Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
In November we launched the Windows 8 Apps for Social Good contest. You voted for your favorite app, and our judges voted for theirs. It was great to see the variety of social good apps submitted to the contest – nutrition, health care, emergency response, and more. The judges had a hard time selecting the winners because of the quality and usefulness of the apps.
You can find the winning apps and all the other fantastic entries in the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 stores or on the contest page.
Without further ado, here are the winners:
The People’s Choice award winner is a Windows 8 app, YumvY, a cooking companion to help you prepare nutritious, healthy meals at home with the goal of addressing the obesity epidemic and related diseases like diabetes. Sari Louis from Reston, Virginia started coding at age six when his parents bought his older brother an Atari computer that came with a programming book for GW-Basic, and is passionate about using technology to improve health.
“Cooking at home is one of the sure ways to eat healthy and fight the growing health epidemic facing us today,” says Sari. “The reason I entered the contest is to let people know that cooking can be easy and fast…and fun on top of that.” With the $10,000 prize, he plans to include nutritional information to accompany the recipes so people can make more informed choices about what to cook.
The judge-selected winner in the Windows 8 app category is Eatfindr, a simple way to locate healthy restaurants while also allowing you to filter based on dietary requirements such as allergies. Cameron Preston, Ludo Antonov, and Hayder Casey worked tirelessly on the app after Cameron heard about the contest from friends. A team of great innovators, all have appreciated putting their development skills toward the greater purpose of social good.
Cameron says, “I get the most out of meshing my tech skills with my passion for better food systems.” He’ll use his $15,000 prize to build the app into a more social and educational user experience, expand to different platforms, and market to reach more users and gain more reviews.
Health Center was the judge-selected Windows Phone 8 app winner. It lets you look up your medications and find them at a reduced cost. Lance Siedman from Las Vegas started programming at age 13 on a Windows 98. He credits his parents’ gift of Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 for teaching him to build apps on the Windows platform. One project close to his heart was using the Microsoft Speech SDK to develop speech commands that enable his autistic brother to use a computer without anxiety.
Lance shares inspiration for other app developers thinking about doing social good: “If just one person could benefit, isn’t that what making apps and this contest is all about? If you have the capability to make a change or offer someone something, do it.” He plans to use his $15,000 prize to connect the app to a wearable device to provide medication reminders, potential interaction risks, and alerts for when to refill prescriptions.
Visit the contest page to see all of the great apps that were created for social good. Download them, use them, and share them with your friends.
By Jane Broom, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs
Yesterday was one of those great days where I felt inspired, energized and hopeful about the future of young people in our community. I can’t help wonder where the lives of more than 800 high school students I met today at the annual Microsoft TEALS Field Trip will take them. Will that amazing kid from Rainier Beach High School– the one with the twinkle in his eye and mischievous grin – become the next Bill Gates? Will that confident, compassionate girl from Lake Washington STEM High School someday start her own gaming company that inspires thousands of girls to pursue computer science careers? Perhaps one of them will combine a love of computer science with a love of teaching and become a high school computer science teacher who sparks passion in his or her students – just like TEALS founder Kevin Wang has done?
Kevin Wang, founder of TEALS, taking the stage.
TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) is a Microsoft YouthSpark program that brings technology professionals and curriculum to high schools, providing the students I met yesterday and many more around the country with access to high-quality computer science courses. As part of the curricula, the TEALS students come to the Microsoft campus in Redmond where they interact with professionals, hear about interesting developments in the field, and learn about local colleges, jobs and other resources, including programs at Microsoft.
Bing talking to students at the Opportunity Fair.
Computer science is what drives the technological innovation that now underpins the global economy. It is one of the fastest growing, lucrative and rewarding fields that a student can pursue. Yet, very few schools around the nation offer it as a course. For instance, of the 770 public and private high schools in the state of Washington, only 35 offer the AP course in computer science.
800 students from all over the Puget Sound area came to Microsoft for the TEALS field trip.
The scarcity of these courses has an even greater impact on students of color. Of the 542 Washington students who took the AP computer science exam last year, less than 25 were Hispanic, African-American or Native-American.
But we are on the verge of important change. The energy, diversity, curiosity and smarts that I saw in the students yesterday can’t be ignored. They will demand more and more of these high-quality, relevant opportunities. Incredible TEALS volunteers are catalyzing change inside high schools and helping to rapidly build access to these courses. They are proving that it can be done in all kinds of schools. The Washington State Legislature is doing its part, too. It recently passed legislation to make computer science count as a math or science graduation requirement.
To me, there is nothing more rewarding than supporting young people in pursuit of their potential. Yesterday’s TEALS field trip was one of those days that made us at Microsoft proud to have played a part. Watch the videos below to hear some of the students’ stories and understand why I ended the day feeling so excited and hopeful for the future.
By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Citizenship, Microsoft
On March 18th, I had the honor of joining President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the First Lady of Indonesia, along with Bapak DR Syarifuddin Hasan Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprise, the Governor of Jakarta Bapak Joko Widodo and other distinguished guests speak at the National Youth Entrepreneurship Summit held at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium (Indonesia’s national soccer stadium) in front of an audience of 50,000 young Indonesian entrepreneurs.
Speaking to a crowd of 50,000 young people.
