Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs
Last week in New York, I had the privilege of hosting an incredible group of young international men and women in a discussion which examined the gritty challenges facing young people around the world. The convening of the Microsoft YouthSpark Advisors coincided with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting where we provided an update on our commitment to youth.
Since the launch of our YouthSpark initiative in September 2012, Microsoft has created opportunities for 103 million young people around the world in partnership with 186 youth-serving nonprofits and through our own programs and products, as illustrated by this infographic.
The global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 12.8 percent by 2018. The time to listen – and act – is now. Therefore, we felt it was critical to convene a group of youth advocates, experts and leaders to better understand their most challenging issues, and in particular, where the private sector and companies like Microsoft can play a role.
Lori Forte Harnick, general manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft listens as YouthSpark Advisors share their stories during the Microsoft YouthSpark Roundtable discussion in New York on September 23, 2013.
Over the course of three days, we dug deep into the issues, seeking to understand about specific efforts and approaches that are making an impact, and to learn where we can do more.
Microsoft’s YouthSpark Advisors gather for their inaugural meeting in New York on September 23, 2013.
For example, our YouthSpark Advisors agreed that access to technology is a critical stepping stone on the path toward success. The view was that technology education, from basic digital literacy to advanced computer science engineering, is a vital ‘means to an end’ that must be coupled with tangible opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. In fact, there was a great deal of passion about the opportunities to help more youth become not only adept users of IT, but also innovative creators of IT, which would increase their own employability and equip them to create even more jobs for others.
Interestingly, several of our YouthSpark Advisors talked about attitude and how it fuels personal drive, collaboration and creativity. We’ve seen this first-hand in our work this year: the fire within youth to take action and lead the charge to build better lives for themselves and others around them. We’re inspired by today’s youth and proud to stand alongside them, ready to help every step along the way.
We are excited about the dialogue we started in New York with our international YouthSpark Advisors, and we are indebted to them for their commitment to help shape the ongoing development of our YouthSpark programs.
One thing is clear, there is one common goal: to empower youth to enhance their lives and the livelihoods of others.
By Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft
Hundreds of fired up, amazing young people came to Microsoft Campus last Saturday. Local middle and high school students, who were accompanied by parents, educators and civic leaders, made up an audience of 600 who attended TEDxRedmond.
TEDx events are independently organized to promote ideas about technology, entertainment and design. The get-together was run by and for young people to create a forum to empower youth and change the world. It’s a cause that aligns with our company-wide, global YouthSpark Initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth over three years.
During my opening remarks, I was excited to share a milestone we announced earlier in the week: YouthSpark has impacted more than 100 million youth in 100 countries and continues to help close the opportunity divide.
Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft, made opening remarks at TEDxRedmond.
I was inspired by so many of the speakers, including Mohammad Adib. The 17-year-old, who attends Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington, observed that science, technology, and entrepreneurship are under-appreciated by his peers. Mohammad said that fostering interest in these subjects is vital to addressing the global need for innovators and scientists, as well as to finding solutions to some of our biggest problems. That’s why he designed a mobile app to encourage kids to study STEM science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Mohammed Adib, 17-year-old who attends Newport High School in Bellevue, spoke about the importance and impact of science, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Ann Makosinski, a 15 year-old junior at the St. Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia, spoke about how she invented a Hollow Flashlight that runs on the heat of the human hand. One of her goals is to prevent pollution from battery waste. She outlined her plans to improve her invention so that it’s as bright and long-lasting as a battery-powered flashlight.
Ann Makosinski, a 15 year-old junior at the St. Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia, spoke about how she invented a Hollow Flashlight that runs on the heat of the human hand.
Perhaps the goals of TEDxRemond, and the mission of Microsoft YouthSpark, were best summed up by a young entrepreneur who also spoke on Saturday. Jack Kim, who last year graduated from King’s High School in Shoreline, Washington, and is now attending Stanford University, said, “Anyone in this world has the equal power and opportunity to pick up their own pieces and make something great.”
Jack Kim, graduated from King’s High School in Shoreline, Washington, and is now attending Stanford University.
We’re inspired by today’s youth and proud to stand alongside them, ready to help every step along the way.
See profiles of all the speakers at TEDxRedmond.com. Videos of the presentations will be posted within the next two weeks.
By Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs
The economic and societal challenges facing youth around the world loom larger than ever with the youth unemployment rate expected to click upward to 12.8 percent by 2018 as forecasted by the International Labour Organization’s report, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013.
Yet, the world’s youth are undaunted by these challenges. Instead, they’re fired up, taking action and leading the charge to build better lives for themselves and others around them. We’re inspired by today’s youth and proud to stand alongside them, ready to help every step along the way. And, we’re not alone. Government leaders, nonprofit organizations, and companies large and small are working together to empower youth to change their world and build a better future for all.
Throughout the past year, as the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative has taken shape around the globe and we’ve worked closely with a large number of nonprofits – ranging from the International Youth Foundation to the African Center for Women and ICT and the China Foundation for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, to name just a few – we’ve spotted three key trends that underscore our commitment to closing the opportunity divide for youth.
Youth are leading the charge in building the future. Today’s generation of young people know better than anyone the challenges they face and are using their voice to advocate for change. To help us stay close to the most pressing issues affecting youth in all regions of the world, we are convening an international group of YouthSpark Advisors to guide the ongoing development of our YouthSpark programs over the course of the next two years, beginning with an inaugural meeting this week at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in NYC. Among these advisors is Mary Mwende of Kenya, one of the early inspirations for our YouthSpark initiative.
Technology is now, more than ever, a great equalizer for 21st century jobs. Computer programming jobs are growing at two times the national average in the U.S., yet less than 2.4 percent of college students are graduating with a degree in computer science. And, of course, there are still many youth without the digital literacy skills that are required for employment in most workplaces around the world. In light of this continued mismatch between skills and jobs, we are increasing our efforts to bring technology education to youth. We’re doubling our TEALS program in the U.S. to reach a total 70 high schools in 12 states and we’re rolling out an enhanced digital literacy curriculum on the YouthSpark Hub. Our increased investment is driven by the opportunity to help more people like Jeremy Moore, one of the first students to learn computer programming through TEALS, and Muriel Surmely, a star student in our Web@cademie program in France.
Youth entrepreneurship is key to driving economic growth. It is becoming the priority of many governments around the world to promote entrepreneurship and small business creation in order to drive economic growth. We’re working with governments and nonprofits to provide young entrepreneurs with the technology, skills, and connections to help them build businesses for themselves and create jobs for others. Ranjeet Kumar is just one example of a young entrepreneur, armed with tech skills, who is making a better life for himself and his community.
As we mark the one-year impact of Microsoft YouthSpark, we are ever-grateful for our collaboration with so many nonprofit organizations, companies, and governments–across all sectors and geographies–to empower youth to enhance their lives and the livelihoods of others.
Change of this magnitude will take time, persistence and partnership, but we must press on, fueled by the inspiration of Mary, Jeremy, Muriel, and Ranjeet, and the opportunities that stand before millions more just like them.
The future will not wait.
By Karen Bergin, Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs
On Tuesday, Microsoft launched Office 365 for Nonprofits as a worldwide donation program.
Frank Schott, interim president and executive director of NetHope, believes cloud solutions offer a specific set of benefits to nonprofits and NGOs who work primarily in the developing world. NetHope works with 39 leading international humanitarian organizations so that the best information communication technology and practices can be used to serve people in the developing world.
You can read Frank’s full post on the NetHope blog, an excerpt from which is below:
“For many years, it was thought that cloud solutions were out of reach for those working in the developing world. Because many organizations lack the basic connectivity that users would need to access their applications and data, it seemed improbable that it would catch on quickly. However, I’ve been struck by how quickly various innovations are coming together simultaneously making cloud solutions well within reach – and highly desirable – for most organizations working in the developing world today.”
Earlier this summer, we partnered with Windows on the Chip In program to create a “buy one, give one” offer. For every PC that a student crowd-funded through Chip In, we planned to donate a new PC to participants in the Chicago chapter of our Microsoft YouthSpark partner Year Up.
These Year Up students are currently in the internship phase of the program, and are gaining real-world experience at some of Chicago’s most well-known companies. This experience gives them the opportunity to network and learn the skills necessary to thrive when they enter the workforce.
Please see the Windows blog for more information and photos of the students receiving and unboxing the PCs.
Participants in Year Up Chicago's internship program with their new Windows PCs.
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