Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft
Corporate Responsibility Magazine has announced that Microsoft was named among the Top 3 Best Corporate Citizens for 2012.
CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List is known as one of the world’s top corporate responsibility rankings. Now in its thirteenth year, the list ranks companies based on publicly available information in seven categories: environmental impact, climate change, human rights, philanthropy, employee relations, financial performance and governance.
It is a considerable honor to have been ranked so highly on this prestigious list alongside other companies that have devoted so much and made such sizable contributions to our society.
Microsoft’s Director of North America Community Affairs Andrea Taylor (front row, third from left) attends the closing bell at the NYSE to celebrate the release of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens list
For Microsoft, Corporate Citizenship is core to our company mission of helping people and organizations around the world realize their full potential. As our company has grown, our commitment has extended far beyond our own products and services and has been amplified many times over through our partner network – including our non-profit partners, with whom we work closely to apply our business skills, our technology, and our company resources to serve the communities where we live and work around the world.
Microsoft was founded on the belief that putting technology in the hands of individuals could enrich and improve their lives, and we’ve invested heavily in improving individuals’ access to technology.
However, we’ve recently identified a more complex issue that extends beyond technology access and cuts across economic, geographic and social boundaries. This issue is the opportunity divide for youth. Around the world, new skills and experiences are needed for new economies, but the approach to educating and training young people for this new world isn’t keeping apace. While some young people are prospering, those on the other side of the opportunity divide lack the skills, education, experiences, and connections to employment that are required to survive and thrive.
According to a recent International Youth Foundation report, “Opportunity for Action,” nearly 75 million young people were unemployed worldwide in 2011. This equates to an unemployment rate of 12.7%, which is more than double the rate for people over the age of 25. And, for those young people who have jobs, it is concerning to note that many are working in poor conditions for very low pay with no safety nets for protection. Indeed, youth today comprise 25% of the world’s working poor. Another alarming fact is that only 44% of youth worldwide have access to a high school education, which is one of the most basic requirements for gainful employment.
Addressing the challenges facing youth is critical to the economic future of all countries and regions around the world and Microsoft’s desire to help them create a real impact for a better tomorrow. Therefore, Microsoft is focusing on helping youth cross the opportunity divide by empowering them to imagine and realize their full potential through a number of programs.
These programs include empowering nonprofits around the world with cash donations and free software – nearly $1 billion in 2011 alone – to address issues of technology and workforce training, especially among the youth population. They also include working with millions of teachers to build their technology skills and reach students in new ways through innovative practices in their classrooms. And, it they including engaging students directly as well….in this year alone, we helped more than 350,000 students from nearly 200 countries develop technology solutions to address the world’s toughest societal problems through our Microsoft Imagine Cup competition. We’ve even provided a select number of those students with a cash grant to help them bring their ideas to market.
These are just a few of our programs to empower youth to change their world. We invite you to learn more about our work in this area and join us in creating opportunities for today’s global youth.
It’s been said that if you can help a young person take the first step, chances are they will put themselves on a path to succeed. It’s why, as a company, we’re focused on creating opportunities for youth. Since 2000 we've worked together with Boys & Girls Club of America on the Club Tech initiative. It provides young people with access to technology, and the skills they need to use that technology to improve education and develop job skills. Today with Boys & Girls Club and Comcast we’re announcing the latest extension of Club Tech.
Club Tech Impact Grants
Kids take part in activities at a BGCA Club Tech Center for Excellence, a state-of-the-art technology center which provides youth access to fully loaded computers with software.
Club Tech is a BGCA program initiated in partnership with Microsoft to provide software, training and development of digital literacy curriculum. In 2010, Comcast joined as a partner in delivering essential digital literacy opportunities through technology grants to Clubs.
You can discover more about Club Tech by watching the video below or visiting: www.bgca.org/clubtech. Find out more about some of the people who have benefitted from Club Tech here.
