June, 2011

  • Joining Forces to Increase Job Opportunities for Military Spouses

    By: Chris Cortez - MajGen, USMC (Ret.), General Manager, Microsoft Strategic Operations, Americas and Asia Pacific

    Cross posted from the FutureFed Blog

    Today, I was proud to represent both my country and my employer, Microsoft, by standing in support of military families at “Joining Forces: Launching the Military Spouse Employment Partnership” which took place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Joining Forces is a program First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden launched in April to support the “force behind the forces.” A key focus is improving job opportunities for military spouses.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes initiative hosts Dr. Jill Biden – co-chair of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative – and the Department of Defense to launch the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) with Deborah Mullen and Kevin Schmiegel. (Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

    Today’s event was a powerful and meaningful display of commitment. We heard Dr. Biden and Dr. Clifford Stanley, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, reinforce the significance of supporting military spouses.

    The Defense Department acknowledges that finding employment is a huge challenge for many military spouses. Currently, military spouses face an unemployment rate of 28 percent – nearly three times the national average. What’s worse, they earn an average of 25 percent less than civilian spouses. The President’s Strengthening Our Military Families (PSD-9) report, signed last January, identified increasing opportunities for private-sector and Federal careers for military spouses as an important national goal.

    As her husband, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched from the audience, Debbie Mullen noted to a packed room of military and business leaders that of all the causes on which the First and Second Ladies of this country could focus, they have chosen military families. That alone brings together critical backing for the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Program launched today.

    MSEP will directly connect military spouses with organizations specifically looking to hire them. The program expands the Army Spouse Employment Partnership (ASEP), which had 57 corporate partners, to all the branches of the military, adding 15 new corporate partners today. Microsoft is proud to stand as one of these partners to build on the success that ASEP has had in hiring more than 100,000 military spouses since its 2003 launch.

    Our participation in this partnership underscores Microsoft’s commitment to veterans and their families. Our Military2Microsoft program assists U.S. veterans and those serving in the National Guard and Reserve to transition and find job opportunities within Microsoft. This program incorporates a variety of resources online to help make the job search experience easier for military talent. Last year, we launched Microsoft Elevate America Veterans initiative, to provide U.S. veterans and their spouses with the skills and resources they need to successfully find civilian employment.

    As we showcased this past Memorial Day on the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Blog, veterans are successfully participating in the program to advance their careers and improve their quality of life. It’s stories like these that remind us how essential this support is, and it’s why in 2010, we committed to providing $2 million in cash and up to $6 million in software and training to organizations working directly with veterans in local communities across the country over the following two years. Microsoft’s participation in MSEP continues this tradition.

    For photos from today’s event, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Hiring Our Heroes” Flickr page.

    For more information on MSEP and how to get involved, please visit :

    Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS.aspx

    News on the Initiative: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64438

  • Envisioning Business at its Best

    ‘Envisioning Business at its Best’ is the timely theme for the annual Corporate Philanthropy Summit that begins today, a key program sponsored by the New York-based Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. Over the next two days CECP members, practitioners, thought leaders, government officials and experts in corporate and social engagement will examine their strategies, programs and partnerships and grapple with the overarching question of the impact of this work on the important societal challenges facing communities around the world.

    During a pre-summit event, the CECP research team provided a brief overview of Trends in Corporate Giving extracted from data from the Corporate Giving Standard (CGS) Survey analysis in May 2011. Somewhat surprisingly, the research found that total giving increased among 54% of companies who gave more in 2010 than they had before the economic downturn.  Aggregate total giving among companies that participated in the survey reached its highest level yet - $13 billion, up from $10.53 billion in 2007 and $10.99 billion in 2009. More details about the trends and data analysis are available through CESP's website.

    CECP,  which has expanded its membership beyond the U.S. to include 15 other countries, is an important international forum to share best practices, promote thought leadership and connect with likeminded individuals committed to help achieve and maintain excellence in corporate citizenship and philanthropy.  Microsoft is among the nearly 170 participating companies attending this year’s conference, as we’ve done previously. Like many of our peers, we hope to gain new insights about solutions to challenges that keep us awake at night and achieving excellence and impact. Mainly, we pivot around issues of responsible stewardship of the diverse resources and tools at our disposal and effective grantmaking and partnerships that make a difference to people and communities.

    This year, Microsoft is also proud to sponsor the webcast of CECP’s 11th Annual Excellence Awards in Corporate Philanthropy to be awarded later today.  More than 20 companies and nonprofits have been the recipients since 2000, selected by a diverse awards jury.  This year’s winner of the Chairman’s Award is The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. for 10,000 Women, a five–year $100 million initiative to provide 10,000 underserved women with a business and management education; the President’s Award is Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Secure the Future (STF) Technical Assistance and Skills Transfer Program (TAP) that extends the impact of the Foundation’s pioneering $160 million Secure the Future program addressing HIV/AIDS in Africa, launched in 1999, and DonorsChoose.org in partnership with Crate and Barrel, to help students in need in schools across America.

  • Helping Sick Children Conquer Their Everest

    Everest_ST2010_02_CHRISTINE_46

    The staff at A Chacun Son Everest (“Each has their own Everest”) can’t move mountains, but they can give sick children the opportunity to climb and conquer them, and for more than 17 years, they’ve been doing just that.

    A Chacun Son Everest is a French nonprofit organization (NPO) started by doctor and alpinist Christine Janin in 1994. Christine witnessed how children who have serious illnesses are all too often defined by their illness—both in their own minds and in the minds of others. She started the organization to arrange mountain-climbing trips for these children. The trips help kids get past their identity of being sick and get them into the fighting spirit by testing their internal strength. These liberating experiences are often catalysts that motivate children to face their illnesses with optimism.

