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: Molly Bull, Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft Disaster Response
The devastating tornados that recently tore through communities in Texas and Oklahoma reinforce the importance of both preparedness and aiding in relief efforts during times of natural disaster. Today also marks the start of Hurricane Preparedness Week in the U.S., as hurricane seasons starts the first of June. The NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts 13 to 20 named storms total, between seven and 11 of which will be hurricanes, and three to six of which will become major hurricanes for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. The potential for damage is high, and the need for preparation is even more important.
So how should you respond? Planning ahead is critical, and technology can play a role in helping people and communities prepare for, and respond to, natural disasters. Following is some helpful guidance about the technology tools available from Microsoft along with how the company is supporting relief organizations that can help communities and responders effectively plan, prepare and provide support during a natural disaster.
· Social media and texting is a quick and effective way to communicate to friends and family during times of natural disaster. Today, one in five Americans have used an emergency mobile app in times of a natural disaster.
Over the past several years, apps have been created to support a specific disaster or needs of a specific organization. This past January, Microsoft launched HelpBridge, an app designed to help people connect with one another, and with giving and donation opportunities, during any type of disaster. HelpBridge is a free cross-platform mobile application (Windows, Android, iOS) that provides you with the ability to send out status updates to pre-selected contact groups via email, SMS, and Facebook. Through your phone’s GPS capabilities you can also choose whether to share your location in your alerts.
· Accessing the latest information about what is happening on the ground is critical to staying informed, both for responders and the general public. Through the ReadyReach Preparedness Portal you can access the latest information regarding a disaster (maps, areas of concern, how to provide aid) as well as support nonprofit relief agencies. The site helps to make communities more resilient in disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.
· During a natural disaster, communication networks can be overwhelmed and access to a computer can be difficult. In times of disaster, Skype can help you stay connected via the internet or a mobile device, providing another way to connect when networks get overloaded.
Safeguarding Your Information
· Developing a family emergency plan and keeping it in a safe, secure place is an important part of preparedness. This Microsoft Excel template walks you through the process of creating a comprehensive plan. This plan can be accessed during a disaster by saving it to a cloud drive, like SkyDrive, so you can get to your plan on any computer or smartphone – and even when Internet connectivity fails.
· Create a backup for all your most important documents. You can scan documents – insurance information, birth certificate, passport, medical records and other essential documents – and organize them in a digital notebook, like OneNote, so they can be quickly searched to find information you need. Store this notebook in the cloud so it’s available from anywhere in the event that you lose your devices.
· 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. Through the site your medical providers can securely log in and see a full picture of your history and medical needs.
Working Together to Help Those Before and After a Disaster Occurs
Microsoft is committed to partnering with humanitarian relief and disaster response organizations to keep communities safe, informed, and connected before, during and following natural disasters.
· Esri provides thousands of organizations with software designed to help during disaster response management. The software and mapping technology provides first responders and people on the ground with immediate information regarding natural disaster zones, thus allowing citizens and organizations to make informed decisions quickly.
· Aidmatrix provides relief organizations with the ability to broadcast stories and highlight needs during times of disaster through their Local Impact Map and NeedsFeed tools. The NeedsFeed shows communities where the most help is needed and how they can assist those who have been impacted.
· Having a response plan is critical in mitigating the outcome of a natural disaster. The American Red Cross provides extensive preparation guidance and real time status information for various types of natural disasters, including hurricanes. The American Red Cross’s Tornado App provides up to date information about tornadoes, what to do immediately afterwards, and location-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alerts, allowing citizens to stay informed with the most up to date status information.
· FEMA has several resources and tools to help prepare for a natural disaster including the ability to get access to real-time hurricane preparedness information through their text-enabled alert system by texting “hurricane” to 43362.
· Skype has partnered with the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) to create a low-bandwidth Skype client that helps relief workers connect with their families when stationed overseas in hardship locations like Darfur or Pakistan. Luxembourg has employed a similar approach for the disaster relief teams that it deploys to major disasters. The teams are armed with an inflatable satellite that, when paired with Skype, can provide Wi-Fi, instant messaging voice and video chat to aid workers on location during natural disasters.
