March, 2012

  • The panel at Innovate4Good Seattle

    This morning we’re hosting an array of different sessions and we’ve just had a panel discussion.


    Introduced by our own Akhtar Badhah, the panel included (from left to right) the honorable Norman B. Rice, Asha Sharma, Genevieve L’Esperance, Johnnie Lovett, Adora Svitak, and Wilson To.

    Each member of the panel took a moment to share their work and passions.

    • Asha was recently recognized by President Obama for her work creating a nonprofit in Minnesota called the A-list, which provides a cool yet safe environment for teens to hang out and develop themselves personally and professionally in a youth-led environment. She observed that you have to focus on momentum, and how you move towards your goal.  Once you’re successful it creates more momentum. 
    • Genevieve is among other things using Small Basic to teach girls programming skills in Montreal. She points out that there’s always someone older who is pulling you along, but now there are younger people who will listen to the people in this room.  She asked everyone to find a kid who is curious and share what you know. Inspire them, take them under your wing, help them to drive positive change.
    • Johnnie is a social entrepreneur who among other things started the Fresh Connection Brand. He encouraged everyone to make sure they are heard.  Don’t be afraid or shy away from being heard. We all care about many things.  We can’t solve every issue but look at what you’re really passionate about. There are people and organizations out there willing to help you.
    • Adora reflected on the fact that at three years of age she spent her time walking around her neighborhood giving speeches to anyone who would listen, which of course led to her talk at TED.  She’s focused on youth issues from education reform to literacy and believes that one way companies like Microsoft can help the people attending the event today is to connect them to the global network of Innovate4Good events taking place around the world.
    • Wilson has just completed his doctorate at the University of California, Davis and led the team that created the winning Imagine Cup project which detects malaria using a Windows Phone. He pointed out that everyone in the room has incredible stories to tell and that if you want to inspire people then you need to get out and tell those stories.  That is how you can inspire people.
    • Norm was the 49th mayor of Seattle and served two consecutive terms from 1989 to 1997.  He currently leads the Seattle Foundation.  Norm talked about the connection between youth and making positive change and pointed out that if we don’t focus on creating positive change for all youth then we’re simply creating problems we’ll have to solve in the future. He also shared that you should never be afraid of not knowing something. Have the courage to ask questions and find someone to teach you. That lesson changed his life.

    The day continues and everyone is now doing some solution brainstorming.


  • Photos: The first Innovate4Good event is underway

    Our first Innovate4Good event kicked off on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington today.

    Here’s some photos from the event and you can follow the event on Twitter at #InnovateForGood.

  • From Seattle to Singapore: How Microsoft is taking lessons from young people

    By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft

    There are 1.2 billion young people on our planet today – more than ever before and the numbers continue to grow with projections of 1.5 billion young people by 2035. Many of them are doing amazing things. They are innovating, they are inspiring and they are driving real impact.

    We believe we can learn a lot from their work, their energy and their passion. We want to hear from them directly on the best way we can support them. That’s why we’re holding six events around the world starting in Seattle this weekend and then visiting Cairo, Singapore, Brussels, Beijing and Mexico City.

    As part of the events we’re launching the Innovate4Good @Microsoft community, a place where young people around the world can come together, collaborate, inspire and support each other.

    Our goal is simple. Create a global movement for young people that enable them to:

    • Connect to others who want to make a real impact for a better tomorrow…for themselves, for their community and for the world
    • Envision new ideas and work together to create and seize new opportunities
    • Access Microsoft and its resources, programs, and events in their communities
    • Discover how others have used Microsoft technology and programs to do amazing things

    These events and the Innovate4Good @Microsoft community are just a start.

    We must actively enable young people to overcome unique issues that no other generation has faced. The private, public and nonprofits sectors must come together to help youth cross the emerging opportunity divide between those who have the skills, education and opportunities to succeed and those who don’t.

    At Microsoft, we are creating a new set of programs, partnerships and resources, all focused on helping youth realize their opportunity in the world, whether they aspire to reach higher levels of education, start or grow their career, become an entrepreneur or generate social good.

    Please join us. It’s in everyone’s best interest.


    The International Youth Foundation report: Opportunity for Action highlights some of the challenges facing youth around the world.

