Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Guest post by Linda Lockhart – Managing Director, Global Give Back Circle
Participants of the Global Give Back Circle
1990 – In the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya, not far from the home of Mama Sarah Obama (as she likes to be called), a baby girl is born to a very young mother. The baby girl is said to have entered the world ‘smiling’ and has not stopped since. Vivian Onano, was born into the Luo tribe, the same tribe as President Obama.
Although not common for a girl from this rural community to complete high school, Vivian’s mother did, and her education played an important role in Vivian’s journey to ‘I am’. Vivian was raised by her grandmother during the years while her mother worked hard to find employment in the town of Kisumu. Vivian had a happy childhood and loved helping her grandparents catch fish from Lake Victoria to sell in town. They lived in a typical rural area manner – in huts made from dung and mud without electricity or water. Every day, Vivian playfully walked cows and goats to the lake and on the way back she balanced a colorful container of water on her head. She made dolls out of mud and balls out of plastic bags. At night, she slept on the traditional bed of her village - a mat made of sweet reeds. Vivian was surrounded by love.
By the time Vivian finished 4th grade, her mother had a stable job selling used clothes in the open air market in Kisumu. Concerned that Vivian was not getting an education fitting her aptitude, she managed every way she could to enroll Vivian in a primary school where she would wear shoes to class and receive an education that would eventually propel her to being one of the highest primary school performers in her province and would secure her a place is a school for gifted, disadvantaged girls in Nairobi called Starehe Girls’ Centre.
In 2006, Vivian (pictured above) became a member of the Global Give Back Circle. In 2007 she wrote her first Give Back Commitment and learned how to Give Back 'Time & Skills' from reading GIVING. In 2008 she learned that a CGI Commitment for $350,000 came to fruition at the 2008 CGI Meeting and as a result she will not walk back into the circle of poverty when she graduated high school. In 2009 she participated in the 9-month Microsoft IT Course, which was a part of the CGI Commitment, and the computer connected her to the world in ways she could never imagine. She used it to research colleges and landed herself a full scholarship to Carthage College in Wisconsin, as a pre-med major.
In 2009 Vivian Committed to Ambassador Ranneberger, US Ambassador to Kenya, that she would help him in his efforts to get the private sector involved in societal interventions like the Global Give Back Circle, and she spent 6 months selling to CEOs the importance of ‘Good Economics’ a term she heard President Clinton coin as the sweet spot whereby the business strategy of ‘human capital development’ is linked with compassion as private sector invest in girls as an investment in the economic sustainability of their markets. Vivian figured she could help raise $1 M of private sector investment to enable 100 more girls to continue onto college, employment and global citizenship. She was part of a group of 35 girls who were already invested ‘in’ – thanks to CGI. She wanted to Give Back now.
In September 2010 Vivian was the youngest speaker at the annual CGI Meeting in NYC, speaking on the topic of 'Democratizing Education'. She was able to be a voice for how technology is flattening the world. Vivian will always hold a place in her heart for Microsoft and the gift of ICT skills that they bestowed on her through their commitment to the ‘Unlimited Potential’ of women and girls. During CGI week, Vivian attended a reception with Pamela Passman (one of her role models, pictured left together) from Microsoft. She wore a traditional dress from her province in Kisumu. A traditional dress for a Luo. A traditional dress for a woman with unlimited potential.
In February 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya, Vivian's best friend, Wilkista (lost both her parents and also from Kisumu) rejoiced with other girls when it was learned that USAID joined the CGI Commitment with a $3.5 M GDA Award for the education & empowerment of GIRLS. This meant that the Circle’s original Commitment of $350,000 for 35 girls would escalate to a $7 M Commitment for 500 + Girls! A miracle created through the vision of CGI and the compassion of the citizens of the United States of America and the support of the people and government of Kenya.
In February 2011 - Wilkista visited Mama Sarah Obama and let her know the good news about the USAID Partnership and that the Global Give Back Circle would be in a position to help girls in the orphanage she runs, as they are just like Vivian and Wilkista, girls who wish to soar.
