Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Guest Post by Lindsay Jones, NPower Charlotte Region
Pictured Above: The ability to provide remote support was critical for World of God, a nonprofit client that provides sustainable aid to children in Haiti and Liberia.
At NPower Charlotte Region, we believe technology can change the world of nonprofits. However, without the support of our corporate partners, this change would not be possible. Last month, our long-time partner, Microsoft, helped further this change by donating Microsoft software and exam vouchers to support NPower’s mission. Microsoft’s donation helps transform Charlotte’s nonprofit community through technology advancement and innovation. The donated software gives NPower the ability to work virtually, supports our new tech center and increases the overall professional delivery of our technology solutions. Specifically, the Windows Server Family gives our NPower staff mobility, allowing consultants to work with clients easily in the field. Virtualization is essential to providing IT support to our nearly 100 nonprofit clients in a 14 county area and this software makes this possible. York County Adult Daycare (pictured left), an organization that provides activities and support for adults with specialized needs, consists of three different sites supported by NPower in Rock Hill, York and Fort Mill South Carolina. With NPower’s mobile workforce, enabled through Microsoft technology, we can support York County Adult Daycare’s technology so they can fulfill their mission of providing a loving, caring environment for those adults who need it. Virtualization allows us to go directly to the people we serve making a broad footprint in technology innovation.
NPower recently launched a Community Tech Support Center, which provides help desk support to more than 25 nonprofits in the Charlotte area. Windows 7 will enable NPower’s technologists to quickly address nonprofits’ IT problems and find the right solution for all of our clients. This software also gives us the ability to expand the Center to offer support to more than 100 clients on a variety of projects including Managed Services and website support. This ability to provide remote support was critical for World of God, a nonprofit client that provides sustainable aid to children in Haiti and Liberia. After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, World of God needed to modify their website immediately to solicit support and aid for victims. Our client, who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, was able to work with NPower remotely to make necessary web site changes to respond to the crisis.
At NPower, we pride ourselves in providing IT support for nonprofits that rivals what you might find in the corporate world. The Microsoft Office 2010 Suite used by our consultants, gives us a professional, high quality delivery of products and services for our nonprofit clients. Having been accustomed to a high level of professionalism found with their corporate volunteers, United Way of Central Carolinas selected NPower to function as the CIO for their organization based in part on the quality of our solution delivery. Microsoft’s donation helps NPower support not only United Way but the 93 agencies they serve, each addressing the basic building blocks of a better life through education, financial stability, and health. With the down economy, training opportunities throughout the corporate and nonprofit sectors are limited. The donated exam vouchers will help our IT engineers maintain their high level of technology expertise and quickly get up to speed on the latest Microsoft products and services to better meet our client needs. With these tools, we are equipped to help Charlotte’s nonprofit community do more with less. Thank you, Microsoft, for the generous donation and for your continued commitment to supporting nonprofit technology advancement.
About NPower Charlotte Region
NPower Charlotte Region is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit technology consultancy that works exclusively with 501(c)(3) organizations. NPower Charlotte Region is part of the national NPower network and serves the 14 county region surrounding Charlotte, NC. NPower works with nonprofit organizations to improve current technology and implement needed technology programs to achieve improvements that enable them to better serve their clients. Visit NPower Charlotte Region at www.npowercharlotteregion.org. (Pictured left: NPower Charlotte Region Staff)
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A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Canterbury Province in New Zealand (population: 440,000) Monday just before midnight local time. There are approximately 75 fatalities confirmed with a potential for that number to reach more than 300. The New Zealand government has declared a state of emergency and has been conducting search and rescue efforts throughout the day yesterday and overnight (local time).
The structural damage is reported to be more significant than the 7.2 magnitude quake that impacted the area last September due to the depth and epicenter location, but assessments are ongoing.
Microsoft activated its Disaster Response protocol and we are taking a number of steps, including ensuring the safety of our employees and offering customers, partners, and local response agencies technical support to help ensure business continuity.
We know from our work supporting response efforts for other disasters in the past that technology can help response agencies to deliver aid more quickly and efficiently. We are working with lead government organizations and non-profits to assess where our resources can be most helpful.
In addition, Microsoft New Zealand is offering support to effected customers and business partners. We hope this will help our customers as they respond to the disaster and rebuild their IT capability in the coming weeks and months. More information about our support offerings can be found here.
As with any disaster, we know our employees want to help, and we will direct them to donation and volunteer opportunities as they become available.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the people affected by this devastating earthquake and hope that our support will help with relief and recovery efforts in the coming weeks and months.
