Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
We all know that an organization’s profile is an important element of fundraising success. Why not extend the reach of your organization with some simple DIY tactics? This week’s Fast Five focuses on using Microsoft technology in your daily marketing and communications.
1. Spread the word
Looking for an easy way to increase awareness of your organization? Have volunteers and supporters with limited time but wide networks? Why not create an email signature to help promote an upcoming fundraiser or event? You can download a variety of Outlook ready options here and then customize and share with your supporters.
2. Bring your mission to life
Headed out to speak about your organization to potential funders? Want to provide a Committee with a visual recap of a recent event or program? Nothing communicates your work better than a video. You don’t need a professional production company, just download Windows Live Movie Maker. It’s free. Windows Live Movie Maker makes it easy to combine existing videos and photos with your favorite music to quickly create a compelling presentation. Of course, Windows Live Movie Maker also makes it easy to share your videos, so you can post directly to Facebook and YouTube. Lights, camera, action!
3. Speedy design
You needn’t be a graphic artist or power point extraordinaire to create communications that look slick and professional. Whether you need a newsletter, presentation, or a formal meeting agenda, there are thousands of Microsoft Office templates available.
4. Content Sharing
So, you’re creating all this great content, but where can you put it so that others can view and edit it? Windows Live SkyDrive was featured in a previous Fast Five, but I’m including it again this week because it is a Communications professional’s dream. No more worrying about big files bouncing back or saving to a zip drive before handing off files to your agency. With SkyDrive, you can keep all your documents, videos and images organized in one place and then choose who you share with or assign editing privileges to. Setting up a Windows Live account is free and free password protected SkyDrive comes standard.
5. Mailings made easy
Not exactly sexy, but a real part of life in just about any organization- the dreaded mailing label merge. How many label sheets have you wasted in the past trying to get everything to align just right? Well, I for one, was pleased to see that there is step-by-step instructions that should come in handy next time a label merge is required.
The mail merge process entails the following overall steps:
1. Set up the labels. You set up the layout of the labels one time, for all the labels in the mail merge. In a mail merge, the document that you use to do this is called the main document. In the label main document, you can also set up any content that you want repeated on each label, such as a company logo or your return address on shipping labels.
2. Connect the labels to your address list. Your address list is the data source that Microsoft Word uses in the mail merge. It is a file that contains the addresses to be printed on the labels.
3. Refine the list of recipients. Word generates a label for each address in your mailing list. If you want to generate labels for only certain addresses in your mailing list, you can choose which addresses, or records, to include.
4. Add placeholders, called mail merge fields, to the labels. When you perform the mail merge, the mail merge fields are filled with information from your address list.
5. Preview, complete the merge, and print the labels. You can preview each label before you print the whole set.
By Peter Njagi, Microsoft Certified Trainer
I have worked as a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2004. In March 2012, I heard about a program called the NetHope Academy that was going to be launched in Rwanda. After doing some research, I learned that the NetHope Academy provides internships and training to promising youth in the developing world. The idea is to provide them with the opportunities they need so that they can begin their careers as IT professionals.
I contacted NetHope and was invited to lead their first Academy “Boot Camp” in Rwanda. So many of these young people just can’t bridge the gap between their studies in University and the demands of the work place. I was very happy to help.
I gratefully anticipated meeting the NetHope Academy interns and information technology (IT) mentors at the campus of Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC) in Kicukiro, formerly known as ETO Kicukiro. During those first days, the interns showed a lot of willingness to learn despite being a bit shy. After laying some ground rules (and a little dancing to break the ice), I saw how eager the interns were to learn, especially since this training was a different approach than what they were used to in their past institutions. The course would be more focused on practical application rather than theory, which would be a good thing for them. As we got to know each other, we realized we are all resourceful and we just need to utilize our time well.
NetHope Academy Rwanda pauses for a group photo in Kigali, April 2012
As Rwanda focuses its attention to the attainment of the goals as outlined in the Rwanda Vision 2020, I sincerely thank the NetHope team for considering the country in its pioneer program in Africa. It will go a long way in helping us achieve the much-needed IT skills to push the vision forward and make Rwanda the ICT hub for the region. The NetHope Academy internship program comes with a very workable course structure and with mentors who are very willing to support the interns. I am sure over the next six months we will begin to see the effect of the NetHope Academy in the Rwandan IT sector. With the knowledge of how to administer a Microsoft Windows Server 2008, the interns really will stand out in the job market. Kudos to them!
So, thank you NetHope, its sponsors and all those who made this assignment possible. There is “program design excellence” that comes from a multidisciplinary approach, and it really shines in NetHope Academy. This program reflects a complete, sustainable and healthy transformation in the participants. The opposite of a quick fix, this process looks very promising for other areas of international development.
