September, 2012

  • Microsoft YouthSpark: A new chapter in Citizenship at Microsoft

    Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs

    Earlier today our CEO Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft YouthSpark, a new company-wide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people over the next three years.

    We’ve created Microsoft YouthSpark in response to the challenges facing youth around the world. The nature of the challenges vary region-by-region, but the unfortunate outcome is the same everywhere. There are new skills and experiences required for jobs, but our collective approach to educating and supporting young people is falling behind. The evidence for this is clear. Among others, the International Youth Foundation identified these troubling global trends.

    In Latin America, more young people than ever have access to education, but too many drop out of school or graduate without having acquired basic skills.

    In Brazil, approximately 40% of firms have difficulty finding qualified staff to fill vacancies due to low quality education.

    In contrast, there are a growing number of youth in the Middle East and North Africa who have university degrees, but they are more likely to be unemployed than their less-educated peers due to the realities of the job market in the region.

    This region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world (approximately 25%) and to avoid increases in this rate, 15 million new jobs per year will need to be created over the next decade.

    Another contrast exists in Central and Eastern Europe, where the challenge is a dramatic decline in the working age population, due to emigration and poor health. Those who remain are more likely to have “traditional skills” and lack more enterprising “life skills” needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

    40% of private sector employers believe low workforce skills are constraining economic growth.

    In North American and Western Europe, despite educational opportunities for many, the jobs crisis has led to a growing number of NEET youth – those Not engaged in Education, Employment or Training – and they can quickly become marginalized, creating even more costs for society.

    Conservative estimates in the European labor market show that if just 20% more youth were working, the EU would save more than 21 billion Euros per year.

    In Asia, we see a large number of working poor, particularly in rural environments, and a lack of technical/vocational training to open new opportunities.

    In Asia, 70% of working youth are engaged in the agricultural sector where jobs are seasonal and offer no protections or access to safety nets.

    In Sub-Saharan African, we see deceptively low youth unemployment rates because youth are working at very low-skilled, low quality jobs simply to survive with no hope of pay that will lift them out of poverty.

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, youth are grossly underemployed leaving 72% of youth living on less than US $2 per day.

    These are some daunting statistics. But, at Microsoft we pride ourselves on taking on big challenges and this is no different for our Citizenship work. We continually review and analyze how we can do more to address pressing economic and social challenges. We believe we must move beyond bridging not only the digital divide but also the opportunity divide for youth -- an emerging gap between young people who have the education, skills and opportunities they need to succeed and those who do not.

    Bridging the opportunity divide means more than increasing technology access, although that is still critically important. It means empowering youth by transforming education and enhancing skills training, unleashing future innovators by providing youth with the inspiration and tools to imagine new opportunities, and helping young people find employment or start a new business or social venture.

    Through Microsoft YouthSpark, we are mobilizing our company and partnering with governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to help close the opportunity divide for youth.

    This is a new focus for our philanthropy efforts. We are committing the majority of our corporate cash giving to support nonprofits that serve youth and we are announcing a number of new Citizenship programs. But, Microsoft YouthSpark goes beyond philanthropy.

    We are activating the company around this challenge because that’s how we can have the greatest impact. We will help young people access a wide range of Microsoft programs that share the common objective of supporting and serving young people in their quest for opportunity. This includes, among others, Partners in Learning, Office 365 for Education, Skype in the Classroom, DreamSpark, Imagine Cup, and BizSpark.

    Through Microsoft YouthSpark, we will help empower youth to change their world…to reverse those daunting statistics, and to carve a new path for their future and ours.

    Please join us. How can you be the spark of change?

     

     

     

    Resources:

  • Research uncovers the reality of cloud computing for nonprofits

    10,500 NGOs Worldwide Respond to the TechSoup Global Cloud Computing Survey 

    Editor’s Note: We work with TechSoup Global to deliver our nonprofit software donations program to tens of thousands of nonprofits around the world every year. In addition to donations we collaborate to ensure nonprofits have the tools necessary to effectively deploy that technology and grow their impact.  TechSoup Global’s Dan Webb  provides highlights from their newly published 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey and a look at what’s next.

    By Dan Webb, Director of Services and Solutions, TechSoup Global

    TechSoup Global has announced the results of its 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey of 10,500 nonprofits, charities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 88 countries.

    At TechSoup Global, we’ve long worked with partners, like Microsoft, to bring available technology to nonprofit organizations. Together, TechSoup Global and Microsoft have enabled more than 180,000 nonprofits around the world to save more than US $3.2 billion in IT expenses. And we want to make certain organizations can effectively use the technology, not just to increase their own efficiency, but to better serve and transform their communities.

    Cloud computing is the next frontier for NGOs. It changes what’s possible for organizations on the ground. To understand the opportunities and challenges in adopting cloud computing, we conducted a worldwide survey of NGOs. We fielded our survey in May of this year and reached organizations in 88 countries. As a global organization, we are very interested in the worldwide results, but we are also interested in understanding what cloud computing means country by country, region by region. To this end, we translated the survey into 21 languages and received statistically significant results (over 100 responses) in 26 countries. More than 10,500 organizations worldwide spent the time to help us figure out what cloud computing means to them. You can read the full report in English. The TechSoup Global Network has also translated the executive summary into local languages.

