November, 2011

  • Upgrading your PC? Why not give someone access to the internet?

    Sean Nicholson, OEM 3R (Redesign, Reuse, Recycle) program manager, Microsoft


    Schoolchildren in Madagascar using refurbished PCs to learn IT skills

    Every year around 20% of the PCs in use worldwide finish with their owners. Many will be broken or very old, but around half of them can still be reused, especially as entry level PCs for internet use and learning IT skills. These reused PCs represent some of the most affordable ways for people to own a PC with commercial prices starting from under $100 and donated PCs just requiring the cost of cleaning them up, testing, and performing a clean software install.

    Microsoft has been supporting the reuse of PCs for over 5 years. In our last financial year we helped over 400,000 PCs be reused by schools, universities, not for profit organizations and technology access programs around the world. This work is part of our Registered Refurbisher Program, which has both commercial software licenses that any refurbished PC can use, along with special Citizenship software licenses that only education, non-profits and specially approved recipients are allowed to use. The refurbishing organization can be commercial or charitable and may use both license types depending on who they are supplying the refurbished PC to.

    The Citizenship software licenses offer Windows 7 for around $6 and Office 2007 for a similar fee. The fees are used to cover the cost of running the program as well as support the reuse of PCs. For example Microsoft has been sponsoring the International Computer Refurbishers Summit (ICRS) for the last few years which many non-profit refurbishers attend to share knowledge on PC reuse. Microsoft also operates a program for large commercial refurbishers called Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher.

    Microsoft defines a refurbished PC as a PC that has been used, is over six months old and has its original motherboard and processor. The refurbishers may choose to upgrade things like memory, graphics and disk storage. The refurbishers are also required to follow local environmental legislation and international data wiping standards to ensure no confidential or personal data is left on the used PC.

    Currently we have over 2,500 organizations that have joined the program from over 80 countries. They range from small non-profits who refurbish fewer than 50 PCs a year, up to large organization's handling tens of thousands, often sponsored by governments. Some of our large commercial refurbishers operate programs that allow corporations to donate their used PCs to help others, for example Serious Good from Redemtech. Directories of all the organizations in our PC refurbishment programs along with guidance on buying a refurbished PC can be found here.

    To support this work we have developed special software tools that make reimaging a refurbished PC easier, especially when you have to do hundreds at a time. Unlike the new PC production line where each PC is the same model, with the same device drivers, a refurbishers production line handles snowflakes in that each PC is different and will require different configuration options. We have also produced guides on disposal of your PC which you can read here along with guidance on the licensing rules when reinstalling Windows operating system on PCs.

    While reusing PCs is great for the environment my favorite part of running the citizenship refurbisher program is meeting and hearing stories around the impact these affordable PCs have on people lives.

    Please consider joining our Refurbisher Program , or buying from one of our refurbishers.

  • Extending our commitment to help U.S. Veterans find employment


    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.

    Related posts:

    · 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

    Guest posts:

    · 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

  • Movember: Welcome to Moustache Season

    Tom_MoranMy grandfather was a fire department chief, and I can still remember him in his uniform – white hat, boots, heavy jacket and gloves.  He was a hero to me.  He was also a survivor of prostate cancer.  Each of my other grandparents had cancer, and many of my friends and family, from 2 years old to 90.  In fact, this is not uncommon – 1 of 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 1 of 3 women.  In fact, by the time you finish reading this post, 2 men will have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  And by the time you finish this post and visit my site, 1 man will have died from prostate cancer.  In Movember, the month formerly known as November, we are focusing on men’s health issues.  The ‘we’ is nearly 800,000 men (Mo Bro’s) and women (Mo Sistas) who have signed up worldwide to be part of a movement to highlight and help make progress on health issues that disproportionately affect men, such as certain types of cancer, diabetes, suicide and depression.  So far, we’ve been part of raising nearly $43,000,000 this year alone.  So welcome to moustache season:   


    The Mo Sistas in support of Movember

    Every Movember men register at, start the month clean-shaven and grow a moustache for 30 days. The moustache becomes the hairy ribbon for men's health and the guys growing them become walking, talking billboards for the cause. To date, over 1.1 million men and women have supported Movember, raising $174 million through the power of the moustache.

    "Movember is truly becoming a movement for menʼs health in the US," said Adam Garone, CEO and Co-Founder of Movember. "Through the simple act of growing a moustache, we are funding successful awareness and education programs through the Movember Foundation, research through our partner

    Prostate Cancer Foundation, and support programs through our partner LIVESTRONG.”

    Movember funds are hard at work. Thanks to support of their Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, Movember is funding a number of prolific outcomes in the US, including:

    · PCF Research Program: Whole Genome Sequencing For the first time ever scientists have constructed a complete genetic map of prostate cancer.

