forward to supporting more veteran families through this program and other families through Microsoft’s Elevate America initiative. 

    To learn more about resources available to veterans, visit To learn about Microsoft’s Elevate America tools and resources to build your technology skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow, visit


    Mario Rebello, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft United States Public Sector

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