On March 8 Vivian will visit the White House as a guest of the First Lady for a reception to commemorate International Women’s Day. She will wear her traditional Luo Dress. If asked, she will speak about her CGI U Commitment to Action 'Hey Sister, Get Clued-Up' – a peer-to-peer social network website to educate African women and girls on issues related to health, financial literacy and social network protection. She will also speak about her upcoming trip to San Diego to be with President Clinton when she will launch the ‘Hey Sister’ Commitment to Acton with Wilkista, and two other colleagues who will travel from Kenya to represent the Global Give Back Circle at CGI U – a tangible reflection of how a circle of empowerment can become a sustainable model for change as beneficiaries transform into benefactors.
Posted by Brad Smith Microsoft General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs
Cross post from Microsoft on the Issues Blog
This morning marked an important milestone in our work to improve the quality of education in Washington State. A number of us came together for the official launch of Washington STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) a new privately funded program to improve teaching and learning in the critical disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.
As a state we need to strengthen performance in these disciplines in order to prepare young people to compete in the fastest growing fields in a knowledge-based economy and to understand and make informed judgments about many of the most challenging issues facing society.
With global leaders in information technology, biotech, global health, clean energy, trade, agribusiness, and precision manufacturing, Washington’s economy is already driven by innovation. That trend will only continue, and projections are that by 2018, two-thirds of the jobs in our state will require college education. And while Washington ranks fourth in the nation in technology-based corporations, we are close to the bottom in student participation in science and engineering graduate programs.
As a state, we must redouble our efforts to prepare students to take advantages of these career opportunities, starting while students are in elementary and middle school. We need to interest more students in the STEM disciplines by providing them with engaging, inquiry-based instruction that provides a foundation of basic STEM concepts.
That is why Microsoft is proud to join Boeing, McKinstry, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others as a founding partner of Washington STEM. Our company’s $6 million commitment over three years will help Washington STEM make focused investments in programs to improve student learning in these crucial areas.
Washington STEM announced today an initial class of 15 grant recipients, including such well-known and well-respected programs as MESA, a leader in STEM education programs for students from traditionally under-represented populations; Teach for America, which recruits outstanding recent college graduates to teach for at least two years in urban or rural schools; and the Technology Access Foundation Academy, which serves students in Federal Way and is looking to expand to serve Renton as well. Schools from around the state, from Bellevue to Neah Bay and from Chimicum to Tacoma, will receive grants to support and expand programs that are already effectively improving student achievement in the STEM disciplines.
We believe that Washington STEM can become a shining example of what can happen when businesses, non-profit groups, and educators join forces to improve the education we provide to the students of our state. And it is another example of Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that kids in our state are better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that await them in the coming years.
Guest post by: Joanna Hafenmayer, Citizenship Lead Switzerland
February 16th was a crazy day in the life of the 4th graders of the primary school Näglimoos in Kloten, right outside of Zurich, Switzerland – and so it was for me.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was visiting the school and there was a media conference going on with plenty of reporters, photographers and cameras. Preparations started early in the morning.
Picture: 8am, Steve signing a diploma for each of the students stating that they have been trained within the security4kids initiative
Steve came to honor the 20,000th pupil that has been trained with the Swiss online safety curriculum with certificates and a huge chocolate lock. In the following press conference and celebration, Microsoft was able to look back onto five years of successful engagement and thought leadership in Switzerland with security4kids. Many of the initiative’s partners – NGOs, public agencies, criminal protection organizations and others - were present to underline the success and relevance of our online safety engagement in Switzerland and also to highlight the challenges that kids, parents and teachers face when trying to stay safe online and understanding what to do and what not to do.
Based on the experience of previous years, Microsoft announced the BuddyGuard, a free chat counseling service for children that can be accessed directly from within Windows Live Messenger – rights where the kids spend a lot of their time.
The most important things to observe when chatting:
1. Protect yourself and your data: no photos, webcam or phone numbers exchanged with people you do not know personally
2. Private things private: don’t share too much information with strangers
3. Be careful who you chat with: photos in chat profiles are not necessarily real and someone saying they are a kid can be a grown up.
4. Don’t agree to meet strangers: if you met someone in chat that you would like to meet in person – talk to your parents first
5. Don’t let anyone pressure you: stop the chat or talk to your parents if some says odd or unpleasant things
6. Be fair: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself
The kids weren’t just interested in the online safety training that day, they were curious to see if the CEO of a major global company - Steve Ballmer - would actually agree to wear the funny black security agent hat that we prepared for him.
He did! And after calling out every single kid’s name and leaving the school for the next meeting, he left me and the whole team responsible for the project and preparation a little bit relieved that everything went well but more importantly a little bit proud and a little bit touched.