    What we have learned in this survey is consistent with research studies released by organizations like NTEN.

    We found out about the advantages of cloud computing from the NGO perspective:

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    We learned about the barriers:

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    And we learned about the motivators:

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    Taken together, we feel that the we — and by we I mean TechSoup Global, our worldwide network, and every capacity builder, funder, and technology expert who works in this field — can do more to make the cloud even easier. We need to fully understand the business processes of the organizations we serve. And we need to build solutions that meet the needs of organizations and, as much as possible, meet them where they are.

    We need solutions that include an ability to ask a question of an expert or another NGO user. We need solutions, like those from AidMatrix, that are for specific types of organizations. We need solutions that address security concerns in a language organizations can recognize.

    In short, we need solutions. And the cloud can enable us to offer those solutions broadly, to provide data back to organizations, and to determine benchmarks for services that can be used by funders and others. We just have to do it.

    When we start doing this, we will be closer to achieving our goal: offering technology that feels effortless to the users and allows them to spend their time working on their communities’ most pressing issues.

  • 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.

  • “Conversations with the Next Generation” Town Hall Held at Democratic National Convention

    This week Microsoft, in partnership with National Journal and The Atlantic, hosted Conversations with the Next Generation, a youth town hall in Charlotte, N.C. The conversation, convened in the midst of the Democratic National Convention, focused on critical issues for young Americans, including the economy, jobs and education.  This followed a similar event at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL last week.

     

    Town hall participants included actors and young leaders such as former White House public outreach aide Kal Penn, Voto Latino leader America Ferrera, The Creative Coalition member Alfre Woodard, StudentsFirst Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee, MTV’s Andrew Jenks, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Young Democrats President Rod Snyder and local education leaders including Johnson C. Smith University President Dr. Ronald Carter and student Charles Hauser. Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President, also participated, offering opening remarks for the town hall.

    You can find out more about the event on the ‘Microsoft on the Issues’ blog and we’ve included some video highlights below.

    Mayor Kasim Reed at "Conversations with the Next Generation" Charlotte Town Hall

    Kal Penn at "Conversations with the Next Generation" Charlotte Town Hall

    Michelle Rhee at "Conversations with the Next Generation" Charlotte Town Hall

  • Anyone Can Be the Spark of Change

    By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs

    Around the world, new skills and experiences are needed for new economies to succeed, but the approach to educating and training young people for this new world is not keeping pace. On Sunday, I had the honor of hosting an engaging panel at the Mashable Social Good Summit in New York, focused on a topic we at Microsoft care deeply about – helping to close the opportunity divide among the world’s young people. This divide is separating those who have access, skills and opportunities for success from those who do not, and when you consider youth unemployment globally is currently double that of the adult population, it is easy to see how critical it is that we find new ways to close this chasm.

    To help lend a voice to this issue, I was joined by Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and president of GlobalGiving Foundation, which helps social entrepreneurs and non-profits raise the money that they need to improve their communities; and by Microsoft Researcher danah boyd, who through her research is exploring how social and digital networking can help support youth in taking responsible risks to achieve success. We were also joined by Mary Mwende and Anthony Carmona, two very inspirational young people whose diverse, personal experiences illustrate how together we can help youth succeed.

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    The panelists gather at Mashable Social Good Summit: (left to right) Lori Harnick, General Manager of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft Citizenship; Mary Mwende, a Global Give Back Circle youth beneficiary; Anthony Carmona, a NFTE youth beneficiary; danah boyd, a senior researcher with Microsoft Research and Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and president of GlobalGiving Foundation.

    For Mary, her journey started in the slums of Mombasa, Kenya, and with the support of Microsoft partner Global Give Back Circle, has brought her all the way to American University of Dubai. For Anthony, a high school student in New York City, his involvement with Microsoft partner Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) helped him realize the dream of creating his own business, to provide computer and networking support to people in their homes. Both Mary and Anthony’s experiences, while different, demonstrate how non-profits, corporations and even individuals can help be a force for change in the lives of young people. Mary noted that the investments of time, energy and most importantly, resources --including financial –are the tools that young people need to not only dream big, but to realize that dream. Mari reinforced this, sharing that by applying a model of micro-giving to the opportunity divide problem, anyone around the world can help provide those essential resources to the places and people who need it most.

    That’s why we partnered with GlobalGiving Foundation to create Give for Youth, a micro-giving website dedicated to helping individuals fund and follow the dreams of young people across the globe. Give for Youth is a key part of our new companywide initiative, Microsoft YouthSpark, which our CEO Steve Ballmer announced last week to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years.

    We want to help more young people like Mary and Anthony, and we know many others want to do the same. So, now through Oct. 1st, Microsoft will match all individual donations made through Give for Youth, up to a total of $100,000. We know these efforts cannot solve every problem, but helping individuals, one-by-one, will go a long way toward creating real and lasting impact in communities big and small. Join us. Donate today, and be the spark of change for youth around the world. Mary, who is now giving back herself through the development of the website Hey Sister, “Get Clued-Up” summed it up best at the end of our discussion when she said, “Nothing comes from nothing. Invest in youth.”

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