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In the United States, November 11th is Veterans Day - a time when the country stops and recognizes the incredible service and sacrifice of those who have served their country with such distinction. This week we want to celebrate our veterans and highlight not only their achievements, but also shine a light on the challenges they face as they transition back into civilian life and the incredible work underway across the country to help them.
This week we are dedicating our Citizenship web site and the Unlimited Potential blog to celebrate U.S. veterans and their families and bring you some new perspectives and opinions.
Back in March we announced our Elevate America Veterans initiative. This is an extension of our Elevate America program that puts a focus on helping U.S. veterans and their spouses to successfully make the transition from military to civilian employment. As we have worked on building the program we have had the opportunity to work closely with many of the incredible Veterans Services Organizations, nonprofits and veterans themselves and have along the way got some great insight into the challenges our veterans face when they leave the military.
It was this experience that gave us the idea of dedicating a full week to share those stories and highlight those challenges.
During the week you will:
We hope you’ll find the stories we share this week interesting and thought provoking. If nothing else, we hope it’ll provide you with a new perspective on the men and women who selflessly dedicate their lives to serving their country.
This week is a great opportunity to reflect and recognize on the incredible contribution our veterans make to our country. We hope our small effort can help to shine a light on that.
More veterans resources:
By Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Note: This post is part of a weeklong celebration of U.S. military veterans. You can find more stories and resources at the Microsoft Citizenship website.
Veterans don’t need lip service. They need jobs. And so far, we haven’t seen any meaningful action coming from Washington. But a powerful ally is stepping up to fill the void: The Private Sector.
None of us need reminding that we’re in one of the worst economies in decades. More than 15 million Americans are jobless, and veterans are being hit even harder. Young veterans are facing 20% unemployment, a rate that has increased significantly from just 6.1% in 2007.
Veterans like Adam Bryant are being left out in the cold.
Adam deployed for a year to Afghanistan in 2008. While there, he managed million-dollar infrastructure projects, held a security clearance, and led his unit as a gunner on dangerous combat patrols. He also proved himself as an accomplished photographer and photojournalist.
Yet, when he got home, no one would hire him. Adam sent out dozens of resumes only to receive radio silence. The only interview he got was at The Cheesecake Factory where, after describing his military qualifications, he was discounted for lack of experience waiting tables.
Adam is just one of thousands of new veterans struggling to make the leap from military service to the civilian workforce. And still, Congress has failed to deliver.
Photo courtesy of the IAVA.
While Washington stands idle, the private sector has been revving up. Across the board, enlightened companies like Microsoft are stepping up to hire veterans and connect them with the tools needed to succeed in the workforce.
These companies get it. And more seem to be catching on. Unfortunately Washington isn’t.
What have they been focused on instead? Things like postage stamps and college tennis teams – as highlighted last month by Jon Stewart. Taking a cue from the private sector, Washington must step up and deliver jobs and employment resources to the veterans’ community. If private companies get it, the White House and Congress must learn, too.
Learn more about Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and get involved at www.iava.org.
Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
Paul Rieckhoff, is the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). A non-partisan non-profit group with over 100,000 members around the world, IAVA was founded in 2004 and is America’s first and largest Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans organization. Rieckhoff was a First Lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in the Iraq war from 2003-2004. He is now a nationally recognized authority on the war in Iraq and issues affecting troops, military families and veterans.
To celebrate the launch of our Elevate America Veterans initiative, which helps veterans to transition from military to civilian employment, we are launching a sweepstakes for veterans to win one of twelve Xbox 360 4GB consoles with Kinect.
The competition will run from November 8th through November 23rd 2010 and the winners will be announced the second week in December.
Kinect brings games and entertainment to life in extraordinary new ways without using a controller. Imagine controlling movies and music with the wave of a hand or the sound of your voice. With Kinect, technology evaporates, letting the natural magic in all of us shine. You can find out more about Kinect here.
This competition is part of a weeklong celebration of U.S. military veterans. You can find more veterans news and resources on the Microsoft Citizenship website.
Entering the sweepstakes is straightforward.
It is only open to U.S. military veterans, and to enter you will need a Twitter account. Please review the official rules below before entering.
Honor US veterans with a chance to win an Xbox 360 and Kinect. View official rules here: http://bit.ly/dArv8n @msftcitizenship
Click Here to Tweet
Not a U.S. military veteran?
If you are not a U.S. veteran please help spread the word to your followers who are U.S. military veterans by Tweeting* the following:
Help @msftcitizenship elevate america's #Veterans with a chance to win an Xbox 360 4GB Console with #Kinect: http://bit.ly/dArv8n
*Please note this tweet does not enter you into the sweepstakes, you must be a U.S. Military Veteran to enter
Each of the twelve winners will receive:
OFFICIAL RULES - “ELEVATE AMERICA'S VETERANS” SWEEPSTAKES
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
COMMON TERMS USED IN THESE RULES:
These are the official rules that govern how the Elevate America's veterans initiative sweepstakes promotion will operate. This promotion will be simply referred to as the “Sweepstakes” throughout the rest of these rules.
