May, 2014

  • An Extraordinary Lesson and Skype

    By Karen Bergin, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Those unique and wonderful moments when different groups of people, from different parts of the world, come together to speak with one another are perhaps some of the most magical Skype opportunities imaginable. Recently, a high school English class from Lake Stevens, Washington was selected to participate in a Skype in the Classroom event. This class of sophomores and juniors was united with Blake Mycoskie – the founder of TOMS – for an inspiring conversation on entrepreneurship, motivation, college life, and social-good businesses like his. You can watch their conversation unfold and read all about it via Cierra, one of the students who was “face to face” with Mycoskie.

  • HelpBridge App Can Help Those in Need During Natural Disasters

    By James Rooney, senior program manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs
    When disaster strikes do you and your family have a plan? This week marks National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and while every storm season comes with uncertainty, there are ways to prepare and stay safe using the latest technology.
    Microsoft offers several resources and tips to keep you safe, and out of harm’s way, during natural disasters.
    1. Stay Connected

    ·         Use technology to your advantage: During times of disaster, social media and texting are quick and effective ways to communicate with friends and family.  Last year, Microsoft launched HelpBridge, an app designed to help people connect with one another, and with volunteer and donation opportunities, during any type of disaster.  HelpBridge is a free cross-platform mobile application (Windows Phone, Android, iOS) that provides you with the ability to send status updates to pre-selected contact groups via email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook.  Through your phone’s GPS capabilities you can also choose whether to share your location in your alerts. Today, Microsoft released an update to the app including a new easy to navigate User Interface and push notifications. In times of disaster, Skype can also help you stay connected via the internet or a mobile device when phone services are down.

    2. Plan Ahead

    ·         Develop a family emergency plan:  One of the best ways you can weather the storm is to prepare for it. Microsoft Excel offers several free templates, including emergency contact lists and family emergency plans. Remember to plan for senior citizens and pets in your household, and communicate this plan to family and friends so they are aware. Your plan can be accessed during a disaster by saving it to a cloud service, like OneDrive, so you can access your documents on any computer or smartphone – even when Internet access is not available. 


    The United States Department of Homeland Security also offers several resources and games to make disaster preparedness planning easy for the whole family, including Facebook application, bReddi, which helps you and your family prepare for emergencies. The American Red Cross and FEMA provide extensive preparation guidance and status information for various types of natural disasters, including hurricanes.

     3.    Use Your Resources and Take Action

    ·         Monitor your health information: Quick and reliable access to your health and medical information is important to ensure the appropriate medical aid during a natural disaster. HealthVault helps you gather, store, use, and share important health information for you and your family by creating an emergency profile. Here you can manage and track your family’s medical contacts, allergies, medication, immunizations, and health conditions.  Your medical providers can securely log in and see a full picture of your history and medical needs.

      Download the HelpBridge app here and visit Microsoft Disaster Response site to learn more about the Microsoft Disaster Response program.  

  • City Year is "Fired Up" at 25!

    By Andrea L. Taylor, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs, North America, Microsoft

    “Every 26 seconds a student gives up on school in America,” according to City Year. Compelling evidence indicates that turning around just one low performing high school in a community has the potential to yield a $23 million benefit to society annually.

    Last Thursday in Boston, City Year’s founding community, the 2014 In School & On Track National Leadership Summit was convened to review current work to address this challenge in 25 U.S. cities and international affiliates in the United Kingdom and South Africa.  This annual event generated a series of provocative, targeted conversations about the current impact of City Year in 242 partner schools with more than 2,700 City Year Corps members serving schools that enroll more than 150,000 students. Microsoft YouthSpark is a proud sponsor of the City Year national program with an emphasis on math skills training and targeted employee engagement in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago and Seattle.

    City Year’s ongoing Long Term Impact goal to dramatically increase the number of students on track to graduation remains the highest priority. Blueprints for Local Impact were introduced as the next stage of the strategy involving work with School District leaders and other stakeholders to develop highly localized multi-year plans.  In addition, the Blueprints for Local Impact will allow City Year to follow cohorts of students from elementary through high school to help ensure that the most at-risk students achieve success in school and beyond.