The energy, enthusiasm, and love felt during the NetHope Academy training continues to inspire me each day and I look forward to seeing each one of the interns being on his or her feet professionally. The dedication and drive of the interns speaks highly of the NetHope selection process. The program is very well operated and managed. I could clearly see that the IT mentors – intern supervisors who addressed the class – were highly impressed with the quality of professionalism and communication shown by the interns.
I would specifically like to mention the friendly attitude and unmatched planning and organization skills of Lisa Obradovich and Kevine Bajeneza of NetHope. Accenture’s Krista Tracy did an amazing job as well. They took care of everything and everyone with a big heart. I’d also like to thank the interns in my class for making every day a good day and one worth living, even if it meant waking up very early in the morning and getting home very late in the evening. I knew you were giving your best and I wanted to do the same for you good people. I felt inspired by your energy and enthusiasm. Long live NetHope’s spirit of “Connect, Collaborate, Innovate!”
When asked to give their impressions of NetHope Academy Boot Camp and Peter, interns and program directors said:
“Because of what I learned I was able to pass the Microsoft Technical Associate certification. Now I am studying to earn my MCTS while working at my internship.” – Peruth Mukanshimiye
“I learned a lot in Boot Camp and it has made a difference for me at my internship. One thing that Peter taught us is how to work through problems and contribute to solutions. This is something we never learned in school.” – Samuel Yesashimwe
“This program is good for our country and for me in general because it’s helping me get my first IT job.” – Aimable Habimana
“Peter was outstanding. He truly understands the practical skill gap and job market challenges that youth in Rwanda face. He showed amazing dedication and inspiration every day. He is so genuine and his smile lit up the room in Kigali. I would bring him back to teach every Boot Camp if we could.” – Lisa Obradovich, NetHope Program Director
By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs at Microsoft
Over the last month our team at Microsoft has undertaken four Innovate4Good@Microsoft events, each of which had more than 100 youth leaders and change-makers participating. We started in Seattle and then moved to Cairo, Singapore and Brussels. The energy in the room for each of these events was incredible with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. For me, it has been both inspiring and humbling to be in the presence of such energy.
The current economic climate, which has hit youth the hardest of all in terms of unemployment, gives us a lot to be concerned about. Yet there was a tremendous amount of optimism through all the events, and most of the participants felt they can shape their own future. Many youth attending the events who have already become successful in their efforts to create a business or start a social enterprise were able to shed light on how they have succeeded, not only to help themselves, but to do so in a way that also helps others.
There were four consistent themes:
1) The path to success requires perseverance and being unreasonable helps because you do not take no for an answer and you will find ways to move forward by overcoming obstacles.
2) However, if you are unreasonable then you also have to be a learner. Lifelong learning therefore is another key to becoming successful.
3) Coping with failure was another consistent theme. People will fail but is it how one reacts to failure will eventually pave the way for success.
4) Finally one has to be compassionate – without thinking of the larger impact of your work on society you will not succeed as a change-maker.
Participants at the recent Innovate4Good@Microsoft event in Singapore
The Innovate4Good@Microsoft (I4G@Microsoft) event in Brussels, which was my last stop, had youth leaders from 30 countries working in teams to come up with innovate projects that they were committed to implement. Their ideas ranged from using the Xbox Kinect sensor to provide simulated eyesight for the blind, to using the Kinect to turn sign language into text for the deaf; and creating a portal for young people to become politically active and vote. What was interesting is that across the four regions where we held the I4G@Microsoft events, the issues that youth were tackling were very similar. They ranged from education, to environment, health, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation.
We now have a small but active community of youth leaders from four regions in the world that are engaging with each other on our online platform at Innovate4Good. In the months ahead, we expect this community to grow and become a marketplace for ideas, a place for exchange of resources, a platform to access training materials, and a place where ideas can be exposed.
The opportunity divide, between those youth who have the access, skills and resources to succeed and those who don’t, is real. We need new and innovative ways to bridge this divide. Creating a movement of youth change-makers is part of our commitment to bridge this divide and create an opportunity dividend. We have challenged these young leaders to learn something new, listen to novel ideas and be open to things they don’t understand. One of the participants summed up the sentiments of many in his tweet “Innovate4 good was so much better than what I was expecting! Wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world!” Another said that he learnt to “recognize and accept other’s ideas when they are better than your own”.
I am inspired by the young people that I met and humbled by their life stories in equal measure. We have much to do to ensure that future generations are not lost as we struggle to come out of a major economic downturn that has gripped many nations and regions of the world.
Technology has a role to play in how we can level the playing field and how we can provide access to youth in underprivileged communities. But technology has to be connected with empowering youth by building their skills, by inspiring them to innovate and become change-makers. Finally we have to invest in them through time, talent and treasure so we can support them to realize their potential and that they create a world that they can thrive in.
Innovate4Good@Microsoft is one step in this process where youth have the space to dream it, learn it, and live it. At Microsoft we are honored to be part of this process.