    Follow the Innovate4Good events around the world with @msftcitizenship and #innovateforgood

    Find the latest news, photos, comments at the Microsoft Citizenship Facebook page.


    You can follow our Innovate4Good event online:

  • Putting a spotlight on the opportunity divide for youth around the world

    Today the International Youth Foundation has released a report that looks at the growing education and social challenges facing youth around the world.

    At a time when we have more young people – 1.2 billion – than at any time in the planet’s history, there’s an urgent need to provide them with the education, skills and employment opportunities they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.

    The report, which was commissioned by Microsoft, underlines the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people around the world. A problem Brad Smith wrote about back in January:

    “Young people require new skills, better education and stronger connections to real world life and job opportunities. A McKinsey study recently estimated that, by the end of this decade, two-thirds of the jobs that will be created don't even exist today. We have to do a better job of preparing our young people for this future. We have to help close this opportunity divide.

    Tackling an issue of this importance will require a collective effort by governments, businesses and the non-profit community. Through our work around the world, we’ve come to the conclusion that closing this opportunity divide has become one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and, as a result, the future of our global economy and society.”

    So what are the current conditions for youth around the world?

    The global unemployment rate for young people is currently 12.7 percent - more than double global average for unemployment as a whole. While some youth are prospering, many others who lack access to education, skills and opportunities, face growing challenges. As the global youth population grows over time, the gap risks widening even further between those with opportunity and those without.

    The Opportunity for Action report reveals that nearly 75 million young people around the world are unemployed, and currently only 44 percent of youth worldwide pursue education as far as the equivalent of the high school level in the United States. This is becoming a bigger issue as more jobs now require higher levels of skill and education. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that by 2018, 62% of the workforce will require some college education, yet today 16% of American youth ages 18-24 fail even to complete high school.

    In Latin America youth have greater access to education than ever before, but there are still low education completion rates across the region. Meanwhile in the Middle East and Africa there are growing number of youth with a university education, but they’re finding there are no jobs to match their advanced skills.

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, where 25% of children are not even enrolled in primary school, young people are grossly under-employed in low-skill, low-quality jobs and 72% earn less than $2 USD per day simply to survive.

    Addressing the Opportunity Divide

    The factors behind this opportunity divide differ from country-to-country, but the overall global trend is the same everywhere. Unemployment for young people is rising and we need the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work together to provide youth with access to the education, skills, and job opportunities they need.

    For the past decade, Microsoft has invested in programs and partnerships to help millions of young people around the world create a better future for themselves through education, skills training and job placement. However, there’s a lot more work to be done.

    We are working with governments, nonprofits, industry colleagues, educators and youth themselves to close the opportunity divide. A first step is shining a light on the problem through this report and learning directly from young people, which we’ll do through events taking place around the globe. We plan to incorporate the insights gained from these discussions into our work and use it to help us develop new plans and programs to improve youth access to education, skills training, and communities where they can bridge the opportunity divide and create a better tomorrow for themselves and our world.

      Read the International Youth Foundation’s ‘Opportunity for Action’ report.  [You can read the executive summary here]

    Hear directly from the International Youth Foundation

    To watch a short interview with Bill Reese, president and CEO of the International Youth Foundation, read today’s post on Microsoft on the Issues. In the interview, Bill discusses the role education plays in helping to improve the lives of youth all around the world as well as the Opportunity for Action report, which focuses on barriers to opportunity for global youth.

  • Supporting the right to play

    Earlier this week in London, Microsoft announced a 2012 sponsorship program with leading international children’s sport and play charity, Right To Play. As part of the partnership Microsoft will be providing Right to Play with funding, employee volunteers, Microsoft hardware and software products and integrated marketing activities across the Xbox brand. The Microsoft UK partnership will support Right To Play’s programs around the world.

    Right To Play is a leading international humanitarian and development organization using the transformative power of sport and play to build essential skills in children and thereby drive social change in communities affected by war, poverty and disease. Right To Play creates a safe place for children to learn and fosters the hope that is essential for children to envision and realize a better future.

    Right To Play currently operates in more than 20 countries including Benin, Burundi, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories (West Bank & Gaza), Peru, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and the United States.

    UK athletes and sports stars at the launch of Microsoft's 2012 partnership with global children's sports charity Right to Play at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge. Microsoft will provide funds and product to support Right to Play's work both in the UK and abroad.

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