    · PCF Research Program: 25+ Subtypes of Prostate Cancer Researchers have identified 25+ subtypes of prostate cancer.

    · LIVESTRONG Movember Partnership Initiative Providing free cancer navigation resources for any man affected by any cancer at any stage.

    I am proud of the nearly 450 Microsoft employees, men and women, who have signed up to be part of this – people like Matt Bielich, who guides our Microsoft Mo “network”, Paul Redmond, my team captain, Kees Pronk, a fundraising machine, and Cynthia Snyder, Mo Sista extraordinaire who brought in pink moustaches for all the ladies.  We all have our own reasons for participating.  For me, I do it to honor the memory of my grandparents, I do it for myself and my family so I can enjoy a happy and healthy life, and I do it for all of our kids so that they might not have the specter of cancer haunting their futures. 

    It is easy for YOU to get involvedStart by visiting my site at – I would love for you to leave a comment, or a note of encouragement.  You can also visit the main Movember site, or the Microsoft Movember site, to learn more about these health issues, the movement and what it takes to join or sign up your own team for next year.  Look at starting an effort within your school, club, team, company, or even retirement community – there are groups from government agencies, universities, and private companies all growin’ and showin’ their new Mo’s. 

    Finally, if you happen to see someone sporting a brand new Mo, and perhaps seeming a bit uncomfortable, say hello - there’s a good chance they are one of my new MoBros!  If it is a bright neon lime green moustache, it’s probably me…

  • How social entrepreneurs are tackling the toughest issues (VIDEO)

    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.

  • A Commentary: The Role of Research in Corporate Social Responsibility

    By Christopher T. Coward

    Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

    Since 2005, the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School has been working with Microsoft’s Community Affairs group to study the impact and effectiveness of the company’s Community Skills Technology Program (CTSP).

    Microsoft’s commitment to independent inquiry is significant. The company has been serious about conducting independent research to inform its grant-making strategy, strengthen the effectiveness of its grant partners, and contribute to Microsoft’s role as a thought leader on the role of ICT skills training and employability.

    Here are some of the key insights that TASCHA has observed in its work with Microsoft:

    The importance of a “learning organization”. The work of CTSP is exemplary in its scale, partner selection, and ultimate impact. An important factor in this regard is Community Affairs’ openness as a “learning organization.” While our evaluations and research represent just one type of input, on numerous occasions Microsoft has acted on findings in the field and been willing to make some difficult choices.

    The role of independent research. Microsoft and the TASCHA team worked together to develop annual research plans that struck a balance among several objectives: expanding knowledge about the role and impact of ICT training in society, providing guidance that Microsoft could use to improve CTSP, and creating public awareness about program results. In all cases it was essential that our role as independent researchers was clear, and for Community Affairs leaders in Redmond to back us when questions arose. We were most effective when we worked closely with Community Affairs leaders in Redmond. In Europe, for example, TASCHA, our European research partners and Microsoft Europe participated in a series of European Union meetings while we were conducting research on the challenges facing immigrant women in the labor market—a prominent issue in the region. Microsoft Europe understood and highlighted the independent nature of our research. Our research inspired action on the role of NGOs in providing technology access and training for immigrant communities in the EU. The issue is now squarely on the EU policy agenda, and TASCHA researchers, CTSP grant recipients, and Microsoft personnel are actively participating in policy conversations on this issue.

    The role of evaluations and thematic research. In the first phase of our collaboration with Microsoft, we established metrics for monitoring grantee performance and conducted evaluations in many locations around the world. We then shifted our attention to specific research issues such as the effect of ICT skills training on wages and target populations, including disabled persons, immigrants, and at-risk youth. In our experience, evaluations produced clearer actionable findings; research generated greater opportunities to engage policy and other stakeholders and to influence a broader range of people through publications and conference presentations. Both approaches have value, and it is important that all parties are clear with regard to the goals and expectations of whichever approach is pursued.

    The ripple effects of research. Microsoft-sponsored research has been significant in shaping an important area within the field of ICT and development. For example, as part of a large-scale, five-year global study on the impact of ICT in public access centers, a major dimension TASCHA is investigating is the role ICT plays with respect to employment and income generation. The Microsoft-funded work has directly shaped the design of the new study, and the results will provide further insights into the impact of organizations that provide ICT access and skills training.

    Microsoft’s investment in independent evaluation and research—and its willingness to embrace a “learning approach”—have helped increase the effectiveness and impact of CTSP. Insights regarding the role of technology training and employability have benefited the company and—because the research has been entered in the public domain—other organizations working in the field.

    More information about Microsoft-funded research at TASCHA:

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