September, 2012

  • Creating Opportunities for Success

    Editor’s Note: Last week we announced Microsoft YouthSpark a new company wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people. A key part of YouthSpark is the work we are doing with nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people access education, employment and entrepreneurship.  Globally, our nonprofit cash grant recipients have been carefully selected with a focus on these specific outcomes. In the United States we’ll be focusing the majority of our nonprofit cash grants on five national nonprofit partners Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement, NFTE and Year Up. We wanted to share how they will be working as part of YouthSpark and today Amy Rosen, President and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) shares her perspective.

    By Amy Rosen, President and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

    The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is thrilled to join Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative. For 25 years, NFTE has been inspiring young people to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures. We, like Microsoft, are committed to empowering youth to imagine and experience the promise of the future. NFTE’s maturing partnership with Microsoft will help to facilitate the expansion of these opportunities for young people domestically and globally.

    Meeting our goal to reach an additional 500,000 young people in the next five years, which will double the reach of our first 25 years, will require an entire new approach to our work and program. To achieve this goal, NFTE is undergoing an ambitious transformation that will enhance our impact, particularly related to creating opportunity for at-risk youth in a technology-enabled economy.

    A critical component of this change is NFTE’s vision that all young people can develop an entrepreneurial mindset and therefore be better prepared to participate in the formal economy as business owners or productive members of the workforce. Building an entrepreneurial mindset in young people is exactly what our work with Microsoft will accomplish.

    NFTE’s World Series of Innovation, which is presented by Microsoft, is a fun, experiential project-based activity that inspires young people worldwide to think creatively and invent new products or services that address everyday needs. This year, in honor of our 25th anniversary, we expect to have submissions from 25 countries. In addition, on September 29th, NFTE will host Innovation Saturday events across the country to bring this exciting opportunity to many more young people. Using the award-winning NFTE curriculum and innovation activities provided with the World Series of Innovation toolkit, teams of at least two or more students will select a challenge category, brainstorm ideas, and work to complete all phases of the submission form. Before and during Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov 6 – 16) you will be able to vote for the winners at www.innovation.nfte.com. Head to the website now if you know a young person who’d like to participate or a teacher who might want to use the project in their classroom.

    NFTE

    NYC Generation Tech students brainstorming logo ideas

    Leveraging technology for learning is another key component of our expanded Microsoft partnership. In the coming year, we will build the foundation for the NFTE Digital Classroom to connect NFTE classrooms, provide opportunities for nationwide collaboration, and create new digital content, enhancing our efforts to bring the highest quality entrepreneurship education program to many more at-risk young people.

    Additionally, Microsoft will help NFTE launch two new pilot programs that link entrepreneurship education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education more explicitly. The first, NFTE Math being piloted in D.C., aligns NFTE’s proven curriculum with 7th Grade Core Standards. Through the highly engaging lens of entrepreneurship, struggling math students will work through a program designed to support common core math standards. Recent research indicates the achievement gap for students becomes most apparent in middle school, and our math program will allow us to reach these at-risk students sooner while linking math to a real world, relevant experience.

    Generation Tech NYC, a New York City pilot program also supported by Microsoft, is a launching pad for cultivating the next generation of home-grown, technology literate, entrepreneurial citizens who will thrive in New York City's growing tech startup sector. By working through either the development of a mobile or tablet app and the business plan for that product simultaneously, NFTE is using the lean start up mentality to show young people exactly what it is like to be a technology entrepreneur in today’s marketplace.

    Instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in all young people is critical for success in a global economy. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is committed to giving at-risk youth around the world the opportunity to flourish, and we are proud to partner with Microsoft’s YouthSpark. This collaboration represents how corporations and organizations can harness their strengths to collectively make an impact for the future.

  • Microsoft’s Partnership with Junior Achievement Gives Students Glimpse into the Tech Work World

    Editor’s Note: Last week we announced Microsoft YouthSpark a new company wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people. A key part of YouthSpark is the work we are doing with nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people access education, employment and entrepreneurship.  Globally, our nonprofit cash grant recipients have been carefully selected with a focus on these specific outcomes. In the United States we’ll be focusing the majority of our nonprofit cash grants on five national nonprofit partners Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement, NFTE and Year Up. We wanted to share how they will be working as part of YouthSpark and today Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA shares his perspective.

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    By Jack E. Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA®

    At Junior Achievement USA (JA), we have been working to empower young people to own their economic success for nearly 100 years. It is through new and innovative partnerships that we are able to keep providing the most current, inventive and engaging programs for the more than 4.2 million students we serve across the United States each year.

    Through the recent Microsoft YouthSpark program, Junior Achievement USA is excited to be one of five nonprofit recipients of Microsoft’s generous contributions that serve youth around the world. The decision by Microsoft to invest time, money and talent into further educating the next generation shows their commitment to helping people realize their full potential and to creating economic opportunity.

