August, 2012

  • Girls supporting girls in technology

    Editor’s Note: Recently, the Microsoft Citizenship team had the opportunity to participate in the Millennial Impact Conference, joining the Case Foundation for a chat along with two youth beneficiaries of Microsoft programs entitled, “Creating International Opportunities for Action”. One of the youth participants in the chat, Genevieve L’Esperance, a participant in a number of Microsoft programs including Innovate4Good, has expanded on the ideas she shared with us in the chat. Below, she shares more detail on the work she is doing to create opportunities for girls in the technology industry and why it matters so much to her.

    By Genevieve L’Esperance

    I am no different than any other millennial.

    The first real internship I acquired was last summer, at the age of 18. Alyssa Goodman, a professor of astrophysics at Harvard, suggested me to Curtis Wong, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, after seeing my work at a conference. I started a web channel called GenINCtv to bridge the gap between girls and the technology industry.

    I was clueless, but Curtis is what you would call a superhero. A superhero will see confusion and chaos, maintain clarity, and be a leader. He saw me as a Millennial whose power could be harnessed with the right project. He welcomed me to the WorldWide Telescope team and asked me to inspire youth with astronomy.

    Millennials can be a little nutty. Our “loyalty” as an employee is most often questioned, and I cannot necessarily argue the statistics.

    I can argue the question of “loyalty” in general.

    My work with GenINCtv has been my driving force for five years. Even with the other countless projects I have picked up and discarded, my loyalty to the cause is unwavering. Young people are often drawn to projects that appear to support a moral/social cause but often don’t fulfill those requirements, thus GenINC and the mission I undertook to educate and inform youth has always remained steadfast.

    What’s the big picture?

    [Note I am choosing female-specific stats, but the millennial population has a stagnating enrollment rate for NSE (Natural Sciences and Engineering).]

    In Engineering and Computer Science, female enrollment at the Bachelor’s level is below 20% in Canada (2008-09). That is a shortage of about 31,000 women to balance the gender gap. (NSERC Report)

    There abound a number of theories as to why. Whatever may be the root of this problem, the medium to engage those of us at risk of overlooking such career opportunities, is in need of a makeover.

    You may be asking yourself - “What on Earth is the youngling yammering about?”

    The problem: enrollment of millennials (particularly women) in technology disciplines at the college and university level.

    Solution: Start engaging students between the critical ages of 9-14. By age 12, only a small fraction of girls will pursue STEM-related courses offered by secondary institutions. This can restrict their access to many STEM faculties post-secondary and in their careers.

    Leading the way are founders Lynn Langit and Llewellyn Falco of Teaching Kids Programming. GenINCtv’s Teaching Girls Programming is a direct offshoot of this NFP and is designed to directly engage girls through classroom-based events designed to showcase how creative and rewarding programming can be with girls working side by side in a team format. TKP is now associated with the MONA Foundation.

    This program, which is a form of alternative education, is carried not only with an older age bracket but also in many developing countries.

    Your argument: Not everyone could/should be a programmer.

    My argument: Skills in logic and mathematics are beneficial no matter your career.

    Finally, how can you be sure millennials will work if engaged in a meaningful way?

    Well other than the many social revolutions being led by youth via social networks at present, consider the number of participants in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup – 358,000 competitors in just 2011. When they’re not in lectures, these students have taken it upon themselves to address the world’s toughest problems, from their college dorm room, with limited resources.

    In my opinion, millennials will never work harder than you.

    They will work more effectively, and they will work for a cause.

  • Building a strong local community through the Georgia Street Community Garden

    Our colleagues in the Windows team recently published a great video on the work and passion of community activist Mark Covington which we wanted to share.

    Mark was born and raised in Detroit and like many other Americans he lost his job in 2008, forcing him to move back home with his mother and grandmother while he figured out what do next. 

    He grew tired of seeing vacant lots in his neighborhood and decided to take action.  In 2008 he began converting a vacant lot into the Georgia Street Community Garden. Since then the project has grown and developed and it now includes a media center and library that provides a wide variety of books and six PCs that are available for people to come and use.

    The Georgia Street Community Garden has evolved from humble beginnings to a fully-fledged community hub.

    It's a great story.

  • Back to School with Microsoft: Tampa Educators, Students to Benefit from New Digital Education Initiative with City, Hillsborough County Public Schools

    By Marietta Davis, General Manager, Greater Southeast District, Microsoft Corporation

    This past Saturday, Tampa hosted “Back to School with Microsoft,” a successful event that trained more than 500 local educators as part of our efforts to modernize in-classroom teaching with Microsoft technologies, boost students’ technology skills, and emphasize the value of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning in preparation for 21st century careers. The Back to School event marks the kick-off of an exciting new effort between Microsoft, the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to implement a strategic digital education initiative across the region aimed at preparing local students for the opportunities of tomorrow’s economy.

    kelly with super and board members

    Microsoft’s Kelly Green joins Lake County School Board Member Jim Miller, Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, and School Board Member Carol Kurdell at the “Back to School” event.
    teachers in classroom - Kodu
    Local educator Stephanie Saez-Hamilton helps teachers learn how to use Kodu.