    An ambitious 25th Anniversary Campaign was announced with a goal of raising $150 million to support strengthening national capacity to deepen impact and to increase local City Year programs nationwide. CEO and Co-Founder Michael Brown proudly announced that $118.9 million has already been pledged to date to provide the resources for scaling to new cities and sustaining these programs to address the nation’s high school graduation challenge.  Further details about City Year’s National Plan are expected in August to reach projections that would allow City Year to grow to 12,000 corps members in 1,100 schools, serving 800,000 students annually by 2020.

    The 25th Anniversary Gala held at the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall was an inspirational celebration and capstone marking City Year’s quarter century of service.  Corps members in their trademark red jackets and chants about being “Fired Up” contributed to a wonderfully supercharged environment! 

    President Bill Clinton was honored with the 25th Anniversary Legacy Award for his ongoing support of City Year and as the founder of Americorps, the innovative national service program that has provided one billion hours of results-driven service by more than 830,000 men and women since its founding 20 years ago.  Also participating in the festivities was Wendy Spencer, CEO, the Corporation for National and Community Service that manages Americorps and includes service programs such as City Year and Teach for America. Clinton’s belief in the power of diverse, idealistic young people to change the world was amplified in his remarks and shared with the enthusiastic audience of donors, staff, alums and friends.

    Harper Hill, City Year Los Angeles Board member, author and actor added to the evening program, along with performing artist Judith Hill.  The Boston Pops Orchestra, wearing the cherished City Year red jackets and led by Keith Lockhart, presented an eclectic program from Beethoven to the Beatles. City Year’s focus on attendance, behavior and course performance appears to have a bright future ahead with a spectacular kickoff as they move toward a half century of unique service to help students and schools succeed.

  • Microsoft Cookbook Collects 3rd Gourmand World Cookbook Award

    By Karen Bergin, director, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Today, Microsoft China accepted the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the Microsoft Cookbook. The cookbook, created as a labor of love by one Microsoft couple, comprises recipes from Microsoft employees around the world. All proceeds go toward Seattle nonprofit FareStart, and to date the cookbook has raised more than $250,000 for the organization as part of Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program.

    The recipe book also earned best Publisher/Printing and tied for best Charity/Fundraising cookbook in 2013. The award recognizes publications that increase knowledge and respect for food culture, while honoring those who “cook with words.”

    To read more about the story behind the Microsoft Cookbook, please read the Microsoft News Center story.

  • Helping Students Learn Through the Summer

    By Kari Sherrodd, senior manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Summer break is just around the corner! This time of year, many parents struggle to come up with ways to keep their kids learning and engaged with fun activities throughout the summer months. We want to help. As part of Microsoft YouthSpark, Microsoft offers several programs, classes and opportunities to continue the learning and fun after the yearbooks are signed and the final bell rings.

    YouthSpark Summer Camps
    Starting June 2, Microsoft will kick off summer break with free YouthSpark Summer Camps at your local Microsoft retail store. Camps include Smart Game Coding and Smart Game Designing where students will learn how to build, publish and bring mobile games to life. In addition, Smart Movie Making and Smart Photo Taking offers students a chance to produce and design movies and images. To learn more about the classes offered in your neighborhood and to enroll, visit

    Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program
    By 2018, there will be more than 1.4 million open jobs in the technology sector in the United States. At the current rate of students graduating with computer science degrees, only 61 percent of those jobs will be filled, and less than a third will be filled by women. In an effort to increase this statistic, Microsoft is sponsoring a Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program this year on Microsoft’s Redmond campus to help bring a unique approach to computer science education. Over the course of seven weeks, 20 female high school students will participate in intensive instruction in robotics, web design and mobile development with engaging, career focused mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female entrepreneurs and engineers. To learn more about the Girls Who Code Immersion Program, or to start a club in your city, check out

    DigiGirlz, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, gives high school girls across the globe the opportunity to learn about careers in technology. Two programs are offered including a DigiGirlz one-day event, held at multiple Microsoft locations worldwide, which is designed to provide high school girls with a better understanding of what a career in technology looks like. In addition, Microsoft offers a multiday High Tech Camp experience in various cities across the world bringing high school girls an in-depth look at Microsoft and careers in technology while participating in hands-on computer and technology workshops. For more information about Microsoft’s DigiGirlz program visit

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