January, 2013

  • Eyewitness to the Future

    By Andrea Taylor, Director of Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs in the U.S.

    Washington, DC - Today the nation inaugurates Barack Obama or “44” for a second term presidency as we also commemorate the 84th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The juxtaposition of these events has generated much reflection in the media as well as other milestones later this year. In August, for example, we’ll mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the precursor to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1964 and the Civil Rights Act in 1965.

    As a teen, my family’s legacy of civic activism allowed me to join that historic 1963 March, along with more than 250,000 nonviolent protestors. Five years later when Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of a Memphis hotel, I was a co-ed at Boston University (where Dr. King earned his PhD in 1955) studying journalism and eager to pursue a career at The Boston Globe chronicling education and community change. His murder deeply affected an idealistic generation, now baby boomers. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, we’ve seen societal shifts foreshadowed in Dr. King’s dream about equality and justice that have advanced civil and human rights, women’s empowerment, marriage equality and growing support for key issues like the environment, economic justice and health care.

    Button jpg
    Relic from the past: Andrea’s button from her participation in the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom.
    Once again, I’ll be on the iconic National Mall to celebrate an important American event. Dr. King’s prescient vision as articulated in the “I Have a Dream” speech will resonate in my thoughts. I was also there for the inauguration in 2009 and for the 20th anniversary of the March in 1983. There is a powerful link between Dr. King and President Obama, barely two years old when Dr. King spoke of “a nation where children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.” These reminders may bring tears to my eyes.

    However, I will not dwell on these memories but rather devote my energy to the realities of the 21st century world in which we live, where today’s youth constitute nearly 1.4 billion of the world’s population – the largest cohort ever. Young people need and deserve our support as they collect new memories and identify timely priorities about what really matters.

    Glimpsing the future, a privilege I share daily with colleagues at Microsoft and in the technology industry overall, the rapid pace of change is remarkable. However, such shifts present tremendous opportunities. Microsoft’s recently launched YouthSpark initiative is a great example. This global initiative provides resources to help empower youth to imagine their full potential and connect to improved opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. Ironically, similar concerns characterized the March on Washington which was, fundamentally, about jobs and freedom for all people. It’s a fact that unemployment in the U.S. and globally is incredibly high and the fiscal crisis facing many communities threatens freedoms often taken for granted.

    In my career, community and family, I’m obsessed with the future. Indeed, as a mentor and philanthropy professional, I’m always seeking greater understanding and wisdom about ways to inspire creativity, imagination and innovation among youth and people of all ages. This follows directly in the footsteps of Dr. King’s legacy and President Obama’s message of hope and ability to forge a new American coalition that has given wings to his leadership and offered a model for public service to a new generation.

    As we honor the inaugural tradition of our democracy, and the newer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, we are all beneficiaries of a rich, complex history and eyewitnesses to a future ripe with possibilities for changing the world and living a purposeful life.

    AndreaTaylor headshot Andrea L. Taylor is director of Microsoft’s Citizenship & Public Affairs in the U.S. focusing on the YouthSpark initiative and working with nonprofit organizations across the country. She is a trustee of Boston University, her alma mater, New York Public Radio, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
  • HelpBridge: a new mobile app to get help and give help during a disaster


    Microsoft is today announcing a new mobile app called HelpBridge that is designed to help you connect with the people that matter to you most during a large scale natural disaster. It also enables you to give your money, time and resources to support relief and rebuilding efforts.

    HelpBridge is available as a free download on Windows Phone, Android and iOS today.


    You can get HelpBridge here

    So once you’ve installed HelpBridge, how does it work?

    Get Help with HelpBridge

    • HelpBridge enables you to build a list of people who you would want to contact in an emergency. With one swipe you can let all those people know if you’re OK or if you need help via SMS, email and/or Facebook. The alert can also optionally provide your exact location via your phone’s GPS capabilities.


    Give Help with HelpBridge

    Helpbridge provides three easy ways to support relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of a disaster.

    • Donate money: You can use the application to easily donate funds to a broad range of relief agencies assisting victims of a disaster including the American Red Cross, CARE, Global Giving and many more.
    • Donate goods: You can discover what goods and resources relief agencies on the ground need, and the application makes it easy for you to get the right goods to the right place.
    • Volunteer your time: HelpBridge provides you with a list of real-time volunteering opportunities posted by relief agencies, enabling you to directly or indirectly support relief efforts with your time.


    We’ve worked with a range of relief agencies and nonprofits during the development of HelpBridge.


    “We are grateful to our partner Microsoft who understands the importance of connecting loved ones after disasters and provides ways for individuals to donate their time and dollars to help those in need through the Red Cross,” said Neal Litvack, Chief Development Officer of the American Red Cross.


    “Mobile phones have become one of the key tools for people in disaster affected areas to communicate, not only with their friends, but also with first responders. The simpler we can make it for people to let others know if they are fine or if they need assistance, the more likely they are of being able to get that information out,” said Gisli Olaffson, Emergency Response Director, NetHope. “Microsoft’s HelpBridge mobile app is a great addition to the tools people have for reporting their needs and their status following any disaster.”



    HelpBridge is a mobile app with the application back-end running on Microsoft Windows Azure which provides a rich and reliable web, application and data platform in the cloud.


    Home Screen

    I Need Help Screen
    Quickly let people know how and where you are




    Second level TexttoGive Screen

    Opportunity Details Screen

    Make donations to relief agencies from your mobile device



    The key to responding to a disaster is being prepared

    HelpBridge is a useful part of your disaster preparation but you also need to think about what other ways you can get prepared ahead of an unexpected event.

    For example, what are the key documents that you should back up online so you can access them from any location? Have you thought about completing a family emergency plan? What about your pets? There’s some good tips and resources here.