In these rules, “we,” “our,” and “us” refer to Microsoft Corporation, the sponsor of the Sweepstakes. “You” refers to an eligible Sweepstakes entrant.
WHAT ARE THE START AND END DATES?
This Sweepstakes starts at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) on November 8, 2010, and ends at 11:59 p.m. PT on November 23, 2010 (“Entry Period”). Entries must be received within the Entry Period to be eligible.
CAN I ENTER?
You are eligible to enter this Sweepstakes if you meet the following requirements at time of entry:
This Sweepstakes is void outside of the geographic area described above and wherever else prohibited by law.
HOW DO I ENTER?
To enter, you must be a registered account holder in good standing on Twitter.com and must “follow” @msftcitizenship. Enter by signing in to the your Twitter account; if you do not have an account, visit www.twitter.com to create one. Twitter accounts are free. Once logged into your Twitter account, follow the instructions to become a follower of @msftcitizenship. Then you will receive one entry when you tweet "Honor US veterans with a chance to win an Xbox 360 and Kinect. View official rules here: http://bit.ly/dArv8n @msftcitizenship” from your Twitter account during the Entry Period.
You must be a current follower up until December 10, 2010 to be contacted if you win.
We will only accept one (1) entry per person. You may not create multiple Twitter accounts to fraudulently enter in excess of entry limits.
We are not responsible for entries that we do not receive for any reason, or for entries that we receive but are not decipherable for any reason.
We will automatically disqualify:
WINNER SELECTION AND PRIZES
On or around December 12, 2010, we or our agent will randomly select twelve (12) winners to receive a Grand Prize:
(12) Grand Prize. An Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor. Approximate Retail Value (ARV) $299.00 ea
The total Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of all prizes: $3,588
We will only award one (1) prize per person during the Entry Period.
If you are a potential winner, we will notify you by sending a message to the e-mail address, the phone number, or mailing address (if any) provided at time of entry within seven (7) days following the random drawing. If the notification that we send is returned as undeliverable, or you are otherwise unreachable for any reason, we may award the prize to an alternate, randomly selected winner.
If there is a dispute as to who is the potential winner, we will consider the potential winner to be the authorized account holder of the e-mail address used to enter the Sweepstakes . If you are a potential winner, we may require you to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability/Publicity Release and a W-9 tax form or W-8 BEN tax form within 10 days of notification. If you are a potential winner and you are 18 or older, but are considered a minor in your place of legal residence, we may require your parent or legal guardian to sign all required forms on your behalf. If you do not complete the required forms as instructed and/or return the required forms within the time period listed on the winner notification message, we may disqualify you and select an alternate, randomly selected winner.
If you are confirmed as a winner of this Sweepstakes:
WHAT ARE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING?
Your odds of winning this Sweepstakes depend on the number of eligible entries we receive.
WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS ARE YOU AGREEING TO BY ENTERING THIS SWEEPSTAKES?
By entering this Sweepstakes you agree:
WHAT LAWS GOVERN THE WAY THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS EXECUTED AND ADMINISTRATED?
This Sweepstakes will be governed by the laws of the State of Washington, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts of the State of Washington for any disputes arising out of this Sweepstakes.
WHAT IF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS AND THE SWEEPSTAKES CAN’T RUN AS PLANNED?
If cheating, a virus, bug, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and / or integrity of this Sweepstakes, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this Sweepstakes. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the Sweepstakes, we reserve the right to randomly select winners from among all eligible entries received before we had to cancel, change or suspend the Sweepstakes.
If you attempt to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we may ban you from participating in any of our future Sweepstakes, so please play fairly.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHO WON?
If you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org within 30 days of November 23, 2010, we will provide you with a list of winners that receive a prize worth $25.00 or more.
WHO IS SPONSORING THIS SWEEPSTAKES?
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
By Shannon Banks, Worldwide Leadership Development Consultant, Microsoft
I still remember the day, two years ago, when I hit send on the email. As a leadership development consultant at Microsoft, I was responsible for designing the appropriate experience for 30 of our most talented senior leaders worldwide. What I was proposing was an immersive, unique experience in Africa that I felt would change participants’ perspectives on leadership and the emerging markets while helping them become stronger corporate citizens. It was different from what we had done in the past, and a significant investment of resources and time during a very economically challenging period. When I got the approval to move forward with the program, I was thrilled. In fact, in my 13 years with the company, I have never been prouder to work at Microsoft.
In February 2010, we all landed in Nairobi and kicked off the program. Called Front Lines, the experience we developed brought these Microsoft leaders together with seven partner organizations—including United Nations agencies, IT solutions providers and nonprofit Organizations—all of whom directly contribute to the development of Africa and have an existing strategic relationship with Microsoft. The partners each brought a real business challenge to the event and the majority of the time in Nairobi was spent working together in small groups on these challenges. Additional perspective was added by thought provoking visits to the Mukuru Slums and the Naivasha flower farms as well as powerful keynotes and panel speakers.