    Junior Achievement is joining forces with Microsoft to provide high school students across the United States with real-life work experiences in Microsoft retail stores. Through the JA Job ShadowTM program, students are introduced to careers through on-site mentoring experiences. This authentic work-world experience teaches students effective interviewing skills, how to prepare resumes and how to evaluate their work-readiness skills.

    As new Microsoft stores open across the country, JA students will learn more about Microsoft as a company, how the Microsoft stores operate and the different roles and responsibilities of Microsoft employees. Later this week, on Friday, Sept. 28, the first two JA Job Shadow events will take place in Long Island and Westchester, New York. There will be more than 30 other locations across the country that will participate in the JA Job Shadow experience with JA students in the year ahead.

    Providing JA students with job shadow experiences helps them learn the educational background and skills they need to succeed on the job. Students can see firsthand what a day in the work world is like. Junior Achievement thinks it is important to bring students into the business world through classroom instruction followed by on-site mentoring in which students get to work with their job shadow host—in this case, Microsoft.

    Junior Achievement strives to be a leader in relevant 21st century learning and is continuing to create innovative methods of delivery for our programs in order to enhance our students’ experiences.

    The job shadow experience will give students a hands-on opportunity to meet Microsoft employees, and learn about various positions available at Microsoft. JA Job Shadow inspires students to be entrepreneurial in their approach to work by introducing them to innovative and creative solutions in the workplace. Additionally, they learn the basic skills that will make them valuable assets to any employer.

    Introducing the next generation of workers to the wide array of talent and expertise at Microsoft will help Junior Achievement fulfill its mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Junior Achievement looks forward to working with Microsoft on this exciting and innovative partnership.

  • Microsoft's YouthSpark Invests in City Year's Work to keep Students in School

    Editor’s Note: Last week we announced Microsoft YouthSpark a new company wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people. A key part of YouthSpark is the work we are doing with nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people access education, employment and entrepreneurship.  Globally, our nonprofit cash grant recipients have been carefully selected with a focus on these specific outcomes. In the United States we’ll be focusing the majority of our nonprofit cash grants on five national nonprofit partners Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement, NFTE and Year Up. We wanted to share how they will be working as part of YouthSpark and today Michael Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of City Year shares his perspective.

     

    By Michael Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of City Year

     

    City Year is honored to be selected to receive support from Microsoft through its newly launched YouthSpark initiative, and we are pleased to welcome Microsoft as City Year’s newest National Leadership Sponsor. The YouthSpark initiative's mission is to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world through various programs, including three-year support for national U.S. nonprofit organizations. We at City Year are tremendously grateful to partner with Microsoft to keep students in high-poverty schools in school and on track to graduation.

    Last year, Microsoft invested in a team of City Year corps members serving in the Diplomas Now collaboration at Newtown High School in New York City. The success of this team of inspirational young adults has led to this new exciting partnership. Microsoft’s support for City Year’s work as part of the Diplomas Now collaboration, which you can learn more in this feature story, is allowing us to deliver comprehensive and validated impact on the nation’s lowest-performing schools, where we address the early warning indicators – poor attendance, behavior and course performance – that predict whether a student is likely to drop out of school. Diplomas Now’s transformational national model is designed to help close the achievement gap, ensuring that students receive the right intervention at the right time to succeed in school.

    As part of Microsoft’s grant to City Year, Microsoft will sponsor City Year teams in three Diplomas Now schools in New York City, Chicago and Seattle, making it possible for us to deploy diverse teams of young adults in full-time service to these high-need schools as tutors, mentors and role models. In each school, trained City Year corps members support students every day, all day, year after year. They partner with schools to deliver evidence-based interventions, providing individual attention to help students succeed.  

    City YearCity Year corps member provides one-on-one tutoring to students

    Microsoft’s support will play a vital role in helping City Year to achieve our Long-Term Impact goal. This goal, announced at our May 2012 In School & On Track National Leadership Summit with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, is to ensure that 80 percent of students in City Year schools reach 10th grade successfully—nearly doubling the current rate of 44 percent—which will mean they are four times more likely to graduate. City Year also seeks to reach 50 percent of the off-track students in all of its markets and expand to reach the cities that account for two-thirds of the nation’s urban dropouts. Over the next 10 years, City Year aims to serve close to one million students a day.

    Thanks to Microsoft’s generous support, City Year is able to improve our national math capacity to reach close to 8,500 students for one-on-one math tutoring. Our national program design team will now be able to carry out key activities, including preparing online content, testing math activities in the field before being implemented nationwide, packaging site-specific best practices for national distribution and creating a framework for a Sharepoint resource library.

    Since 1999, Microsoft has been a valued technology partner of City Year providing over $19.4 million in software to ensure City Year’s network is fully integrated to leverage communications and collaboration for service impact.

    Microsoft shares our vision to prepare our youth to compete in a modern workforce by keeping them in school and on track to graduate. With Microsoft’s support, City Year can scale to reach an unprecedented number of youth in high-poverty schools nationwide, ensuring the right students receive the right interventions at the right time. Together, we can dramatically improve the graduation pipeline in America.