Posted by Claire Bonilla, Senior Director, Microsoft Business Continuity and Disaster Response
By: Lauren Woodman, Microsoft General Manager, Partners in Learning
While you still have a few months to send your mom flowers for Mother’s Day, today we take time to appreciate our Mother tongue. As designated by UNESCO, International Mother Language Day reminds us of the need to preserve and respect the deep history and culture associated with the many languages spoken around our world. And rightly so. There are roughly 6,000 languages spoken globally, and half of those are projected to be in danger of being lost forever over the next century.
At Microsoft, we support the preservation of this element of culture through our Local Language Program (LLP), and in honor of today, International Mother Language Day, announce support for several new languages in Windows 7 and Office 2010. Dari (Afghanistan), Mongolian (Cyrillic - Mongolia), Turkmen (Turkmenistan) and Valencian (Spain) are now available with Windows 7 and for Office 2010, we added support for those same languages plus Maltese (Malta). With these additions, Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 are now available in nearly 96 languages, 60 of which are through the Local Language Program.
This program not only helps us to preserve local languages and cultures, but also helps in finding new ways to create economic opportunities and build IT skills. Through the LLP, we strive to help ensure that the identity of communities continues to thrive worldwide. As a matter of fact, nearly 1.7 billion people speak the languages that are supported by our most recently released products in the Local Language Program. We also work with Visual Studio to provide technology access in a variety of languages, including new support this year to speakers of Czech, Polish, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Hungarian, Malay and Thai.
While in many parts of the world, technology has transformed the way people and businesses share and use information, improved the way children and adults learn, and helped governments address social and economic issues in ways never before imagined, people must first have access to the technology and the skills to use it. Through joint efforts by Microsoft Unlimited Potential, governments, universities, local language experts and NGOs, we’re working to reach all those currently underserved.
For a look at the real-life benefits of this tool, check out how Jan Martinovic, Associate Professor, VSB Tech University of Ostrava is using it to help his students learn programming. He shares that the “first programming language that our students learn is C/C++. When they start their study they have to not only learn this programming language or programming in general, but also how to use specific development tools and in the most cases they have to also learn English. Students study English during their education and eventually they get used to materials or tools in English. Usually English is not a problem for them after several semesters. But at the very beginning this can be a difficult situation for them and some of them even won’t make it because of their poor English. Using Visual Studio 2010 with native language pack can be crucial for such students. They can focus on programming and not on English using this language pack.” A video case study including his experience with the LLP support for the Czech language is here.
For more stories about the impact of the Local Language Program, visit the Worldwide Public Sector Virtual Press Kit.
Join me today in appreciation of the many cultures that make up our world and the ways we can help them thrive.
At GSEC: Black Bengal meats team presents sustainable community farming and better nutrition in Bangladesh to judges and visitors
Can business change the world for the better? Yes it can if the student teams participating in this week's Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) are any indication. With a deep commitment to solve a social issue through a sustainable business plan, there seems to be no stopping these individuals.
GSEC, an annual competition hosted by the University of Washington Foster School of Business brings 10-15 student teams from around the world to Seattle. These semi-finalist teams spend a week visiting companies, meeting with mentors, practicing their pitches and competing in a series of events leading up to the final competition. This year the participants hailed from Bangladesh, India, Peru, Ukraine and the United States. From clean toilets and waste processing in Kenya to water transportation and storage in India to sustainable fish farming in Ghana and skilled workforce training in Ethiopia, the range of business ideas is amazing. Check on the full list of semi-finalists.
Microsoft has been a sponsor of GSEC for seven years now and we are proud to see how far this competition has come. From my perspective, one of the best aspects about GSEC is the opportunity for Microsoft employees to participate and support the event. This year we had eight employees serving in various capacities as coaches, presenter, mentors and judges, including Lili Cheng, our GM at Microsoft FUSE (Future Social Experience) labs, who served as a final round judge. Lili also presented the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) award at the GSEC Awards Banquet yesterday evening.
Over the past several years we have increasingly seen the use of ICTs across many of the GSEC semi-finalist teams. In almost every case, technology is leveraged for greater efficiency and effectiveness and in many instances technology is the core component in the business plan. Just think of mobile phones - with access increasing almost exponentially in developing and emerging markets (5 billion subscribers is a recent figure), they come into play in everything from marketing, to data collection to telemedicine. And social entrepreneurs like those with us in Seattle this week are using ICTs in innovative ways that were unimaginable just 5 or 10 years ago. Recognizing the growing use of ICTs in the GSEC business plans, we decided this year to sponsor a new award for innovative use of ICT, which comes with a $10,000 prize.
