December, 2012

  • Microsoft Citizenship: 2012 in Photos


    During the World Economic Forum in January, we hosted a roundtable discussion with experts from around the globe to discuss the challenges facing young people around the world.


    Also during the World Economic Forum, representatives of the first teams to win Imagine Cup Grants met with Microsoft Founder and Chairman Bill Gates to discuss their projects. Left to right: Francisco Perez from Ecuador, Dominik Tomičević from Croatia, Bill Gates, Mohammad Lu’ay Alazzam from Jordan, and Jason Mitsuyuki Wakizaka from the United States.


    Mohammad Lu’ay Alazzam from Team OaSys, based in Jordan, discussed their project with Bill. Horizon is a software and hardware system that allows people who do not have use of their hands/arms to use a computer. Specifically, it tracks head movements and translates these movements into mouse movements. Users get full control of a computer and a cellphone, and can browse the internet, type and connect with ease and at a low cost.


    In January, Skype showcased their Disaster Response platform.



    In March we held our first Innovate for Good event on our campus in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities.


    Some of the Microsoft Citizenship team participating in the #CSRChat on Twitter in April.


    In April, Innovate for Good visits Egypt.


    James Rooney shows a Windows tablet at the Microsoft Citizenship booth at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco in April.


    In May, Innovate for Good reached Singapore.


    And then Innovate for Good moved on to Brussels.


    In June we made the Local Impact Map available to nonprofits.


    In August we partnered with National Journal and The Atlantic to host town halls at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions focused on discussing the issues facing America’s young and emerging workforce.


    In June, we held an Innovate For Good event in Beijing.


    On September 20th we announced Microsoft YouthSpark, our companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years. You can find out more about Microsoft YouthSpark here.


    In September we hosted an engaging panel at the Mashable Social Good Summit in New York, focused on helping close the opportunity divide among the world’s young people. Along with Lori Harnick, General Manager or Citizenship & Public Affairs at Microsoft were Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and president of GlobalGiving Foundation, Microsoft Researcher danah boyd, and Mary Mwende and Anthony Carmona, two inspirational young people whose diverse, personal experiences illustrate how together we can help youth succeed.


    On September 27th Microsoft launched a detailed whitepaper documenting ideas for a National Talent Strategy that would help secure U.S. competitiveness and economic growth at an event at the Brookings Institution.


    In September, 5,000 Microsoft employees volunteered for this year’s United Way Day of Caring, supporting over 200 projects. Here’s some of the Citizenship team hard at work.


    October is the month of Giving at Microsoft when our people in the United States show their passion and commitment to the nonprofits and community groups they support. The first large scale event is traditionally the 5K run – this year over just under 3,000 people ran, jogged and strolled along the course raising money for their chosen nonprofit. The youngest participant was Mackenzie Croswell who was just 4 weeks old. Here's Mom (Lorna Croswell) and Mackenzie at the start line (Thanks to Mackenzie’s dad John Croswell for sharing).


    The Cats of Microsoft calendar is just one, albeit a popular one, of thousands of innovative ways Microsoft employees raise funds during our month of Giving every October.


    In October we had a special event with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman and Founder Bill Gates to commemorate Microsoft’s 30th Employee Giving Campaign during a special town hall event. It included the announcement that Microsoft employees have raised $1 billion in cash since 1983 for more than 31,000 nonprofits and community organizations in the U.S. and around the world.


    In October, we released our 2012 Citizenship Report.


    Also in October, Windows 8 launched around the world, and it’s now available to nonprofits via the Microsoft software donations program.


    In November, as part of Microsoft YouthSpark, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron along with Luke Hennerley, David Robertson, Cheyenne Brown, Ben Freeman and Charlie Gilbert announced Get On outside 10 Downing Street. Get On aims to help 300,000 unemployed young people in the UK.


    Also during November, as part of the launch of YouthSpark in Argentina, Microsoft's Brad Smith met with the board of Argentinean nonprofit Fundacion Equidad to witness the great work it is doing providing IT skills and job placement for youth. He also met with beneficiaries Florencia Ordoñez, Jonathan Quaranta, and Marcos Bogarin. The YouthSpark grant to Fundacion Equidad will support 5,000 beneficiaries in Argentina.


    In what will hopefully become a new tradition, November 25th was the very first Giving Tuesday.