Our partners benefited from Front Lines by getting fresh, diverse views on their work and exposure to new problem-solving methodologies, plus a strengthened relationship with Microsoft.
For the Microsoft leaders who participated, the benefits were substantial. Front Lines gave them direct exposure to the opportunities and challenges in Kenya, both through the immersion and the work with the partners. Not only did this help us develop stronger local partner relationships, it gave our leaders much needed exposure to emerging markets and their prevalent business models.
The leaders also learned a lot about themselves and developed core leadership competencies around problem solving and dealing with ambiguity. Finally—and importantly--Front Lines helped them see how corporate citizenship efforts can be strategic and opened their eyes to think about how to be better corporate citizens. In response, they also found immediate opportunities to act—for example by donating funds to help finish a building at the school we visited in Mukuru.
In the words of Ali Faramawy, our vice president of Middle East & Africa “As a company, we have a global mission and inclusive mission statement around enabling opportunity for people and realizing potential for people and business. Getting our top talent to think how our technology and people can make a tangible difference in people’s lives in Africa is just incredible. I leave feeling even stronger about our prospects to make a tangible difference in people’s lives and grow Microsoft’s business.”
Corporations often separate citizenship and leadership development but when they are brought together it is powerful for the companies, the partners/geographies and the participants as individuals. I am proud of the work we have done through Front Lines and proud that Microsoft is continuing to invest in this type of leadership development experience. Next stop, February 2011: Peru.
Shannon Banks, Worldwide Leadership Development Consultant, Microsoft
By Tracy Nilles, Vice President, Global Corporate Leadership at United Way Worldwide
October 25 marked the launch of the United Way Campaign for the Common Good—a national effort to mobilize millions of people and organizations across the country to take action and improve the education, income and health of our communities. The campaign kicked off with a focus on education, and an ambitious goal to cut the high school dropout rate in half.
As a leader in the education space, Microsoft was invited to share insights on a panel for a community conversation on education. Allyson Knox, Academic Program Manager, National Partnerships, Partners in Learning at Microsoft joined parents, teachers, students, education experts and United Way for a candid at into education issues in our communities.
During a breakout group discussion, Microsoft’s Donna Woodall, Citizenship Director; US Public Sector – Washington DC, asked a student what sorts of things Microsoft could bring to her school to improve her educational experience. “Don’t bother,” the girl responded, “it would get messed up.” She went on to talk about the environment at her school and how destructive and unsafe it can be. “If it could be different,” she said, “I would want it to be different.” Later she shared that she doesn’t get a lot of support at home: “I live in a house where no one went to college, but I want to go to college.”
Like this young girl aptly described—there is more to addressing educational issues in our communities than donating books or computers. United Way is engaging diverse people, organizations and companies—like Microsoft—to develop solutions by focusing on creating supportive communities, effective schools and strong families. We can all be a part of the change and help make our schools a better place for our kids. This will result in stronger communities for us all.
United Way is recruiting people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to help young people reach their full potential. LIVE UNITED by helping America's youth succeed in school and life: pledge to support education, and help cut the drop out rate in half by 2018.
Partners around the world connected through Microsoft technology The education panel was held in the newly dedicated Mary M. Gates Learning Center at United Way Worldwide in Alexandria, VA. Bill Gates, Sr., Bill Gates, III, Libby Gates, major donors and United Ways across the globe came together to open the Mary M. Gates Learning Center on October 13. The Center, made possible through a generous gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was built on Mary’s belief that learning, sharing and working together will make the world a better place.
Parents, teachers, students, nonprofits organizations and more gathered together for the first national community conversation to discuss what they want in their community during breakout groups.
Other major contributions for the Mary M. Gates Learning Center included a generous donation of technology and software from Microsoft Corporation. The Center’s technology offers real-time access to ideas and relationships, and can connect United Ways around the world for learning and best practice sharing. The dedication event showcased this state-of-the-art technology by connecting virtually with United Ways in Mumbai, India; San Francisco, California; and Vaal Region, South Africa to explore addressing financial stability issues in their communities.
“My mother would be so happy to know about this Center,” said Bill Gates. “More than anything else, it was my mother’s infectious enthusiasm for United Way that made it a family tradition, and that made giving one of the most rewarding and fun parts of my life.”
Tracy Nilles bring over 18 years of United Way experience to her role leading the Global Corporate Leadership (GCL) program at United Way Worldwide. Tracy and her 25-person team ensure that the 120+ corporations in the GCL program receive the strategies, resources and support they need to achieve the greatest philanthropic impact locally, nationally and around the world. Tracy has a Masters degree in Organizational Communication from Western Kentucky University and a Bachelors degree in Speech Communications and Public Relations from Bloomsburg University. Tracy is an avid golfer and volunteer and serves as an adjunct faculty member at Northern Virginia Community College teaching Public Speaking.
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