May, 2011

  • Stories from the front lines: Elevate America veterans


    Memorial Day in the United States is a time when we honor and remember the men and women who have bravely served in the U.S. armed forces.  We thought it would be appropriate to share a few stories about how some U.S. veterans and their families are making the transition from military to civilian life. (Pictured Right: Kris Luckinbill, a US Army veteran now studying for a Network Degree at Bellevue College)

    Cheryl Goodwin - The spouse of a National Guard reservist who left her job when her husband was called to active duty. She is building her skills to find new employment after being out of the workforce.

    Gidelina Pineda  - A six year veteran of the Army, who after an honorable discharge, found herself homeless with a small child to care for. Veterans Inc and their specialized program for female veterans has changed their lives.

    Kevin Price – An eight year Army veteran, who, as a single father needed to build his skills utilizing Microsoft technology to stay competitive in a newly acquired civilian job andbe well positioned for his future. 

    Kirk Wharwood After 20 years of service, Kirk needed to supplement his deep knowledge and skill in data communications management with employer and industry recognized certification.

    Kris Luckinbill – A U.S. Army veteran who was deployed to Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Currently enrolled at Bellevue college, plans to complete his Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certificate and bachelor’s degree to help enhance the skills he developed during his military service, for a successful civilian career.

    All of these veterans have one thing in common.  They are all participating in the Microsoft Elevate America veterans initiative.  The program was created to provide U.S. veterans with the skills and resources they need to successfully find civilian employment.  To support these efforts we are providing $2 million in cash plus up to $6 million in software and training curriculum to organizations working directly with veterans in local communities across the country.

    We’ve been fortunate to partner with the six outstanding organizations listed below, each representing a unique program and service model, but all very focused on serving veterans and their spouses across the country. The resources being made available include career counseling, technology skills training, job training resources, job placement and additional support services such as childcare, transportation, and housing. Together, we hope that we can meet the needs of the thousands of veterans and their spouses

    In addition to Elevate America, Microsoft is also focusing on supporting veterans through our own hiring practices. We’ve created a program, called Military2Microsoft, which assists U.S. veterans and those serving in the National Guard and Reserve to transition and find job opportunities within Microsoft. The Military2Microsoft program incorporates a variety of resources online to help make the job search experience easier for military talent.

    We believe that through initiatives like these, there is a great opportunity for the public and private sector to come together and ease the transition process for veterans and to provide more skilled workers for U.S. employers.

    If you would like to help support veterans and their spouses making their transition from the military to the civilian workforce, please feel free to contact any of our partners, listed above, or any of our advisory committee, below, to ask how you can help. And tell them Microsoft sent you.

    Elevate America veterans initiative advisory committee members:

    The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Service Organizations (USO), and the Wounded Warrior Project

  • Tell Your Story with Free Tools in Windows Live Essentials

    Yesterday, Microsoft Community Affairs hosted a webinar for nonprofits to showcase how nonprofits can use the free Windows Live applications and services to tell their stories and engage their supporters. Windows Live Essentials 2011 was launched in September 2010, it’s a suite of free consumer applications that brings Windows to the cloud by helping people connect, create, and share online. The suite is available for free download and includes – among many other tools and services – Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live MovieMaker, Windows Live Mesh (a file sync service), and Windows Live Writer (a blog publishing tool).

    The seminar included live demos by guest speaker, Markus Weickenmeier, a product manager at Microsoft, showing how easy it is for nonprofits to publish multimedia content to popular sites like Flickr, YouTube or Windows Live SkyDrive (25 GB of free storage in the cloud!). To get an idea of what the tools can do, check out this video created by a Microsoft Community Affairs team member using Windows Live MovieMaker to share his visit with a nonprofit in Kenya. clip_image002To learn more about how Windows Live Essentials can help your favorite nonprofit tell its story, visit our Windows Live SkyDrive to download the recorded webinar, view the webinar slides, and find additional links and resources to get started. All the tools shown in the webinar are free and accessible with a Windows Live ID. If you create a story using these tools, tell us about it in the comments of the blog post!

    For more information on how you can register for future (free) webinars by Microsoft Community Affairs, visit http://www.microsoft.com/nonprofit, follow @msftcitizenship on Twitter, or subscribe to TechSoup’s e-newsletter, By the Cup.

     

     

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  • Role models help create the faces of the future

    By Andrea Taylor, director of North America community affairs

    The New York Times ran an article today on the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and their Faces of the Future campaign. The campaign showcases how the Club Tech program gives kids across America access to technology and helps them to develop the technology skills necessary to succeed in school and the job market.

    FOFuture_FBPart of the Faces of the Future campaign is showcasing how children are using technology in the Clubs. There is a story about a boy names Logan, who is a Club member in Oshkosh, Wisconsin that caught my eye. Logan had a background and story similar to many Club kids. He had a difficult family situation and found direction and positive role models at his local BGCA. While he participated in many Club programs he truly exceled in Club Tech activities. After he graduated from high school, Logan returned to his local Club and was hired as the technology advisor, a job where he could mentor the next generation of Club kids in Oshkosh, all while developing his leadership, technology and other job skills that are allowing his passion for technology to develop into a career.

