Earlier today United Way presented U.S. Bank with the 2011 Spirit of America award recognizing the company and its employees’ commitment to improving the financial stability of individuals, families and local communities.

Microsoft, along with Bank of America, Procter & Gamble and Dominion Resources received Summit awards for volunteerism and measurable community impact.

Kevin Espirito 5.6.11

Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way, presents Microsoft’s Kevin Espirito (on right) with the company’s Summit award earlier today.

Microsoft was awarded two Summit awards, one for the company’s generosity, and for innovative technology and software programs focused on improving education.

“Microsoft is maximizing all its resources, from financial to software to employee expertise, to improve education and help young people and communities,” said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “Their innovation, creativity and commitment set them apart as a leader and exemplary corporate citizen that is taking measurable steps to create a brighter future for all of us.”

The awards recognized how the company and its employees also creatively leveraged technology and expertise to improve education by:

  • Providing TownHall software and assistance to create an online forum for community conversations around education, raising awareness around United Way’s goal to cut the dropout rate in half.
  • Helping fund the creation of InterroBang, an interactive online game for students that teaches problem solving by giving kids missions to complete in the real world. Microsoft volunteers plus nearly 500 students and parents helped launch the game by creating videos, songs, stories and dances using Microsoft technology at the 2010 United Way Thanksgiving Halftime Show in Detroit.
  • Helping United Way of King County drive an expansion that will ultimately triple the scale of its Parent-Child Home Program, which prepares low-income 3- and 4-year olds for later success in school. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith co-chaired United Way of King County’s $111 million annual fundraising campaign, of which $8.6 million will be used to expand the program.
  • Creating and supporting countless STEM and tech-focused programs, including the Microsoft Math Partnership, professional development for teachers; EduConnect, where employees teach math and tech in schools; Imagine Cup, a creative technology competition for students; Students in Business training; and DreamSpark, free student downloads of software.
  • Volunteering more than 72,490 hours toward education projects and 363,000 hours overall. Since 2006, Microsoft has doubled the number of employees volunteering plus provided $23 million in matching grants, with a $17/hour donation for employees volunteering 10 or more hours.

“At Microsoft, we have a long and proud partnership with United Way that goes back to our first formal community efforts in 1983,” commented Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs. “They are an important part of our commitment to helping create opportunities and solve local challenges in communities across the country and our partnership continues to grow. In 2010, Microsoft and its employees donated more than $14.3 million in cash, software, and in-kind contributions to United Way organizations worldwide, including $3 million in direct employee contributions, plus over 5,000 employees volunteered during the year. We look forward to continuing this valued partnership to help those in need across the United States.”

In addition to campaign donations, Microsoft employees got creative when it came to fundraising, with a companywide charitable auction plus creating and selling a book of original photography to benefit United Way. The tech giant also provided more than $1.7 million in software to the Mary M. Gates Learning Center at United Way Worldwide; the center was named after Bill Gates’ mother, a long-time United Way supporter and board member and is being used for global education and training.

You can find out more about the United Way’s Spirit of America awards here.