The energy in the stadium was indescribable, and was heightened as the lead singer of a major local rock band energized the crowd before the event began. I was told I would be speaking right after the band and right before the President’s address, so I knew I had an important task of keeping the energy high ahead of me. Speaking in front of this large of group was a first for me, I have spoken at many events, but never to thousands of youth, and certainly never in a professional soccer stadium! The stadium was full of university students that had come from 85 local universities for this event and their eagerness to change the world, their communities and their own lives was palpable. During my speech, I took a moment to record the youth and their greetings on my Windows Phone so I could share the excitement with the world.
With this incredible audience, I shared that for Indonesia to reach its potential and become the 7th largest economy in world by 2030 (according to a McKinsey study) and to grow its economy from .5 Trillion to 1.8 Trillion it will have to train an additional 58 Million workers and these youth will have to lead the charge. With these staggering statistics in mind, I shared with the youth what Microsoft is doing to help through Microsoft YouthSpark, the company’s initiative to help 300m young people get into jobs, access additional education and training or start their own business would be able to provide some of the support necessary in cooperation with the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprise and other local partners.
Myself, far right, illustrating YouthSpark in a meeting in Manila.
YouthSpark has reached over 66 million youth this year, includes over 30 programs, 70 partners and is within 100 communities globally. The programs within YouthSpark, such as Innovate for Good, the Imagine Cup, the Microsoft Innovation Centers, BizSpark and DreamSpark directly benefit youth like the young entrepreneurs I spoke to in Indonesia by providing them with the opportunity to realize their own futures and receive support from Microsoft along the way.
After I highlighted how Microsoft is helping youth across the globe imagine and realize their full potential, I shared some entrepreneurial insights of my own. Youth entrepreneurs must learn to move from “passion to compassion” and from “personal to societal” in order to successfully enact change. This cycle involves four key concepts:
1) The path to success requires perseverance and being unreasonable helps because you do not take no for an answer and you will find ways to move forward by overcoming obstacles.
2) However, if you are unreasonable then you also have to be a learner. Lifelong learning therefore is another key to becoming successful.
3) Coping with failure was another consistent theme. People will fail but is it how one reacts to failure will eventually pave the way for success.
4) Finally one has to be compassionate – without thinking of the larger impact of your work on society you will not succeed as a change-maker.
The opportunity divide, between those youth who have the access, skills and resources to succeed and those who don’t, is real. We need new and innovative ways to bridge this divide. Creating a movement of youth change-makers is part of our commitment to bridge this divide and create an opportunity dividend. We have challenged these young leaders to learn something new, listen to novel ideas and be open to things they don’t understand.
After the event I was surrounded by many young people at the Microsoft booth who shared with me their stories which were inspiring and humbling. Two of them included Hasna Tsaniya Rananti and Garibaldy Widowo Mukti, both young entrepreneurs who started their company Nightspade while they were students at the Bandung Institute of Technology and winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup in 2009. Hsana and Garibaldy developed game apps, and have hired over 20 people and are now generating income and creating a future for themselves. We have much to do to ensure that future generations are not lost as we struggle to come out of a major economic downturn that has gripped many nations and regions of the world.
Technology has a role to play in how we can level the playing field and how we can provide access to youth in underprivileged communities. But technology has to be connected with empowering youth by building their skills, by inspiring them to innovate and become change-makers. Finally we have to invest in them through time, talent and treasure so we can support them to realize their potential and that they create a world that they can thrive in.
Congratulations to science and technology company 3M for winning the 2013 United Way Spirit of America® award for philanthropy, volunteer engagement and community impact!
Microsoft also received two Summit awards from United Way for our community impact and volunteer engagement. The awards program recognizes outstanding United Way Global Corporate Leaders.
“At Microsoft we really do believe that our strongest asset is our people. We are deeply honored to receive two United Way ‘Spirit of America’ awards which highlight the real impact of our employees in the local communities in which they live and work.”
-Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft
Read the full press release on United Way's site.
By Caroline Curtin, Policy Counsel Microsoft U.S. Government Affairs
“If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you've produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too,” said President Obama in 2009, on why he was starting an annual science fair at the White House.
Four years later – and just this Monday – 100 kids proudly displayed their inventions at the 2013 White House Science Fair. There was a self-cooling system for the inside of football uniforms. A quantitative sleep study that illustrates the connection between sleep patterns and the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s. All of the exhibits were exceptional, but the one that had particular meaning to me was designed by Gustavo Zacarias.
Gustavo is a middle schooler from San Antonio, Texas. He presented The Dark Labyrinth, a 3-D maze that players navigate by solving math challenges. He coded the game on Kodu, a free game design tool created by Microsoft that enables kids to easily build their own video games. The Dark Labyrinth took home first place in the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been an early supporter of the Challenge. Seeing him at the White House was a proud moment for the progress we’ve made in furthering STEM education across America.
“I never thought I would be exhibiting my game at the White House,” said Gustavo. “I worked very hard during the making of the game and was very happy about winning a national competition, so I’m very excited and thankful for the opportunity to be part of this great event.” Gustavo began playing video games at age 4 and plans to build a career as a game designer.
“Young people like this have to make you hopeful about the future.”
-President Obama at the 2013 White House Science Fair
Young people are capable of extraordinary things. At Microsoft, we’re working to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential. That’s why we launched Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide initiative with a three year commitment to create opportunity for 300 million young people around the world. That’s why we partner with the STEM National Video Game Challenge and helped set up TEALS, which places professional engineers in high school classrooms to teach computer science virtually or in person. The need for schools to embrace STEM curricula and for students to study computer science is imperative for America’s youth and the country’s success in the global economy.
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