Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
On this blog we often talk about the next generation of Social Entrepreneurs and the ways in which people are aiming to solve the toughest global issues through the use of technology. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a panel of entrepreneurs on our Redmond campus to hear firsthand how they are investing their time, energy and resources for positive change.
Given the limited space at the event, we recorded the discussion for your viewing pleasure. The panel runs about one hour so pull up a comfortable chair and enjoy.
A bit about the panel…
Moderator: Stefan Weitz, Senior Director at Bing. You can follow Stefan on Twitter @StefanWeitz.
Panelist: Adam Braun – Pencils of Promise: As a college student traveling across the globe, Adam asked a small boy begging on the streets of India what he wanted most in the world. The answer: a pencil. That encounter inspired Adam to start Pencils of Promise (Pop) in October 2008 with a mere $25 in hopes of building one school in Laos. The movement that grew out of the Pop approach of nonprofit idealism and for-profit business accountability soon encouraged Adam to leave his job at Bain & Company and work exclusively on realizing the Pop dream. Today, that dream has manifested into more than 40 schools in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala. In creating a dedicated community of over 250,000 members, PoP has become a leader in social media engagement, sustainable development, youth empowerment and digital innovation. You can follow Pencils of Promise on Twitter: @pencilsofpromis.
Panelist: Sean Carasso – Falling Whistles: An avid adventurer, Sean left college early to travel the world with John Paul DeJoria and with every step wanted to see more. In 2008 he went to South Africa on a TOMS Shoe Drop and traveled north into the Democratic Republic of Congo. There he learned of children sent to the front lines of war, armed with only a whistle. That night he wrote a small journal called Falling Whistles that was forwarded around the world. He received thousands of emails asking, what can we do? The Falling Whistles campaign was born with a simple response - make their weapon your voice and be a whistleblower for peace. Out of his garage-office in Venice California, FW has partnered with local leaders in Congo to rehabilitate hundreds of women and children and is creating a global coalition for peace in our world's deadliest war. You can follow Falling Whistles on Twitter: @fallingwhistles.
Panelist: Matthew Segal co-founded OUR TIME in 2011 to channel the consumer power and voting strength of Americans under 30 in a united membership organization. In building OUR TIME, Matthew merged the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE), a voting rights campaign he founded in college, with Declare Yourself, a national civic engagement organization founded by Norman Lear, which registered nearly 4 million young Americans to vote. In early 2009, Matthew co-founded the 80 Million Strong Coalition, the largest campaign of organizations in the United States that addressed youth unemployment and other economic challenges facing individuals under 30. In this capacity, Matthew spearheaded a national jobs summit of hundreds of young leaders, provided testimony to the House Education and Labor Committee, and was the only youth representative invited to attend President Obama's conference on jobs and economic growth. Matthew is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, is frequently quoted in the press, and appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC. Twitter: @OurTimeorg
Panelist: James Marshall Reilly is the author of the book Shake the World, which focuses on the job market, social entrepreneurship, business in the 21st century, philanthrocapitalism, and the change generation, will be released by Penguin/Portfolio in December, 2011. The book features interviews with many of the top young game-changers in the world, from Tony Hsieh (Zappos) and Doug Ulman (CEO & President of LIVESTRONG) to Elizabeth McKee Gore (Executive Director of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation) and Shawn Fanning (Napster, Rupture, Path...) among many, many more. The text explores the career marketplace and how a new generation is embracing technology and a shift in values and consciousness to trigger social change and ultimately achieve success, however individually defined. Reilly is an entrepreneur, social commentator, and connector. He is 29 years old and lives in New York City.
Derrick McCourt, Regional Manager, Microsoft
Our Citizenship work is a great way of enabling our people to work together outside their day-to-day teams. I am immensely proud of the track record the team here is building up.
In Scotland one of our community partners is nonprofit Aberlour. Founded in 1875, Aberlour is the largest Scottish children's charity. They provide help to over 6,000 of Scotland's most vulnerable children, young people and their families each year. They have over 700 staff working across Scotland in more than 40 service centers, helping children and young people who need additional care and support to achieve their potential and to live safe and fulfilling lives.
Microsoft with paint brushes to the ready at Aberlour’s Borders Options service
It’s fair to say you don’t work at Microsoft without having a passion for technology, and the myriad ways it can help people and organizations to realize their full potential. What struck us in our early meetings with Aberlour was that they share a similar level of passion – in their case a passion to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people. They’re a forward thinking organization with a strong vision of how technology could transform the effectiveness and reach of their work. They combine this vision with a tremendous commitment and enthusiasm to make it happen. Add to this our shared commitments to Scotland and it was easy to see why this partnership felt like a great fit from our first meetings.
Central to our partnership with Aberlour has been a donation of Microsoft software and IT expertise to enable dramatic improvements in their efficiency, freeing up staff time to work with greater numbers of vulnerable children. The key projects include:
· Implementing a customer relationship management system to support record keeping and better record capture outcomes for children. This enables service improvements, best practice sharing and more effective influencing of policy issues.