The ICT award this year went to Next Drop - an innovative approach to alerting consumers to the availability of water in their neighborhood via cell phones. By adding a cell-phone based reporting system among the utility workers tasked who open water main valves, Next Drop can now send advance alters to customers that water will be available in the next 30-60 minutes. The time saved by freeing up consumers to go about other activities (including attending school for children!) rather than waiting at home in the hope that water will be turned on is a major improvement in the daily lives of these individuals.
The finalist teams are off at a breakfast with potential investors this morning and having met these amazing teams I can almost guarantee they will be walking away with interested investors and invaluable connections. It was again a please to participate in GSEC this year and we look forward to next year.
"Wello - changing lives through a simple solution to a persistent problem, transporting and storing water"
For more pictures and footage, you can check out GSEC's Facebook
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Stephen Campbell is a man who doesn't let obstacles get in his way. A swimmer since his youth, he lost his sight at the age of 16, but that didn't stop him pursuing his passion for the sport. He began competing in high performance swimming at the age of 17, breaking two swimming records when he competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in the 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle and the 100m Butterfly races.
"When I lost my eyesight, swimming helped me realize there's more to life than sitting at home. I can jump into the pool and not need any help from anyone. When I am in the pool, there is ultimate freedom."
Campbell's other accolades include winning the coveted President's Plate, awarded by the University of Ulster Sports Union to the sportsperson of the year for the University of Ulster's Coleraine and Magee campuses. In October 2009, he set three new Irish records at the International Paralympic Committee European Swimming Championships in Iceland and broke two Irish records at the U.S. Paralympics 2009 Swimming World Championships. In August 2007, Campbell won the Silver Medal in the final of the 200m individual medley at the International Blind Sports World Games in Brazil.
He has taken a similar approach to his other passion; technology.
Stephen, who is studying for a Bachelor of Science Honors degree in Multimedia Computing and Design, says he's always had a passion for technology. "When I lost my eyesight at 16, technology took over my life. When you can't see, technology can be a valuable tool," he said.
He is a third-year student at the University of Ulster at Magee College in Derry in Northern Ireland recently worked with Ireland's Institute of Sport's Career Athlete Development Programme to secure a technical internship at Microsoft. The Programme, a partnership with the Irish Government and Microsoft, helps elite athletes gain real-world experience in the workplace.
Campbell's Microsoft internship started in September 2010 and will finish in July 2011. "I took to Microsoft like a duck takes to water," Campbell said. "High performance sports is so similar to working at this company. As an athlete, you need to be motivated and set yourself constant short, mid and long-term goals to know how you are improving. And that is the culture at Microsoft - it's a highly driven workplace." That discipline is also reflected daily in Campbell's tough schedule, which includes a two-hour early morning swim training session, then off to work and school.
As part of his internship, Campbell gets the opportunity to work across several Microsoft product teams, including Windows and Office. On the Windows Core team, Campbell worked closely from Dublin with the team back in Redmond, Washington to test Windows Narrator from an end user's perspective and give feedback on what could be improved. Windows Narrator is a light-duty screen reader utility included in Microsoft Windows 7 that reads dialog boxes and window controls in a number of the more basic applications for Windows.
Gary Keegan, Director, Irish Institute of Sport; Fiona Mullan, International Staffing Director, Microsoft Ireland; Mark Christie, Middle Distance Runner; Stephen Campbell, Paralympic Swimmer; Liam Harbison, CEO , Paralympic Council of Ireland (photo courtesy of University of Ulster)
"Hiring a talent like Stephen who is focused on realizing his potential by focusing on his ability rather than his disability, has proven to all of us the opportunity which exists here. Like his passion for swimming, Stephen has a passion for technology and is demonstrating just how enabling technology is," said Fiona Mullan, International Staffing Director, Microsoft Ireland.
"Working on the Narrator project was most exciting to me because I was able to come at the project from a user's perspective to help improve the application because I knew what would be successful. I also knew that millions of people with vision impairments will be using this application and I was thrilled be making a difference in their lives by helping to improve it," he said.
After working in Windows, Campbell then moved to a role on the Office International Product Group, where he is learning the ins and outs of program management - from how to manage a team of people to managing the delivery of a team project. He's also exploring new tests to perform to help future versions of Office.
Campbell will continue to compete in swimming. He is currently training for the European Championships in July 2011 in Germany, and is hoping to join the Paralympics team for the games in London in 2012. While Campbell says the London games will possibly be his last competition, his future in technology is just beginning.
You can read more about Stephen's story at the Microsoft Global Diversity & Inclusion site.
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