    At Microsoft, we know that science and technology are enormous drivers of innovation and job creation, but too many of our students are facing an opportunity divide – a growing gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Microsoft’s deep commitment to education and significant investments across the U.S. are aimed at closing that divide, with a focus on helping youth obtain the skills that they need while connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship. We’re thrilled to be working with the City of Tampa and HCPS to bring the best technologies to area educators in support of helping students realize their full potential.

    innovative tampa students group
    Students from The Center for Advanced Technologies, a Partners in Learning school, participated in the Saturday event and demonstrated their award winning, cutting-edge projects for Hillsborough County School attendees.

    Florida’s First School District-Wide IT Academy

    As part of this unique effort, HCPS is participating in Florida’s pilot implementation of the Microsoft IT Academy Program, which provides a complete IT education solution that bridges the world of education with the world of work in order to provide students with 21st century technology skills.

    Together with Microsoft and the Florida Department of Education, HCPS will rollout Microsoft IT Academy across its 27 high schools and 18 middle schools as a STEM-focused elective for students in the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.

    With the Microsoft IT Academy training, educators receive professional development enabling them to stay up-to-date on the latest Microsoft technologies and easily integrate these technologies into their existing curriculum and lesson plans to meet the individual learning needs of their students. What’s more, students will have access to hundreds of web-based e-learning courses and receive hands-on experiences with the latest Microsoft software and programs, giving them an edge to gaining job-ready skills and industry credentials while still in school. 

    Shaping Tampa’s Future

    This effort demonstrates our commitment to creating positive and lasting impacts in the communities in which we live and work. In the Tampa region, our commitment starts with helping youth realize new opportunities. Through Microsoft’s long-term work with the people and organizations of the Tampa Bay region, a number of training, education and community programs are beginning as well, including:

    • Microsoft’s DigiGirlz education program that will provide local middle and high school girls with the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Over the past 12 years, DigiGirlz has reached 19,000 girls in more than 20 states and 17 countries.
    • A pilot program that will feature the use of Kinect consoles in a dozen HCPS classrooms which will establish the use of interactive, gesture-based learning.
    • Microsoft's Kodu programming/game-development technology will be incorporated into the HCPS curriculum, helping students to develop IT skills by creating games on the PC and Xbox using the simple, visual programming language designed for use by children.

    In addition to Microsoft’s work with Tampa on these education and community outreach initiatives, Microsoft has also worked with the city on a variety of other programs aimed at making a real impact in the region. Notably, Microsoft recently teamed up with the Tampa Police Department on a jointly funded public safety initiative aimed at modernizing the department’s systems used for crime analysis, reporting and reduction, which included an investment in Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server technologies.

    Microsoft has also joined the board of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a public-private organization supporting economic growth and development in the region, and recently made a $25,000 commitment to the organization and its programs.

    Youth Engagement at National Political Conventions

    Later this summer, Microsoft will continue its focus on youth engagement in the Tampa area through a partnership with National Journal and The Atlantic to host a “Conversations with the Next Generation” town hall as part of the activities at the Republican National Convention. The discussion, which will be mirrored at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, will convene younger Americans and students for a dialogue on the critical issues they face as the next generation of leaders. Learn more about the town hall events here.

  • Tropical Storm Isaac

    By Molly Bull, Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft Disaster Response

    Situation Analysis: August 29, 2012

    Recently downgraded to a Tropical Storm, many continue to watch and track the progress of Isaac, which made landfall Tuesday evening in the U.S. Gulf Coast.  At landfall the storm was a Category 1 hurricane causing heavy rains and reaching wind speeds of more than 80 mph.  The slow-moving storm has spilled over levees, flooded communities, and is causing wind damage as it slowly works its way further inland.

    Latest Information

    For more information please follow NBC News or visit our disaster incident portal where we’re closely tracking information coming in from FEMA and other sources to share information on relief activities and storm movement.

    Another great source of information is the American Red Cross’s Hurricane App. It provides great information about hurricanes, what to do immediately afterwards, and location-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alerts. It will provide the information you need at your fingertips.

    How You Can Help

    Even before this hurricane made landfall, a lot of organizations were busy making preparations, gathering supplies, and educating people how to stay safe as the storm approached. Now that the hurricane has arrived, these organizations are on the front lines, providing direct relief to those who need it most.

    · AidMatrix – Working in Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Highlighting specific items being requested by relief organizations working in Louisiana.

    · American Red Cross – Providing ready-to-eat meals, setting up mobile kitchens, gathering supplies needed for relief efforts, among other activities.