Steve handing out a security training diploma to one of the students.
Steve celebrating the 20’000th student trained in security behavior with a Swiss chocolate security lock.
More photos can be found here.
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Microsoft Community Affairs and TechSoup recently hosted a webinar focused on how moving to the cloud can benefit nonprofits. If you’ve been paying attention to the latest tech trends - or even if you haven’t - then you have probably heard the term “cloud” thrown around a lot. At a basic level, “The Cloud” describes an approach to computing that’s about taking advantage of Internet scale and connecting to (and from) a variety of devices. It could involve moving IT services such as email, collaboration tools, or constituent management software to the Internet so that those tools do not have to be hosted locally. The cloud delivers IT as a service, freeing you up to focus on your mission.
Technology is changing and the cloud is opening new opportunities for nonprofits to not only save money on administration costs but deliver new services.
This was the subject of the recent webinar presented by Anna Jaeger of TechSoup Global and Microsoft Community Affairs. We showed how the cloud can help nonprofits turn their attention and valuable resources from mundane time intensive tasks such as tech maintenance to more inspiring parts of their work that have a real impact in their community.
If you are feeling slightly apprehensive about your cloud-ward mobility then this webinar is for you. It is a great 101 course aimed at clearing up some of the murky confusion regarding: data security, measurable costs (learn how one org saved $20,000!), reliability and its benefits.
Ready to learn more? Visit http://bit.ly/ngowebinar to download the recording, view the presentation slides and find links to great articles to help you navigate your cloud journey.
Fear not and embrace it! Cloud computing (like Rock n' Roll) is here to stay.
Please join us for our next nonprofit webinar Connect, Collaborate & Engage: The potential of SharePoint for nonprofits & public libraries on March 9th at 11:00am PST.
Microsoft's Community Technology Skills Program began in 2003. Since then, 170 million individuals have been touched by the program around the world - individuals who used the Community Technology Centers to brush up on their skills; others who took a more intensive training course and ultimately received their Digital Literacy certificate; those who learned at their own pace at home; and yet others whose more unique needs were met through a combination of assistive technology and skilled trainers. There are truly 170 million stories out there, and I'd like to note just four that were recently highlighted in this article in the The Star, an English language newspaper in Malaysia.
Lim Jin Sheng was injured in a car accident in 2006, impacting his vision, speech and other motor skills. In the course of his rehabilitation he came across IT skills training through the Society for the Physically Disabled in Singapore (SPD). Despite initial concerns about his ability to learn these new skills, he successfully completed the courses and is now employed as an administrative assistant - building his independence and confidence.
Gerald Bartholomew, on the other hand, was born with severely impaired vision. As part of his job search process he was able to take advantage of assistive technology (devices and applications to ease access and use of computers and technology for persons with disabilities) available at SPD and complete office productivity applications training (email, spreadsheets, word processing and presentations). He then worked as a research assistant at SPD and ultimately moved on to another job as an administrator for a company in Singapore. Learn more about Microsoft and SPD here.
Lilibeth Masamloc nearly became a victim of sex trafficking in the Philippines. After enduring years of abuse as an underpaid overworked domestic servant, at the age of 13 Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) stepped in when the threat of being trafficked became very real. Under a VFF program she was brought to a safe shelter and given the support needed to recover from her experience, which included IT skills training. Afraid at first to even touch a computer, Lilibeth grew in confidence through her training and eventually completed a degree in social work. She now speaks at international events on the topic of protecting domestic workers. Discover more on Step UP and VFF here.
A degenerative eye disease did not keep Kenny Johar from pursuing a career in Computer Science. As the manager for architecture, innovation and accessible solutions at Vision Australia he not only benefits from assistive technology himself but has witnessed the broader value of technology to meet the needs of underserved populations. He also has provides feedback on emerging technologies such as touch screens, which pose a particular challenge for the visually impaired, helping to improve subsequent versions of technology.
A critical sub-point here is the importance of partnerships in successfully helping bring technology access and skills to local communities. Without the local knowledge and dedication of organizations like SPD, VFF and Vision Australia, the Microsoft contribution to these efforts would be largely meaningless. In the context of partnership however, our resources of curriculum, software and cash can help extend and deepen programs that make an absolute difference in people's lives. In the end it is all about the role of technology in empowering people to learn, create, communicate and do things that are relevant and meaningful to them.
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