Editor’s Note: This is cross-posted from Microsoft on the Issues. Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and we are recognizing the efforts of teachers who are inspiring the next generation of future leaders. We are actively and deeply engaged in helping provide educators with the tools they need to create opportunities for youth through technology, training, and experiences that empower them to imagine and realize their full potential.
By Andrew Ko, General Manager, Microsoft Partners in Learning
For many of us, there has been at least one special person who has had a significant impact on our lives, and has inspired us to reach where we are today. It may be a parent, relative or a friend, but for many, it’s a teacher. Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.
David Squires, a teacher at Oak Valley Middle School in Commerce Township, Mich., works with student Taylor Henderson on a school project designed to help end unemployment.
Educators are at the frontline in preparing our students to compete in a globally competitive workforce, and I am continually inspired by how today’s most innovative and inspiring teachers use current socio-economic challenges as learning opportunities for their students. David Squires from Oak Valley Middle School in Commerce Township, Mich. is one such teacher, working with his students on a project to achieve the impossible: solve unemployment.
With Michigan’s high unemployment rate at 8.5 percent, students could relate to the problem, were aware of the causes, and had seen and often times felt the impact first hand. This connection generated student interest not only in the initial stages of the project, but also increased their desire to help solve the problem. Students were tasked with researching the issue, and developing presentations for the class, school and community that explore the issue and offer solutions to combat unemployment.
The unemployment issue hits us all. A recent International Youth Foundation Report, commissioned by Microsoft and entitled “Opportunity for Action”, found nearly 75 million of the world’s young people, ages 15 to 24 years-old, were unemployed in 2011. Of that total, 4 million were in the U.S. The report found that education is the linchpin in changing those circumstances, noting students with higher levels of education are more likely to find work in today’s economy.
Effective use of technology in the classroom is vital because it is so critical to students’ success. The impact technology can have is very evident in David Squires’ seventh-grade classroom. Students used a variety of technologies, including Microsoft OneNote, Excel, Skype and Movie Maker, to research, share data and ideas, and present their proposed solutions. Students also incorporated lessons from their math and social studies classes to analyze local data, graphs and discuss calculations, ratios, percentages, linear relationships and social implications of varying unemployment levels and political decisions.
At the end of the school year, students will share their solution to unemployment with individuals, businesses, NGOs and elected officials. Through this, students get first-hand experience in civic responsibility and learning what it takes to help affect change.
It’s that change that Microsoft is dedicated to cultivating. We are actively and deeply engaged in helping provide educators with the tools they need to be successful in engaging and inspiring the next generation of future leaders. Microsoft Partners in Learning is a 10-year, almost $500 million global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning. Since 2003, we’ve led the way in partnering with educators, helping nearly 10 million educators, and reaching more than 200 million students in 119 countries in our first seven years alone. It is why we are so proud to support the annual Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum, which honors educators who creatively and effectively use technology in the classroom to support critical skills development and learning for today’s students. David Squires is one of 44 U.S. educators selected to compete at the 2012 Partners in Learning US Forum, taking place July 31-August 1 in Redmond, Wash., and we encourage other innovative educators to apply by May 15 so they too can celebrate, collaborate and learn from their creative peers across the country.
We are encouraged by David’s lesson and the impact one class can have on the nation’s future. David says he hopes that by the end of the school year, his students will realize, even as middle school students, they can have a significant impact on their community and their world. That is inspirational, and we are excited to see how David’s students learn to become forces for change.
Microsoft has today announced that we plan to be carbon neutral across all our direct operations beginning on July 1st 2012 – the beginning of our next financial year.
Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft commented on the software enabled earth blog:
Today, we are announcing that we are making the commitment to become carbon neutral beginning with our Fiscal Year 2013 (which begins July 1st). This commitment will apply to our internal operations across more than 100 countries associated with our data centers, software development labs, offices and air travel. Our strategy is based on driving company-wide accountability resulting in greater efficiencies, increasing our purchase of renewable energy, improving data collection with IT, and a continued acceleration of our R&D and datacenter operations efficiency investments. The model of accountability is based on an internal carbon fee administered through our corporate finance department and cascaded globally to our business groups. This charge-back model will place a price on carbon and make the company’s business divisions responsible for the cost of offsetting the carbon emissions associated with their electricity use and air travel.
Today, we are announcing that we are making the commitment to become carbon neutral beginning with our Fiscal Year 2013 (which begins July 1st). This commitment will apply to our internal operations across more than 100 countries associated with our data centers, software development labs, offices and air travel. Our strategy is based on driving company-wide accountability resulting in greater efficiencies, increasing our purchase of renewable energy, improving data collection with IT, and a continued acceleration of our R&D and datacenter operations efficiency investments.
The model of accountability is based on an internal carbon fee administered through our corporate finance department and cascaded globally to our business groups. This charge-back model will place a price on carbon and make the company’s business divisions responsible for the cost of offsetting the carbon emissions associated with their electricity use and air travel.
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