    Everest 62For example, for a recent climb, one of the children, Antonin, “appeared on the station platform radiant and full of energy. It was a long time since anyone had seen that much light in his eyes.” The inspiration Antonin got from his climb will stay with him as he battles his illness.

    However, like many nonprofits, A Chacun Son Everest recognized that new technology could increase the efficiency of the organization and enable them to bring more children on more trips.

    The organization turned to AdB-SolidaTech, the TechSoup Global partner in France, to access Microsoft software through the nonprofit donation program. A Chacun Son Everest received a donation of Windows and Office, which helped them greatly improve trip coordination—coordination vital both on the mountain and in the office. Their updated email management and scheduling tools provide for better inter-office collaboration, which translated to smoother and safer climbs and more efficient communication and coordination with the families of children on the climbs.

    Furthermore, the software donation meant that A Chacun Son Everest could focus its precious resources on something equally precious. “All the funds saved by the organization have made more activities possible and have helped more ill children participate in the mountain trips,” says Carole Herbert, Assistant Director of A Chacun Son Everest.

    After conquering his own Everest, Marion beamed, “I left [for the trip] worried, but I’m back and I conquered change. Thank you to the entire team for welcoming me so kindly and giving me confidence in myself.”

    Everest_ST2010_04_484

    The needs of children battling disease drive outing options for A Chacun Son Everest. Choices are based on age, sporting ability, and the evolution of the illness. Options are exciting—snowshoeing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, alpine hiking, canoeing and wall climbing.

    Microsoft is proud to help organizations like A Chacun Son Everest move proverbial mountains. To learn more about free or donated resources for nonprofits around the world, visit www.microsoft.com/nonprofit.

  • How technology is helping German parents and children in need

    Nestwarme familyNestwärme e.V. Deutschland was founded in 1999 to help the nearly one million families in Germany caring for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Over 1,400 volunteers and more than 80 employees help take care of the children, which gives parents much-needed time for themselves. Whether it’s going to the doctor, running errands or simply taking a nap, parents get the time to do things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.

    With so many families to help, Nestwärme was becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cases to manage and track. Staff and volunteers needed to remain in constant communication and information-exchange mode; however much of the information they needed was scattered throughout countless emails that had to be combed through time and time again. Working this way was wasting time that could be spent providing much needed support to Nestwarme families. The organization realized that improving their use of technology could help them.

    Nestwärme turned to Stifter-helfen.de – IT for Nonprofits, TechSoup Global’s partner in Germany, who were able to provide them with a software donation from Microsoft to address these issues and support their expanding work, including: Windows Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server, Windows 7 and Office 2010.

    Using these donated products, Nestwärme was able to develop a Client Relationship Management system to act as the data warehouse where all relevant info and emails regarding families are stored. Now, the entire distributed team has access to this nationwide client database. The new software also enabled Nestwärme to improve its coordination of appointments between volunteers and families, to better manage volunteers’ time, and to streamline access to official forms that help families get state support for therapy and medical devices. All of which means families get faster and more thorough help.

    As any parent knows, even the smallest amount of help makes a big difference. But Nestwärme is aiming to offer much more than a little help, and having the right technology tools in place is a key part of that. Microsoft is proud to help nonprofit organizations like Nestwärme pursue their missions. For information about software donations for a nonprofit you support, visit www.microsoft.com/nonprofit.

  • Kinect’ing people in Korea through gaming

    Chan Kwon, community affairs manager, Microsoft Korea

    Chan_post_kinect

    It is always really cool when our community partners take a new technology and find a way to make it work to help them deliver their own mission. There have been lots of examples of technologies like mobile phones or PCs being used and sometimes we forget about gaming-not anymore!

    Last month Microsoft Korea in partnership with the Korean Institute of the Disabled for Independent Living held the “Kinect Contest for People with Severe Disabilities” to provide people with disabilities, most of whom use wheelchairs, with the opportunity to use the Xbox 360 with a Kinect sensor to enjoy sports games they had never thought to be able to play.

    The idea actually came from the Institute. They had already seen, in an informal way, the possibility of rehabilitation benefits of using the Kinect sensor after Microsoft Korea had donated an Xbox 360 and Kinect package earlier in the year. The contest became a real cross-group effort with Microsoft staff working with Microsoft’s local Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) – a community of individuals outside Microsoft who are experts and community leaders in Microsoft technology - volunteer their time to make the event a success. In addition the Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business of Microsoft Korea updated Xbox 360 Kiosks with Kinect, so that people with disabilities could easily enjoy playing with the technology.

    The result of the contest went far beyond anything either Microsoft Korea or the Institute expected. The participants immediately got immersed in the games from bowling and boxing, which created a real feeling of energy in the room with the audience and volunteers also getting involved cheering and applauding.

    There were two prizes of an Xbox 360 with a Kinect sensor, one for an organization supporting people with disabilities and one for an individual winner. The prizes were awarded by Hyoungjin Shin, an amazing man who operates a computer with his eyes lying in the bed and has just graduated Yonsei University.

    The event showcased that technology doesn’t just provide people with severe disabilities with access to communication and knowledge, but to fun and entertainment as well.

    For more stories from Microsoft Korea, check out the Local Impact Map.

    For more information on Microsoft’s Citizenship effort please visit Microsoft.com/Citizenship

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