Great Futures Start Here: http://marketing.bgca.org/video/Pages/ClubTechGFSH60sec.aspx
By Rodrigo J. Santos
Editor’s note: We’re delighted to share an independent perspective of the Innovate4Good@Microsoft event that took place in Seattle at the weekend. It comes from Rodrigo Santos who is one of the young leaders who attended the event. This was originally posted in the Innovate4Good online community and Rodrigo kindly agreed to let us share it here. Rodrigo is currently studying at the University of Southern California. His website is here.
If I had to describe what happened at Innovate4Good@Microsoft in one word, I'd say "inspiring." The hours spent inside of that room were priceless, and the collective brain power at work was immeasurable. Let me share with you what happened from the beginning. When I got the email with the invitation from Akhtar, I was surprised at how little it said about the event other than creative minds coming together to tackle the problems of their communities through technology. Intrigued, I signed up and patiently waited for the day to come. After all, flight and room expenses were both covered, so I had nothing to lose. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Seattle.
The reception on Friday night was just the beginning. I was asked, among 11 others out of 100 people to be the facilitator for the brainstorming sessions that would occur the next day. I was then presented with an overview of the agenda, but needless to say, it wasn't "fully disclosed," which made our expectations jump to the roof. The Microsoft store where the reception took place was fully equipped with the latest tech, and everywhere you looked people were playing Kinect games, including the new Star Wars. As we networked and talked to each other, I realized what was going on: people from all walks of life, ages ranging 14-30, with different backgrounds, careers and interests were summoned in one place to produce a greater impact in the activities they were already a part of in their communities. Only then I realized why we were selected: we each produced positive change in our communities, and Innovate4Good wanted to help us amplify that.
Saturday began with a quick registration process, a hearty breakfast and a PEZ dispenser after my own image (thanks to MakerBot industries). Once we gathered in the room, Gunner from Aspiration unfolded our schedule. Comprised of 3 parts, our day consisted of discussing controversial issues where taking a stand, recognizing major problems within our communities and highlighting steps to address these issues would culminate into people taking action for what they believed in. As I talked and listened to each story, I realized how many young people are making their marks in the world, changing it for good. From providing access to technology for lower income students to literacy movements and after school programs, high school and college students, as well as Microsoft employees and workers in the healthcare, education and other industries are successfully tackling these issues and making the change many of us want to see but only a few want to be a part of.
As the day progressed, we generated ideas that addressed many problematic areas that are similar in every community, and some people finally began to take a firm stand. In particular, I didn't have a strong stand on any given problem that our community in Los Angeles was facing, but after hearing how 1 person implemented an after school program, which resulted in a decreased crime rate of over 20% in just a month and then others who defied the world through persistence and as a result changed the fate of many lives, it got me thinking, and thinking, until I realized how much was given to me, and how little I was giving back.
This wake-up call created my Senior project idea, which I will be using to creatively teach middle school kids, especially schools in lower income areas how to code. It is an interesting twist to what's already out there, and I can't wait to get started. In doing this, I hope to give kids the chance I never had: to get a head-start on writing code and become the change-makers that our world needs.
So what exactly happened, other than my "inner transformation" for a greater cause?
This was a win-win for me and I'm pretty sure anyone who went to this event would say the same thing. I'm glad I was there. Now I'd like to leave you with the quote that got me... and got me good. It said:
"We can be the voice to bring about change in a global movement"
Are you ready? Then Join In!
More information about Innovate4Good:
By: Angela Camacho, Legal Corporate Affairs Director, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Latin America
Today Microsoft furthered its commitment to bridging the “opportunity divide,” joining with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to launch a new partnership to dramatically boost job entry among poor and low-income youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. NEO: New Employment Opportunities - or Nuevos Empleos y Oportunidades - brings together key private, public and civic leaders to reach 1 million youth in Latin America, while providing high-impact, market-relevant youth training and job placement services on a large scale.
