Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Last week, Microsoft Community Affairs hosted a Nonprofit Technology Leaders Summit on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington. The summit brought together leaders from a variety of our nonprofit partners, including NetHope, NPower, NTEN, and others. We spent two days discussing the role technology plays in the work of nonprofits around the world. This included looking at the potential opportunities for nonprofits to take advantage of powerful new and existing technologies that can positively impact their work. Along with a series of lectures attendees also spent valuable time talking together about how to more effectively bridge the gap between the ‘techies’ and ‘non-techies’ within their organizations. There were also a lot of opportunities for getting hands-on with new tools during a number of “speed geek” sessions - think rapid-fire-speed-dating-meets-technology demonstrations!
NPower Seattle’s Alison Carl White has shared a good summary of the event on the NPower Seattle blog, discussing the importance of technology leadership to an organization and the incredibly important role that data - and the sharing thereof - will play in tackling significant social challenges.
Timothy DeChant with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation discusses the important role of new and existing cloud technologies, including Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Online, and Windows Azure.
Walt Carter, COO of TechBridge highlights some of the technologies we showcased, including Silverlight, DeepZoom, and data visualization tools in Bing Maps and the Local Impact Map. He also shared some perspective on the opportunity to see what Microsoft is doing in the nonprofit space and to be part of the discussion to influence the direction of Microsoft investments in that space.
Opportunities to meet with a group of knowledgeable, capable nonprofit leaders are one of the highlights of the work community affairs does around the world, and spending two days learning with -- and from -- these individuals is a good reminder of the central role technology plays in the work we all do. As both Tim and Walt mention in their videos, there is great value in practitioners hearing and learning from other practitioners about what is working in the “real world” in which they all operate.
If you’re interested in learning more about these types of events and following the conversation around them, be sure to follow us at @msftcitizenship. We’ll be hosting the Washington State Tech for Good event this Friday, February 4th with NPower Seattle. Beth Kanter will be speaking. Virtual registrations are available for a number of sessions, but you must pre-register (its free). You can also follow the Twitter conversation online at #WATech4Good.
Interested in a software donation to empower your nonprofit with technology? Check out our software donations page.
Back in September we launched 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. We had an incredible response with over 300 nonprofits applying for grants through our request for proposal process.
This is the latest extension of Elevate America, which was launched in February 2009 to provide people across the United States with no cost and low cost access to the technology skills they need to find employment. Since the program’s launch we have worked with 32 states and the District of Columbia to distribute nearly 900,000 no cost Microsoft training and certification vouchers. Last year we announced the Elevate America Veterans initiative, which focuses on working with nonprofits to address the specific challenges facing U.S. veterans and their spouses in their transition from military to civilian employment.
Bonnie, Wayne, Janice, Jesse and Jim have all benefitted from training through Elevate America you can find out more at the Elevate America website.
It’s clear that the demand for the technology skills people need to prepare for employment is as high as ever. Since 2003, we have worked with nonprofit organizations through our Unlimited Potential initiative to support technology skills training in underserved communities across the United States. These programs have reached more than 27 million people to date and we know the core success factor is partnership. Addressing the issues of skills is about working with organizations with a presence and knowledge of the local community.
Our approach to the selection of Elevate America community initiative grant recipients was to find partners with a strong track record in the provision of training services, who bring fresh thinking to how we address the issue of helping people get into the workforce. We want to support local community models that can be successfully replicated elsewhere and specifically address the needs of women and young workers (ages 18-25) who have greater barriers to employment, as well as the broader population.
We received over 300 applications from outstanding organizations across the country. In order to review the large number of proposals we commissioned a team of 13 workforce experts to participate in the evaluation process. After several iterations of review and discussion our team selected 27 finalists to participate in phone interviews. Following this we were able to identify 12 organizations to receive over $5 million in Elevate America community initiative funding over the next two years.
Reviewing the proposals provided a valuable insight into the incredible work underway in communities across the country. Trying to settle on a shortlist was incredibly difficult, but we’re satisfied that we have identified twelve organizations who will deliver high-impact programs:
In addition to providing these organizations with $5 million in cash over the next two years, we are also committing up to $10 million in software to all of the organizations that applied to the Elevate America community initiative grant process, to both recognize and support the important work they are doing to help people in their local communities.
We are looking forward to working closely with these organizations over the next two years as we continue to focus on giving people the skills they need to find employment.
Online training resources
You can find more information about Elevate America and the no cost and low cost training and education resources we offer to help people develop better technology skills for the jobs of the 21st century workforce please visit: http://www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica
Maria Nicolacoudis, executive director at TransAccess
TransAccess, a Bay Area nonprofit organization, helps youth and adults with disabilities to achieve their goals. In partnership with local schools, government agencies, and businesses, we provide individualized assessments, career and job placement assistance, adaptive technology, and more. Since 1997, TransAccess has served 10,800 youth and adults with disabilities through direct services. Our programs include the Access Technology Center, giving persons with disabilities the opportunity to identify, evaluate, and train on the latest computer adaptive technologies; the School-to-Future Program providing tools and support for students to further their education and prepare for employment and Access-to-Jobs, an employment service for persons with disabilities.
Computer training is vital for just about every job that will be in demand in the coming decade. We provide training that empowers persons with disabilities to work in a variety of careers, and continue vocational learning if they choose. Through our partnership with Microsoft we have expanded our services to more youth and adults with disabilities. Microsoft has provided software and financial support that allows us to integrate computer use training while we are teaching job preparation skills such as resume writing, web based job search skills, budgeting and presentation skills. Microsoft support has also increased our ability to provide assistive technology training, integrated with basic computer skills. The assistive technology training is critical for so many individuals with disabilities who need accommodations to use a computer to be successful in school or at work.
Our clients goals are to achieve success in their education and careers, Melissa, a good example of someone who completed our pre-employment and job placement services, which were integrated with the technology provided by Microsoft states: ”TransAccess has helped me find employment by helping me understand what employers look for and expect from an employee.” TransAccess started working with Melissa during her sophomore year. She was interested in working, but did not know where to begin. TransAccess assisted Melissa in identifying her career goals, transferable skills as well as skill she would need to acquire for her future profession. Through our classes, she learned Microsoft Office skills while she learned how to create a resume, cover letters and a career portfolio. She developed professional communication skills which she used successfully to network with employers and self-advocate for any accommodations she might need. Through TransAccess’ assistance, Melissa was able to conduct a job search, obtain and maintain employment, pursue her educational goals and obtain her driver’s license. She is currently attending a community college pursuing a degree in nursing and working at a local retail store. Melissa will also be volunteering at a clinic where she will be getting basic nursing skills.
Like Microsoft, we also understand that the community is the other side of the equation of success. Our services extend to employers and other community organizations to meet the diverse needs of persons with disabilities in our area. We train their staff in how to provide appropriate accommodations, disability awareness, and the use of assistive technology.
We are most proud of the real results we have for our clients. Melissa summed it up well when she told us:
“TransAccess has impacted my life by providing information about school and work. I have learned a lot and continue to learn something I will use on a day to day basis.”
Watch a mini-documentary on TransAccess and our work at: http://transaccess.org/news_events/video.php
Maria Nicolacoudis is the executive director at TransAccess.
Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Aron Cramer, CEO of Business for Social Responsibility following Richard Edelman’s session on the findings of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.
Aron was kind enough to share his views on the importance of trust for businesses today.
Watch the video and share your thoughts on trust as it relates to business, government, and corporate social responsibility. Feel free to comment below or talk to us @msftcitizenship on Twitter.
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