    · Save the Children – Set up a Hurricane Isaac Emergency Fund to collect funds to help protect vulnerable children and provide relief to families.

  • Microsoft Builds on Community Investment in Charlotte Region, Announces Partnership with 2012 Democratic National Convention

    By: Fred Humphries, Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft

    Microsoft has been named an official innovation provider of the 2012 Democratic National Convention and Committee for Charlotte 2012. This new relationship builds on Microsoft’s long-term partnership with the City of Charlotte to help youth realize new opportunities through educational development and support.

    As an official innovation provider, Microsoft will streamline communications and enhance the convention experience for both convention organizers and participants through innovative, collaborative technology solutions like Office 365, consulting and support services, and – through our work with convention organizers and partner Interknowlogy – a touch-enabled Windows application that will allow convention delegates to cast floor votes on kiosks throughout the convention hall.

    By collaborating and innovating together, Microsoft and convention organizers are working to create an unforgettable 2012 convention experience. Microsoft has advanced new ideas and technologies that have transformed business, government and consumer experiences. We are excited to bring our solutions to the Democratic National Convention Committee and the Committee for Charlotte 2012.

    Long-Term Partnership with Charlotte

    At Microsoft, we’re committed to creating positive and lasting impacts in the communities in which we live and work. In Charlotte, our commitment is helping youth realize new opportunities.

    We know that science and technology are enormous drivers of innovation and job creation, but too many of our students are facing an opportunity divide – a growing gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Microsoft’s deep commitment to education and significant investments across the U.S. are aimed at closing that divide, with a focus on helping youth obtain the skills that they need while connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

    Our multi-year partnership with the people and organizations of the Charlotte region includes a range of training, education and community programs, such as the Microsoft IT Academy. The IT Academy, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, has increased the number of North Carolina high school students earning IT certifications from sixteen to over 30,000 in less than two school-years.

    Since 2003, the company has given charitable donations totaling more than $90.6 million including software donations in the state of North Carolina. Recently, Microsoft provided more than $2 million in software donations and support to local Charlotte region non-profits with a focus on helping youth bridge the opportunity divide by providing educational development and support, including:

    • Over $726,000 in software donations to the Urban League of the Central Carolinas, a non-partisan organization that focuses on youth, education, and economic development;
    • Approximately $718,000 to Child Care Resources, a non-profit child care resource and referral agency that works with families and communities to ensure that all children have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and school-age educational opportunities;
    • More than $410,000 in software donations to the Foundation for the Carolinas, a philanthropic organization that helps identify and meet community needs such as closing the educational achievement gap;
    • And over $149,000 in software donations and support to Charlotte WORKS, a public-private partnership that brings together area resources to educate, empower and engage Charlotte's workforce.

    Microsoft has also supported Mayor Foxx’s Youth Employment Program, sponsoring five youth jobs in the city that were funded by Microsoft. Earlier this year, Microsoft also partnered with the Mayor’s Youth Education Program to host more than 120 students from local high schools on the company’s Charlotte campus for a job shadowing and career exploration event. In addition, Microsoft has launched “Kinnecting After School,” a pilot program in partnership with the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs (NCCAP) which offers Xbox 360s and Kinect systems for use by afterschool programs across North Carolina.

    “As Mayor of Charlotte, I’m committed to making sure our young people have the skills they need to successfully pursue whatever career path they choose,” Mayor Anthony Foxx said. “To that end, I’m very grateful to Microsoft for their generous support of both my DNC youth employment legacy initiative and the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program. Together, we’re working to prepare Charlotte’s youth to enter the workforce and help provide them with a bright and prosperous future.”

    In addition to Microsoft’s education and community outreach work in Charlotte, Microsoft has teamed with the city and partner, Tribridge, to develop and implement a city-wide event permitting solution based on CRM Dynamics Online. This first-of-its-kind application will create enormous benefit for Charlotte in the near-term for convention-related events, but also in the long-term for the city’s future growth and development.

    Finally, Charlotte will be the scene of an important conversation in coming weeks about the challenges and opportunities facing youth. As part of Microsoft’s engagement in the 2012 national political conventions, we are partnering with National Journal and The Atlantic to host a “Conversations with the Next Generation” town hall as part of the activities at the Democratic National Convention. The discussion, which will be mirrored at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, will convene younger Americans and students for a dialogue on the critical issues they face as the next generation of leaders.

    We are excited that several Charlotte participants are among the panelists for this important discussion, including Johnson C. Smith University student Charles Hauser and Johnson C. Smith President Dr. Ronald Carter. They join other leaders including StudentsFirst Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee and Young Democrats President Rod Snyder, as well as event moderators such as NBC Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton, and the National Journal’s Chris Frates. In addition, students from several North Carolina universities will participate in the town hall.

    Learn more about Microsoft’s work in Tampa and the Conversations with the Next Generation town hall events.

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