  • Day of Caring – A tradition of service, a celebration of giving

    Participating in United Way of King County’s Day of Caring has been a long-standing tradition at Microsoft. Since 1992, Microsoft employees in the greater-Seattle area provide a day of service for nonprofits in need of extra hands and in the process we get to know our neighborhood organizations a little better. Last Friday, over 5,000 Microsoft employees volunteered for this year’s United Way Day of Caring, supporting over 200 projects.

    This year the Citizenship team got together with the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group and the Microsoft Alumni Foundation and spent the day at the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club in Greenwood. The North Seattle location is King County’s oldest club, with a long history of being a fun place for area kids to get help with homework, learn new skills, or just hang out with friends. As the club works to expand the number of kids it will serve this year, our group tackled a number of projects to spruce up the interior and surroundings.

    The project at the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club required the work of over 80 volunteers to reseed and level the adjacent sports field, weed and clean-up landscaping surrounding the building, and paint the games room and offices inside. A great day was made even better by some local parents who offered to cook-out for us and provide homemade food for all of the volunteers. We ate well!

    To learn more about the programs offered through the Boys & Girls Club or to discover volunteer opportunities, visit North Seattle Boys & Girls Club or United Way of King County.

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    Citizenship & Public Affairs Team at North Seattle Boys & Girls Club for United Way of King County’s Day of Caring 2012.

  • Youth Stories with a Side of Toast—Reflections from a New York City Breakfast Discussion

    Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft

    This morning, I had the opportunity to start my day with an inspiring conversation about the challenges facing today’s youth and how we can work to solve them. I was joined by over 70 participants who came to hear from two youth representatives and a youth-focused organization on a panel called, “Bridging the Opportunity Divide – Empowering Youth to Imagine and Realize their Futures.” Lori Harnick, Microsoft’s general manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs also joined in the panel discussion.

    Our gathering in New York came on the heels of the Microsoft YouthSpark launch last week where Steve Ballmer, our CEO, and Brad Smith, executive vice president, discussed Microsoft’s new focus for the company’s philanthropic efforts; namely, that the company is concentrating on addressing the opportunity divide facing youth. Microsoft YouthSpark is a new company-wide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years. The initiative brings together an array of existing, new and enhanced global programs and partnerships that connect young people with better education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Because we know we can’t do this alone, we are committing the majority of our corporate cash giving to support nonprofits that serve youth.

    Today’s youth panel was truly inspiring for me. Talking about global youth issues from a high-level is one thing, but it is so much more impactful and inspiring to sit down with young people and hear their stories of challenge and success directly.

    Mary Mwende told us about her journey from Mombasa, Kenya, to being one of ten girls chosen for the Global Give Back Circle, a mentoring and empowerment program. From here she was selected to take a Microsoft ICT course, where she learned about the power of technology for connecting people around the world. In 2009, she was recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and today she gives back through the Global Give Back Circle website “Hey Sister, Get Clued Up” and attends the American University in Dubai. A video of her story is here.   image
    Matt Howard is a young man who is involved with one of Microsoft’s newly announced youth partner nonprofits, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). NFTE and four other youth nonprofits will receive new funding from Microsoft to enhance existing youth programs or start new initiatives. During the panel, Matt shared his story about how his interest in poetry and introduction to NFTE helped turn his life around, and helped him develop an online platform for artists “CreaTistZone”.   image
    Peter Shiras joined us from another great youth organization, the International Youth Foundation (IYF). Microsoft commissioned a report with IYF chronicling the opportunity divide which was published in March this year. Peter has extensive international experience in Latin America and Africa and discussed the problems and solutions he sees from the ground. In particular, he talked about New Employment Opportunities (NEO), a partnership between Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and a consortium of companies that focuses on creating millions of opportunities for youth in LATAM. Peter believes that the consortium is an attractive model that can be replicated in other regions of the world.   image

     

    It’s so encouraging to me that Microsoft can partner with nonprofits that care as deeply as we do about helping youth reach their full potential. I’m also always impressed by the ingenuity, charisma and passion of young leaders, like Mary and Matt that are cutting a path for their generation. Matt said it best during the discussion when he noted, “When you help someone else realize their dreams, know that you are also making your own dreams real.”

    If you would like to become involved personally in empowering youth, visit the Give for Youth micro-giving marketplace. From here you can view real youth causes and support youth-focused nonprofits directly. Lori Harnick announced yesterday, during the Mashable Social Good Summit, that Microsoft would match individual donations through Give for Youth, through October 1st and up to $100,000. We are so excited to announce that, thanks to the generous donations of the community, in less than 24 hours $100,000 has already been donated. So today, we are extending that matching commitment by another $100,000. For more information on Microsoft YouthSpark, I encourage you to check out Brad Smith’s blog post and a video of Steve Ballmer making the announcement during the live campus event.

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