· Use of management information for informed decision making, improving tenders and applications for funding, enabling better responses to the complex needs of children in care.
· Improving communication, enabling smarter working practices, reducing costs and improving efficiency for Aberlour’s 700 staff across 48 sites.
In the first year of deployment, Aberlour have made savings on travel expenditure of £120,000. They will also save £15,000 on IT maintenance systems over three years. The improved operations have also contributed to Aberlour winning £700,000 of new funding for service provision.
As well as the technology-enabled transformation that is at the heart of the partnership, we’ve also been bringing our people together through volunteering and fundraising. Since our first steps together in early 2010, we’ve been able to:
· Train Aberlour staff, enabling them to provide internet safety training to safeguard approximately 6,000 children
· Engage 40 Microsoft employees in six different volunteering activities at Aberlour
· Organized fundraising balls and Christmas Giving Tree gift collections.
In October this year our partnership received fantastic recognition when we pat on the back. We were awarded the Corporate & Trusts Award at the Institute of Fundraising Scotland Awards Dinner. In their submission, Aberlour highlighted the direct impact the partnership has had on the services they provide to children:
· Increase in the number of children and families Aberlour can work with and better reporting on the impact on their lives
· Increase in the number of services for children by increasing the number of successful tender and funding applications
· Increase in staff time spent with children and parents given smarter working practices and increased IT efficiency
· Increase in the sharing of best-practice information and guidance both internally within Aberlour and externally to other charitable organizations and partners and stakeholders particularly in relation to key childcare policies
· Demonstrated increase in staff skills through a reduction in support requests and an increase in IT training delivered to staff
· Reduction in costs in terms of staff time, travel, procurement, deployment and maintenance.
There’s some healthy rivalry with our Microsoft colleagues south of the border (in England), which is why winning this award for our work in Scotland is just that bit more special.
We won’t be resting on our laurels though. We have further work to do on the new technology deployment. And we want to build on the depth and range of contact between our organizations, supporting Aberlour’s continued success, and continuing to build team strength and staff morale at Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Bob McGonigle as Santa to deliver presents to Aberlour’s Bankfoot service
LaDeana Huyler, Microsoft Accessibility
This week, at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington, D.C., more than 700 of the most innovative educators from around the world came together to discuss their big ideas. These extraordinary educators are focused on improving teaching and learning through the effective use of technology in the classroom. One way educators are creating a better future for students is through helping their students with disabilities learn and communicate in new ways with accessible technology.
Educators are faced with the challenge of both integrating technology into the classroom and teaching students of all learning styles and abilities, including students with disabilities. Students with disabilities face unique challenges in learning and in life. Microsoft has long been dedicated not only to building accessibility into our products but also providing accessibility resources for educators.
We are continually growing our commitment to accessibility in education by listening to what teachers need and creating the accessibility training resources they request. In response such requests, Microsoft recently published Accessibility Curriculum Resources for Special Education for Windows 7 and Office 2010 . This curriculum resource provides specific examples and best practices that show how the PC can be personalized for students with learning style differences or physical disabilities. And, it shows educators how to create accessible documents and teaching materials in Office 2010. Teachers are using Office 2010 to prepare effective teaching tools to support students with disabilities. With Office 2010, teachers can create animated instructional presentations, convert documents to audiobooks, and include subtitles with audio and video media. They can also check the accessibility of a Word document, Excel worksheet, or PowerPoint presentation with Accessibility checker.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is just one example of a school district that is leading the way, and I had the privilege of touring their staff training center and visiting with their accessibility specialists this week. Loudoun County Public schools has a ten-person assistive technology team that utilizes the built-in features in Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office products to help educators throughout their district incorporate accessibility best practices into the curriculum in a cost-effectively way. Read how Loudoun County Public Schools uses familiar technology to make learning more accessible for all students. At the Global Forum, teachers had an opportunity to attend the accessibility teacher training workshop and get hands-on experience using the accessibility features of Windows and Office. We also shared the story of a blind student named Ignacia Picas who attends Colegio San Benito, a school in Santiago, Chile that uses accessible software to help Ignacia reach the top of her class. Ignacia using a laptop running the Windows operating system and its accessibility features, Microsoft Office, and JAWS screen reading software to fully integrate into her classroom and maintain a near-perfect grade point average. Her teachers provide her with quizzes and exams in Microsoft Word document.
While here, we have met with educators from Chile, Portugal, Germany, Australia, Russia, the United States, and Ireland to have in-depth discussions and share best practices about the use of accessible technology in schools. On the Partners in Learning network, we plan to continue this global dialogue to help educators worldwide lead the way in engaging students through accessible technology.
Returning U.S. veterans face major challenges finding civilian employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics October unemployment report showed that the unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was 12.1 percent compared with 8.4 percent for nonveterans. A year ago we announced a program aimed at addressing that issue, the Elevate America Veterans initiative. It’s a program focused on working with nonprofit organizations to provide veterans and their spouses with the training and support services they need to transition from the military to civilian employment.