    HelpBridge is a useful tool to help you get help and give help during a disaster. Download the app today as part of your disaster preparedness.

    As Petra Nemcova, a disaster survivor and founder of Happy Hearts Fund noted:

    “We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.”


    Note:  HelpBridge is only available in the United States.

  • The new Office is now available for nonprofits

    We’re excited to announce the availability of the new Office desktop applications for nonprofits through the Microsoft software donation program.

    Eligible nonprofit organizations and public libraries can order software through our nonprofit partner, TechSoup Global. Get started today.

    Features of the new cloud-integrated Office allow you to access and edit your documents using Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint from any computer, including touch enabled devices, whenever and wherever you want.

    One of the first things you’ll notice with the new Office is a new start screen. The start screen enables you to easily reach recently opened documents or get started with a template. The start screen also allows you to pin your favorite folders and locations, so they’re always available.


    Additionally, you can connect to services, such as Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube to get images, videos, or files and easily insert them into your document or presentation.

    There’s also easier file sharing. If you have an account on SharePoint or Microsoft SkyDrive, you can save your files to one of those places, then use the “Share” command to let others read or edit your copy of the file. It’s a simple solution to maintain one copy with everyone’s edits.

    Ready to get started with the new Office? Here are a few simple steps you can take today to learn more:

    1. Find out how you can order the latest version of Office for your nonprofit.

    2. Join our #Office4Good TweetChat on Wednesday, January 30th @ 12pm PST with special guest Doug Thomas, the Office Casual guy. He'll give productivity tips and highlight his favorite features. This is a great opportunity for nonprofits to ask questions and get advice from one of the experts. We'll also share how nonprofits can get donated Microsoft software through our partner TechSoup. Join the conversation using the hashtag #Office4Good.

    3. Register for the new Office webinar on Friday, February 1st @ 2:00pm EST/11:00am PST, hosted by TechSoup. David Alexander, Product Marketing Manager on the Office Technical Marketing Team, will demonstrate the new Office and answer questions from nonprofits.

    4. Spread the word! Tell your favorite nonprofit about Microsoft’s software donation program and encourage them to visit www.Microsoft.com/nonprofit.

    5. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with the Microsoft software donation program.

    If you have a favorite nonprofit let them know how they can get a software donation from Microsoft.

  • Microsoft at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting: Real Impact for a Better Tomorrow

    By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Microsoft’s attendance at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland is a tradition that was started by Microsoft Co-Founder and Chairman Bill Gates. It’s an opportunity for us to participate in an international dialogue about the world’s most pressing economic and social problems and how government, business, nonprofits, and civil society can come together to ignite change and make a real impact for a better tomorrow.

    Each year our involvement has grown. I’ll be part of this year’s Microsoft delegation, which will also include Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the CEO, Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel, Eric Rudder, chief technical strategy officer, and Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International.

    As we strive to create a real impact for a better tomorrow, we’ll join a series of important conversations at the Annual Meeting on the topic of the global challenges facing youth, such as high unemployment and skills development. Brad Smith will join a panel hosted by McKinsey & Company to discuss ways to help youth more easily navigate the path from education to employment. This is an area where Microsoft has made a significant investment, including the support of a national proposal to fuel talent mobility and the launch of Microsoft YouthSpark, our global, company-wide initiative designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth over the next three years. We believe we can play an important role in helping to build a strong global economy by providing technology, education and opportunities to young people, to empower them to imagine and realize their full potential and help them create a real impact for a better tomorrow.

    Microsoft will also have a presence at two other events: a session organized by WEF titled “From Data Deluge to Data Dividend” and a workshop organized by WEF titled “The Business of Human Rights: Current Challenges and Opportunities.”

    And for the second year - one of the biggest product launch years in our history - we are delighted to host the Microsoft Vision Center, which will showcase current Microsoft products and provide attendees a glimpse into the future. The future innovations on display will include the Illumishare project and Kinect for Windows, as well as newly-released devices, including Surface, Windows Phone 8 and a variety of Windows 8 touch devices. All will demonstrate the power and promise of technology to make a real impact for a better tomorrow.


    As we work collectively to rebuild the global economy, we believe the technology industry can make many critical contributions to help increase employment opportunities and drive global economic progress. We look forward to sharing our perspectives as the week unfolds through the Microsoft Corporate Citizenship blog and the Microsoft on the Issues blog. You can also track the conversation on Twitter by following @WEF and the Forum’s hashtag #WEF.

  • YouthSpark Star of the Week: Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project, Rural Uganda

    Editor’s note: this is the first in a regular series of posts featuring projects on Give for Youth, a micro-giving site focused on empowering young people around the world.

    “It takes children to raise a village.” – Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, founder & executive director, Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project

    In Uganda, over 2.2 million children have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Without their parents, many of these children go without an education or in many cases, having basic needs met. The Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project fights poverty by empowering these children, especially girls, through free, quality education, school supplies, healthcare and more.

    What makes this project special is the support for the students' caregivers and 7,000 area grandmothers through access to clean water, vegetable seeds, counseling, health care, micro-finance and more. The effort heralds the “unsung heroes of Nyaka” – the thousands of grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren after losing their own children to AIDS.

    Nyaka AIDS Orphan project

    "I grew up in rural Uganda where my parents sold goats, cows, & land to educate me. Despite not having parents to make such sacrifices, the students at Nyaka still have a chance for a bright future,” said Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, the executive director and founder of the Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project.

    Spark Change Today!

    Find out how you can help change lives and spark change via this cool project on Give for Youth. Just $10 can provide a young girl with school supplies to help her complete her education.

    Give for Youth is a Microsoft YouthSpark program.

    Learn More:

    Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project on Facebook and twitter

    A School for my Village” – by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri

    Jackson Kaguri, CNN Hero profile

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