    In December, the the second annual Imagine Cup Grant winners were announced at the Social Innovation Summit in Mountain View, California. The teams, which came from Germany, Australia, Egypt, Uganda and Ukraine, spent the week meeting advisors, venture capitalists and social entrepreneurs, while still managing to fit in some sightseeing in San Francisco and Seattle.


    In December, we announced that Windows 8 is now available in the Cherokee language.

  • Top 12 Posts of 2012

    2012 was a busy year. One of the highlights for us was the launch of Microsoft YouthSpark, a new company-wide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people over the next three years in education, employment and entrepreneurship. 2012 was also our 30th employee giving campaign and this year Microsoft employees topped $1 billion dollars in giving with corporate match since 1983.

    As 2012 comes to a close and we look forward to 2013, here are some of the most popular posts from 2012 on the Citizenship blog.

    1. Microsoft YouthSpark: A new chapter in Citizenship at Microsoft

    “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.”

    2. Video: A special event for employee giving at Microsoft

    “Since 1983 Microsoft employees have raised $1 billion, with corporate match, for over 31,000 nonprofits working around the world.”

    3. Meet the Imagine Cup students turned social entrepreneurs

    “The Imagine Cup Grants program is a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help Imagine Cup participants take their ideas and their projects and transform them into a business or nonprofit that can bring the benefit of their technology to the communities that need it most.”

    4. Windows 8 now available for nonprofit donations

    “Windows 8 represents a reimagining of Windows. It provides a personalized experience with a beautiful new user interface that puts you at the center.”

    5. Did you hear about our 35,500 employee philanthropists?

    “Employees like Toby Velte who volunteers at his daughter’s school via EduConnect and teaches students about careers in technology. Toby rallied a team of Microsoft parents to raise money to fund a PC lab in their school district to teach students programming via the Kodu Games Labs.”

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

    “When you help someone else realize their dreams, know that you are also making your own dreams real.”

    7. From Seattle to Singapore: How Microsoft is taking lessons from young people

    “We must actively enable young people to overcome unique issues that no other generation has faced.”

    8. How does a nonprofit use technology to support global operations?

    “We view technology as a strategic asset…We’re also embedding technology in our field operations, both to deliver programs and to put technology into people’s hands so they can use it to improve their lives and livelihoods. This is at the heart of achieving sustainable change for the world’s poorest people.”

    9. 2012 Microsoft Citizenship Report now available

    “The Citizenship Report, in particular, outlines Microsoft’s citizenship goals, progress, and next steps in our responsible work practices and service to communities as part of our company commitment to making a real impact for a better tomorrow everywhere we do business.”

    10. Putting a spotlight on the opportunity divide for youth around the world

    “At a time when we have more young people – 1.2 billion – than at any time in the planet’s history, there’s an urgent need to provide them with the education, skills and employment opportunities they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.”

    11. Geena Davis: If Girls Can See It, They Can Be It

    “Geena Davis, the first woman president of the United States—on television, that is—spoke to Microsoft employees on Monday about the imbalance of gender in the media and empowering girls and young women.”

    12. Girls supporting girls in technology

    “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.”

  • Microsoft Adds the Cherokee Language to Windows 8

    Editor’s note: Today we’re announcing support for the Cherokee language in Windows 8 as part of the Microsoft Local Language Program. The availability is a testament to the Cherokee Nation and their continued commitment to strengthen their language and sustain their culture for future generations.

    By Carla Hurd, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Local Language Program

    When your speaker base is shrinking and your culture as you know it will be lost forever, what do you do? The Cherokee Nation is no stranger to the concept of language preservation. They have been a leader and exemplary example to all. This wasn’t always the case: a survey taken more than a decade ago found there were no Cherokees under the age of 40 considered conversational. Today, they have a speaker base of about 16,000. They knew that in order to sustain their language and culture for future generations, that’s exactly who they needed to start with – future generations.


    When a language declines it usually starts with younger generations; they do not speak the language, then their children don’t speak the language, and so on. Before you know it, a small group of elders are the last speakers, and then the language goes extinct. This is not the case with Cherokee. The Cherokee Nation took action. As a result in 2001, they invested in Cherokee language immersion schools starting with preschool. This provided an environment for their children to be exposed to the language and culture while using it as part of their everyday activities, including technology. In the school, there is no English allowed; only Cherokee is spoken. Those children who first started in the immersion charter school are now in 7th grade, still continuing their Cherokee education and embracing their culture.

    Today technology is deeply integrated into our everyday lives – if that technology is not provided in the user’s native tongue, then they will use whatever language is accessible to them. That is why Microsoft believed it was important to work with the Cherokee Nation Language Team on creating access to our products in their language.

