Microsoft Citizenship Blog

  • 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

  • Employee Health Screening Drives Donations to PATH for Childhood Vaccinations in Laos

    By Karen Bergin, director, Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Microsoft’s “Know Your Numbers” health screening is a quick way for employees to take charge of their health. It’s a routine process – blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other biometric testing.

    Last fall's Know Your Numbers campaign was also an example of Microsoft's deep-rooted culture of giving.

    For every employee who participated, the company donated funds to enable PATH, a global health nonprofit organization, to deliver vaccinations to those in need. More than 25,000 employees booked an appointment, so Microsoft is helping to ensure that thousands of children in Southeast Asia receive a lifesaving vaccine against a devastating illness.

    PATH delivered the first of those vaccinations last month to rural communities in Laos at risk of Japanese encephalitis. The timing of Microsoft's donation was perfect, said Monica Graham, a communications officer with PATH's Vaccine Access and Delivery program.

    "If we didn't receive the funds from Microsoft, communities in Laos and Cambodia would have had to wait at least a year," she said. "It made a tremendous impact as we were able to launch campaigns and vaccinate 170,000 children in Laos alone rather than wait for funding."

    To read the story of the children who received life-saving vaccinations this year, visit PATH’s blog.

    Photo: PATH/Aaron Joel Santos

  • Microsoft Joins SF Gives to Fight Poverty in Bay Area

    By Sid Espinosa, Director, Philanthropy and Civic Engagement

    At Microsoft, we invest in community programs that are innovative and focus on real problems and creative solutions. In San Francisco, Microsoft is supporting a new initiative called SF Gives, which is a partnership with Tipping Point, one of the most high-impact organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Tipping Point is tackling poverty by investing in nonprofit organizations that have the greatest impact in education, employment, and housing. The challenges in these areas are significant. There is a striking wealth divide in the Bay Area, with more billionaires residing here than ever before, yet 1 in 5 residents are living in poverty. Tipping Point’s approach is unique in that they provide not just cash support, but they also empower nonprofits through donations of communications, HR, technology, legal, board recruitment, leadership development, real estate, capital projects, strategy, evaluation and fundraising. This holistic approach has proven to be highly effective in strengthening these organizations and moving their good work forward.

    The SF Gives initiative is a new coalition of Bay Area companies that raised $10 million within 60 days to support Tipping Point. Microsoft is proud to join this effort. Other companies supporting SF Gives include Apple, Box, Dropbox, Google, IfOnly, Jawbone, Jelly, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lookout, Okta, Partner Fund Management, POPSUGAR, RPX Corporation, Salesforce Foundation, SV Angel, Workday Foundation and Zynga. Microsoft will be focused on how technology can play a role in addressing poverty issues in the most impactful ways possible. 

    We believe that the business community can and should play an important role – in partnership with other sectors like nonprofit organizations, government agencies, philanthropic foundations, faith-based groups, labor associations, etc. – to address poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area. This work is not new for Microsoft. Every year, we invest tens of millions of dollars (cash, products and services) in nonprofit organizations around the world. Last year in San Francisco alone, this investment totaled $5.4 million. Now, in partnership with Tipping Point, we seek to help low-income individuals and families gain access to effective services that can help them break the cycle of poverty for good. 

    This work will align with Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, which seeks to address the global youth opportunity divide – a gap between those who have access to the skills and training that they need to be successful, and those who do not. With more that 75 million unemployed youth around the world, YouthSpark is committed to creating opportunities for 300 million youth over three years. Through 30+ programs and partnerships with 186 youth-serving nonprofits, we are working on education, entrepreneurship and training programs in over 100 countries around the world.  While this is a global program for Microsoft, we work locally. And here in San Francisco, we know that Tipping Point will be a great partner in addressing the Bay Area challenges because they are already having a positive and significant impact.

    More information can be found here.

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