As a Founding Corporate Partner, Microsoft is making a $1 million financial contribution, donating $4 million worth of software, and making in-kind commitments to provide training curriculum, internships, on the job training and mentors. As a company, we are deeply committed to this region. In 2011, Microsoft celebrated 25 years of impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we currently employ more than 2,000 direct employees and support an ecosystem of 70,000 partners.
The challenge in this part of the world is substantial:
These statistics speak directly to the “opportunity divide” Microsoft is working to close – an emergent gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Each one of the world’s 1.2 billion young people ages 15 to 24 holds the potential to lead productive independent lives and contribute positively to society. Closing this opportunity divide is one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and as a result, the social and economic development of our countries.
We are particularly excited about this initiative because it creates opportunities for youth through technology, training, and experiences, empowering them to imagine and realize their full potential.
To find out more about the urgency of the global youth opportunity divide, click here to read Microsoft’s commissioned report, “Opportunity for Action”, recently released by the International Youth Foundation.
Microsoft has a long-standing partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to foster Development through Technology and Capacity Building in Latin America and the Caribbean.
For the Spanish version of this blog please click here.
By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft
I landed in Cairo earlier today a few hours ago expecting to see significant changes. In many ways everything has changed yet on the drive from the airport to the hotel in Zamalek to across the Nile, Cairo is still the same. The wonderful energy, the crazy traffic with cars moving in a slow dance – it was Friday evening after all and people were out and about enjoying the beautiful evening. Traffic was snarled in some places with the Presidential campaign in full swing and supporters out in the streets waving signs and banners in support of their candidates. For life in a very big city it seems very normal. Yet for many their whole world has been changed completely. Many of us hope for the better but not everyone is that sure.
Right after my arrival I met with 25 youth leaders that have been part of the Microsoft Tech Hope program. This is a program where they are using technology to bring about social change. After the initial introductions the conversation quickly turned to the Arab Spring and the revolution. I asked them if they had been part of the demonstrations in Thahrir Square and all but two raised their hands. The other two were from outside Cairo and participated in local demonstrations. I was surprised as the room had equal number of men and women.
I wanted to know their opinion on the revolution and how they all felt. Almost all of them felt that they, the middle class youth, now felt more empowered. They all felt that they can now do something on their own. They do not have to go into just another job. One of them was very clear, he told me ‘before the revolution my plan was to leave the country and study abroad, find a job there and stay there’. There was no future for him in Egypt. Now he is full of optimism and will stay here and work to bring about positive change in the underserved communities.
Every single one of them felt the revolution had impacted them, but for the poor there has been no immediate impact and for them change will be very slow. All of the youth in the room were concerned about this and as a group felt that they should work together towards equitable change.
I also asked them for their experience with the revolution and if anyone deserves any or some credit for it. One of the young men said the Ministry of Interior. I was taken aback and asked him to explain. He said that January 25 started out as a day of protest as it was Police Day - a day to celebrate the police- and what started out as a protest against the Ministry of Interior spun out of control over the next several days because of the brutal force the Ministry used to squelch the demonstrations. His opinion was if the Ministry had not taken this approach there would not have been a revolution as no one started out wanting a change in power.
The conversation lasted late into the night and they were all bouncing different ideas off each other about how they can continue to drive positive change and how they all can make a difference together.
At one point, someone asked if the women in the room felt they would lose out when the new regime comes into power. They felt that was not the case, everyone participated and even some try people will not go back and not let anyone push them back.
Hope was the common sentiment in the room, though many are wondering how they can ensure that everyone will benefit from this change.
On Sunday we will launch of Innovate4Good@Microsoft for the Arab region and if this conversation was any indication we’re in for a fantastic event. We have young leaders from across the region including Libya, Tunisia, and Iraq attending the event. I cannot wait to hear their stories.
The butterfly effect – what a great way to start the conversation in Cairo.
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