Today we are expanding that commitment. Working with the U.S. Department of Labor in a liaison role, we are announcing the availability of new training voucher ”packages” that will enable veterans to obtain, at no cost, selected e-learning, test preparation and certification for Windows 7 and Office 2010 or selected IT Professional e-learning, test preparation and certification. These vouchers will be available in the five communities in the United States with the highest number of post 9/11 era veterans and distributed in partnership with local Workforce Areas, including:
· Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WA)
· San Diego Workforce Partnership (CA)
· Houston-Galveston Area Council (TX)
· Northern Virginia Workforce Board (VA)
· First Coast Workforce Development/Worksource Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
Each of these areas will receive 1,000 voucher packages per year for two years, totaling 10,000 packages. We will also be providing support for in-person tutorial assistance for veterans to ensure they are successful in their training and certification. Each of the local Workforce Areas will help connect the veterans and their spouses to potential employers in their area.
Veterans can find more information about resources available from Microsoft, including specific locations where the vouchers will be distributed at the Elevate America veterans initiative website.
This new voucher program is an expansion to our existing Elevate America veterans initiative, and our work with six nonprofit organizations who are providing veterans with technology skills, job training and placement programs to help give veterans and their spouses the skills and resources they need to be successful in today’s civilian work force. The nonprofits providing these services in their local communities include:
· 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
Through this work we continue to learn best practices in how we can scale support for the thousands of veterans and their spouses who can benefit from this type of support.The new voucher program increases our investment in the Elevate America Veterans initiative to over $12 million in cash, product, training and certification resources and other services.
· Read the official press release
· Elevate America Veterans web site
· Microsoft, Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Richard Burr Convene Roundtable on Veterans and Unemployment
· Joining Forces to Increase Job Opportunities for Military Spouses
· Bringing veterans to Microsoft
· Elevate America helps U.S. veterans to find employment
· Stories from the front lines: Elevate America veterans
· Supporting our Veterans
· Asking for help is strength, not weakness – Wounded Warriors Project
· Calling all Businesses—Hire More Veterans with Disabilities - Paralyzed Veterans of America
· Responding to the Emerging Needs of Veterans – Veterans Inc.
· Veterans Build Success at Bellevue College – Bellevue College
· The Private Sector Steps up for Vets - Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
· Benefits of Hiring a Veteran – Gulf Coast Workforce Board
· Serving our country’s heroes – Goodwill Industries
· More than meets the eye – American Legion
· A tribute to success – Able-Disabled Advocacy
· Our Duty - USO
Andrea L. Taylor, Director, North America Community Affairs, Microsoft
Since 2006 when I began leading Microsoft’s North America Community Affairs program, there have been countless visits to the nation’s capital for important events including the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008. This week’s trip, however, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Faith & Politics Institute and to accept the inaugural Philanthropic Leadership Award on behalf of the company, was very special.
The Institute, with its unique mission – fostering trust, civility and productivity amid increasing challenges across the political spectrum, has never been so timely. For two decades this organization has served hundreds of members of Congress and congressional staff by offering experimental pilgrimages, reflection groups, retreats and public forums.
During the Gala Dinner, members of this bipartisan group spoke eloquently about their transformative experiences at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama or Robben Island in South Africa. The bridge, an icon of the civil rights era, was the site of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when police officers attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators on their march to Montgomery, the state capital. Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town and now a museum, was the location where former President and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, including current South Africa President Jacob Zuma, were imprisoned in the apartheid era.
Among the speakers were Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who participated in the Selma March as the president of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), and The Honorable Amo Houghton, a retired member of the House of Representatives from New York. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Senator Roy Blunt, were recipients of The Lewis-Houghton Leadership Awards and both reflected on their impactful experiences as longtime members of the Institute.
Just as the Institute has a proud legacy of two decades of service in the interest of bridging the divides that arise in a thriving, robust democracy, Microsoft has worked since its founding in 1975 to promote and support corporate philanthropy and to cultivate a tradition of giving back to the community through investments that seek to close the opportunity divide.
Last week, we completed our annual giving campaign during which employees in the U.S. were encouraged to give their time, talent and treasure in the places where they live, work, and play. We expect our campaign to exceed the $96 million generated last year from cash donations and the company match up to $12,000 per employee to benefit 16,000 nonprofit organizations related to education, health and human services and the arts.
When accepting the award, I highlighted the Institute and Microsoft’s shared goals to build community and bridge the divides that will build on our longtime partnership and help to change the world. It was also a special honor to be seated next to Congressman Lewis, a personal hero, who I first saw (but never met) at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 when Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. made his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Remembering that occasion, I jokingly shared with the audience that I was disappointed that Congressman Lewis didn’t remember me among the crowd of more than 250,000 peaceful demonstrators that day. Then quickly added that I was much younger then!
In this moment of celebration of 20 years of service by The Faith & Politics Institute, Microsoft extends hearty congratulations for the work that has been accomplished and thanks for allowing us to be part of this proud history by recognizing our investments in communities and charitable engagement.
Congressman John Lewis @ Faith & Politics Institute Gala with Andrea Taylor
Andrea Taylor with Rev. Doug Tanner, Senior Advisor & Founder, The Faith & Politics Institute
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