    The journey began over three years ago and as a result, we are pleased to provide a Language Interface Pack (LIP) for Windows in the Cherokee Language. This LIP translates and displays most of the commonly used user interface of Windows into Cherokee. Part of the process presented challenges as there were many terms which did not exist in the Cherokee language. When terminology did not exist, the translation team had to rely on elders or ancient texts for reference in order to assist in creating a new word as required for the translation. In addition, a new modern sans-serif user interface font Gadugi - the Cherokee word for “working together” - was developed to allow the localization and maintain the Windows 8 design style. This font supplements the more traditional Plantagenet Cherokee font that’s been part of Windows since Windows Vista.


    The Windows 8 settings screen in Cherokee


    More about the Microsoft Local Language Program

    The Microsoft Local Language Program provides people access to technology in a familiar language while respecting linguistic and cultural distinctions. The program bridges the gap to technology through language and culture as well as empowers individuals in local communities to create economic opportunities, build IT skills, enhance education outcomes, and sustain their local language and culture for future generations.

    For more information on the Microsoft Local Language Program please visit

  • YouthSpark in action: Adrian Ordoñez Tostega

    By Megan West, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft

    Adrian Ordoñez Tostega spent the past few months in the Seattle area volunteering with a local nonprofit focused on helping immigrant families learn relevant technology skills to improve their employability. Adrian, who hails from Mexico, is a member of the Innovate for Good program and we had the opportunity to catch up with him last week.

    He has created Tech4Kids which aims to teach children in primary school the basics of computer programming through videogames and robotics, and builds familiarity and trust with technology at a young age. Adrian hopes that by introducing technology through these channels at a younger age, students will have more options as they look for college programs or employment later in life.

    Adrian is passionate about using his computer science skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world. This passion, paired with the help of Innovate for Good and the Sprout e-course, has taken Tech4Kids from a mere concept, to a viable venture with a business plan and funding goals. Adrian is prepping to launch Tech4Kids in his hometown of Veracruz, Mexico after he graduates from University in June.

    Supporting Adrian’s work is a great example of how Innovate for Good provides a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities. As part of its goal to provide members with resources and information on building and maintain a social venture, Innovate for Good offers the nine week Sprout e-course.

    Innovate for Good is part of Microsoft YouthSpark and is operated in partnership with TakingITGlobal, who through the Sprout-e course takes participants through each step of the venture development process with a high level of interaction and one-on-one mentoring.


  • Microsoft and City Year Team Up to Improve Math Education

    This blog is written by Travis Holloway, Math Project Leader at City Year New York. It was originally posted on the City Year New York blog. For more information about City Year please visit City Year is a national partner of Microsoft YouthSpark.




    This time last year, I had the great opportunity to serve on the Microsoft sponsored team at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. I was able to introduce the math teaching staff at Newtown to Microsoft tools like Microsoft Mathematics and Worksheet Generator they could utilize to support their in-class instruction. This year, as the Math Project Leader for City Year New York, I’ve been partnering with Microsoft, a City Year National Leadership Sponsor and City Year New York Team Sponsor, around our educational support. From this relationship, I, along with three other members of the City Year New York community, had the privilege of attending a two-day training with Microsoft.

    The Microsoft Innovative Educator program is geared toward training teacher trainers. MIE provides “educational trainers the opportunity to deepen and expand their skills on integrating technology to positively impact teaching and learning”. Over the course of the two days of training, participants were introduced to—and explored—a variety of tools, most of which are free, that can be incorporated in the classroom.  We spent a majority of the time working with Microsoft OneNote, a digital notebook designed for creating and storing electronic notebooks. All of the training sessions were interactive and ended with some assessment of mastery—including an instructional video created by the City Year New York team, for educators, demonstrating the efficacy of OneNote. One highlight of the training was the opportunity to explore the various ways to use the Xbox Kinect in the classroom through playing a few games focused on strengthening the mind and body.

    Overall, attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator training was definitely an experience to remember. I got to spend a couple of days outside of the office, gained perspective on technology in the classroom, and received certification as a Microsoft Innovative Education Teacher Trainer. As I continue to work closely with Microsoft, I am planning a professional development workshop for the teachers at our partnerships and utilizing the skills I learned during the Microsoft Innovative Educator program.


    Find out more about City Year here.

    For more information on Microsoft YouthSpark visit the YouthSpark Hub

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