This week, Microsoft’s Washington, D.C. Innovation and Policy Center partnered with the Brookings Institution to host a YouthSpark Connection event. With more than 100 DC area educators, community leaders and students in attendance, the event focused on ways to empower local youth to achieve success in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

To kick-off the event, Martha Ross of the Brookings Institution unveiled new research that illustrated the opportunity divide facing young people in the District of Columbia. Following a discussion of the research, we were excited to have some of the area’s most respected voices on education participate in a lively panel discussion focused on solutions to help solve the challenges facing youth.

Panel 1

DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins provided opening remarks. The panel discussion featured DC Assistant Secretary for the Office of the State Superintendent for Post Secondary and Career Education Emily Durso; Cesear Chavez and DC Promise Initiative Founder Irasema Slacido and Greater Washington Board of Trade James Dinegar. In addition, City Year Corps Member Michelle Didero gave real-world examples of how YouthSpark partners such as City Year are helping young people in the District change their world.

During the event, Microsoft’s Andrea Taylor and Donna Woodall showcased Microsoft’s YouthSpark program that is creating opportunities for 300 million young people worldwide over the next three years. Designed to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential, YouthSpark programs connect young people with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship. Through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses, YouthSpark is empowering youth to change their world.

Following the event, Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center Staff had the opportunity to connect with Martha Ross, a Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

 We also spoke with Irasema Salcido, founder of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy and the DC Promise Initiative.

City Year Corps Member Michelle Didero spoke with our team regarding the importance of STEM education.

Missed the event but want to learn more? For more on STEM education and what Microsoft is doing in your area, check out the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub and participate in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #YouthSpark.