Visit Microsoft Disaster Response site to learn more about the Microsoft Disaster Response program.
By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs
When it comes to social change, launching entrepreneurial ventures, and coming up with the next generation of big ideas, we know that nothing matches the creativity and passion of youth. That’s the driving force behind Microsoft YouthSpark, our company-wide commitment to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 300 million young people over three years.
Today we’re launching YouthSpark Challenge for Change, a contest for U.S. residents aged 18 to 25 who have an idea for sparking change in their communities or around the world for the chance to win* amazing prizes, including a volunteer trip to Kenya this summer and the latest Microsoft products. Entering the contest is easy. Simply answer a few questions about your social good project and how Windows and Office could help bring it to life.
Microsoft wants to help young people change the world, and because we believe all good deeds should be rewarded, everyone who enters the contest will win!
If you’re wondering how to incorporate Windows and Office into your entry, click over to the Windows blog and Office.com for tips and tricks. And if you’re looking for inspiration for your own change-sparking project, watch Rebecca and Christina share stories about their projects, Plus Ultra and the Do Good Bus.
Enter the challenge now.
After all of the contest entries have been received, our judges will narrow the entries to 20 finalists, who will be revealed on June 17. Then the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite project once a day until June 24. We’ll announce our five grand prize winners on July 1, which will mark the end of the contest but the beginning of another journey. We’re excited to bring you the stories of our five winners and future YouthSpark Stars as they volunteer in Kenya this summer and launch their social good projects in the following months. And who knows… maybe one of them will be you.
*No purchase necessary. Entry deadline May 24, 2013. See website for full Official Rules.
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.
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.
By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs
As the needs of communities expand exponentially around the world and technology advancements accelerate with increasing speed, we’re taking a new step forward to help nonprofits more easily harness the power of technology to do more good.
Starting today, Microsoft is significantly widening the scope of its Technology for Good program by donating Office 365 to nonprofits worldwide. We’re launching the offer in 41 countries today, and we’ll roll it out in up to 90 countries by July 2014. There’s no cap on the number of nonprofit employees who can get on board, whether the organization has 10 employees or thousands.
Access to the cloud and simplified IT administration have proven essential for the Delaware chapter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a Microsoft YouthSpark nonprofit partner. George Krupanski, chief executive officer of the Delaware chapter, wanted to free his staff to focus on youth instead of servers and technical issues. “For many of our kids, Boys & Girls Club is a home away from home. Office 365 allows us to spend more time and resources helping our young people because we are spending less time trying to manage our systems. It also frees up space on our servers, so we can spend our resources on programs for kids instead of on additional technology equipment.”
For nonprofits with offices in multiple locations, Office 365 simplifies collaboration. Staff can view their colleagues’ calendars to find ideal meeting times, share documents without worrying about version control, and hold group meetings with high definition video conferencing. The added benefit of a cloud-based product is the ability to access documents from anywhere.
“Office 365 has been vital to the work we do, which by its nature is cross-organizational and spans the globe,” said Erik Arnold, chief information officer of PATH, an international nonprofit that transforms global health through innovation. “For example, now our Malaria Vaccine Initiative team can collaborate across geographies, accessing their files no matter where they are in the world. Office 365 is the ideal solution for our technology needs. Our whole staff has found value in the many features that help them efficiently stay connected to each other and their work, such as calendar overlays, desktop sharing, and group video conferencing.”
“I am hugely impressed with Office 365. Within days we were seeing real benefits,” said Peter Davitt, chief executive officer of Fastrack to IT, an Irish nonprofit that provides technology training and career development opportunities for the unemployed. “We have offices in Dublin, Cork and Belfast, and we can meet and collaborate very effectively using SharePoint within Office 365. We can upload files that everyone can share and work on during these meetings, regardless of their location.”
If you work at a nonprofit, now is a great time to apply for a donation of Office 365 for Nonprofits. If you have a favorite nonprofit, please help us spread the news by sharing the video below. Technology is more than bits and bytes – it’s about how people are using technology to make the world a better place. We can’t wait to hear your story.
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