    During my work with BGCA Clubs across the U.S., I’ve come to realize these stories are in every Club throughout the BCGA community. Earlier this year, while I was serving as a judge for the Washington state Youth of the Year competition, I asked the candidates whether and why they would stay engaged with the Club after they graduated and go off to school or work. Almost unanimously, each kid said they absolutely would stay engaged with the Club and that it was mostly because of the staff they had encountered during their time there. One kid even mentioned he wanted to run all BGCAs when he grew up!

    clip_image002With so much “noise” going on in these young lives from home, school or elsewhere, it’s inspiring to hear these kids speak so highly and with so much respect for BGCA staff at their local Clubs. Furthermore, it’s an amazing thing to learn just how far above and beyond the BGCA staff go every single day to ensure their Club kids are safe, happy and engaged. From working long hours, to discovering new fundraising angles, to jumping around playing Dance Central with their Club members (Pictured left: BCGA Staff member at Wallingford Boys and Girls Club in Seattle provides a groovy example for the youth on Dance Central for Kinect), these staff, many of them Club alums like Logan, seem to know just what it takes to keep the more than 4,000 Clubs up, running and a fun place to spend time. They know each kid by name, their likes and dislikes, and what type of day they’re having.

    BGCA and their staff play a vital role in our local communities. So, as we celebrate these Club kid success stories and Faces of the Future at BGCA, we should also pause and deliver a loud round of applause for BGCA staff who are great at their jobs, and serve up inspirational actions to help kids every single day.

    Cheers to you.

    For more information on Microsoft’s Citizenship effort please visit:

    Microsoft.com/Citizenship

    To stay up to date on the latest Citizenship Stories:

    Twitter.com/msftcitizenship (@msftcitizenship)

    Facebook.com/MicrosoftCitizenship

    SHARE this story with those you think could benefit!

  • Facebook Fights Child Exploitation with Microsoft Technology

    Sam Doerr, Public Affairs Manager, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

    Every day, hundreds of millions of photos are shared online – most showcasing people’s lives and loved ones – but hiding among these millions of photos are horrific images of children being sexually tortured and abused.  Tragically, child pornography has grown at an alarming rate, even as the victims are getting younger and the abuse more brutal. Because images of abuse often circulate for years, Microsoft worked closely with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to develop a technology that could effectively and accurately find and remove the worst of the worst images of pre-pubescent sexual abuse known to NCMEC.

    Today, as you may have read in the New York Times Gadgetwise blog, the Official Microsoft Blog or the Microsoft On the Issues Blog , Facebook announced that it is taking a major step in its ongoing fight to find, report, and remove online child exploitation from its network by becoming the first online service provider to join Microsoft in implementing NCMEC’s PhotoDNA program, adding this technology to their arsenal of tools to combat child exploitation on their network.

    Because the distribution of child pornography is not limited to a single online service provider or platform, we hope that Facebook’s adoption of PhotoDNA will encourage other online service providers to consider joining NCMEC’s PhotoDNA program because it will take an industry united against child abuse and exploitation to effectively confront the problem. We can help make it harder for child pornographers to hide online because, while technology may have helped enable the growth of online child pornography, it can also be part of the solution.

    We hope you’ll join Facebook, Microsoft, NCMEC and Dartmouth today on Facebook Live at 3 p.m. ET where you can take part in the discussion on these issues. To learn more about how you can be involved, www.microsoftphotodna.com and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit’s Newsroom.

  • Creating a social network for everyone

    By Gonzalo Bazgan, Community Affairs Lead, Microsoft Argentina & Uruguay

     

    image

    JUAN IGNACIO MANDOLESI AND THE REST OF THE TEAM OF APPLIR 2.0 RECEIVING THE COMPROMISO 2.0 AWARD

    Most of us are counting more on social networks as a fundamental element of our day to day work and lives. We are changing the way we do things and also looking forward to increasing the social impact of our activities. This is possible through the emergence of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter which enable people to share ideas and pictures, easily build communities and communicate with their personal or professional networks.

    Nevertheless, there are still some groups which are left behind by this wave of new technologies, and not just the people who have no access to the Internet. That was the first thought that came to our minds when we heard of APPLIR 2.0, a social network targeted for people with intellectual disabilities.

    ‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0 is a social network specially created and intended for youth with reading and writing disorders. Noted for its simple and original design, this project is the first worldwide social network for people with these challenges (please see screenshot below).

    The ‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0 project was created by the nonprofit APPLIR (an acronym in Spanish for The Rosario Association of Parents for Equality) who won first place in the Compromiso 2.0 contest: Your Innovative Web Idea for Social Transformation. This contest aimed to foster a space of integration and collaboration for developers, designers, technological entrepreneurs and social organizations in Argentina, and was organized by Microsoft together with La Plata Valley (a local network of developers) and the nonprofit Idealistas.org.

    APPLIR was created in 2007 by a group of parents of children with intellectual disabilities who initially intended to address their teenage children’s needs and demands. The project has expanded to raise social awareness of these issues.

    APPLIR 2.0 is built using Microsoft technology provided by the WebsiteSpark and was recognized as one of the best web-based technology programs addressing social issues as part of the ‘Starting Up Responsibly’ program led by La Plata Valley.Out of 200 projects, APPLIR was one of only 10 that were selected for the final round for their innovative nature and social impact.

    Upon receiving the award, Juan Ignacio Mandolesi, developer of ‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0, said: ‘When I found out about the Compromiso 2.0 initiative, I wanted to help my sister and other intellectually disabled young people to gain access to the Internet since this social connections online are becoming increasingly important for everyone and and they were left out. This project brings them online and gets them connected in the world of social networks.’

    Social networks are now core tools in our life and work. As important as they are, these new technologies go beyond the actual tool. The real transformation is the shift in the way people think, form groups, and socialize.

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    The APPLIR Project continues to develop. The next version is currently in beta and will bring new features and support for more people with intellectual challenges.

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