Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
By Jane Meseck, Director of Citizenship
Back in September, we took a new step forward to help nonprofits more easily harness the power of technology to do more good. Significantly widening the scope of our Technology for Good program, we began donating Office 365 to nonprofits worldwide.
Originally launching the offer in 40 countries with plans to roll it out in up to 90 countries by July 2014, Office 365 is now available in an additional 14 countries. Nonprofits in Argentina, China, Colombia, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia, and Ukraine can now request a donation of Office 365. There’s no cap on the number of nonprofit employees who can get on board, whether the organization has 10 employees or thousands.
Seamlessly accessing information from anywhere across multiple devices is essential to allowing nonprofit Splash focus on what’s most important — providing clean, safe drinking water to vulnerable children around the world.
Splash provides clean drinking water to youth in Thailand and five other countries.
Before adopting Office 365, Splash was spending more time scheduling meetings and addressing inefficiencies than figuring out how to clean water for young people. With offices in seven countries, contact with international staff presented a particular challenge.
Office 365 changed all that for Splash, allowing the staff to worry less about technology and focus more on their vital roles in achieving the organization’s mission.
“Whether it's our country director in China, our bookkeeper in Seattle, or our hygiene team in Nepal, Office 365 gives all staff an easy way to communicate and stay connected,” says Lindsey Walsh, operations associate at Splash.
Lindsey loved the ease of getting Office 365 up and running. After adding Splash’s domain to the system, she was able to easily migrate everything to Office 365.
Office 365 also made a major rebranding easy for Splash. Formerly known as A Child’s Right, the organization was nervous about the change to Splash. Lindsey thought it would be particularly challenging with staff in different time zones all over the world.
“I was shocked with how easy and seamless the process was. It took almost no time at all and I didn't hear of one staff member having a problem. It was as if no change happened at all, which I think is a true testament to how easy it was,” says Lindsey.
For nonprofits with offices in multiple locations, Office 365 simplifies collaboration. Staff can view their colleagues’ calendars to find ideal meeting times, share documents without worrying about version control, and hold group meetings with high definition video conferencing. The added benefit of a cloud-based product is the ability to access documents from anywhere.
“In China, we're about to announce that every single orphanage in the country has clean water, and in Thailand we also have exciting visions to scale in children's institutions. Office 365 has enabled Splash to have a system in place that supports our achievement of these goals,” notes Lindsey.
If you work at a nonprofit, now is a great time to apply for a donation of Office 365 for Nonprofits. If you have a favorite nonprofit, please help us spread the news by sharing the video below.
By Johann Koss, President and CEO, Right To Play
Johann Koss speaking at the Big Red Ball at the Roundhouse, London
I believe that play has the power to change a child’s life.
Play provides children with the skills necessary to help them reach their full potential. It’s an innovative idea, and when it comes to international development, I believe innovation and collaboration are key to successfully building a better future.
That's why I'm excited about our partnership with Microsoft YouthSpark. Through play and technological innovation, we're empowering young people and teaching them the skills they need — not to receive change, but to create it.
At Right To Play, we operate play-based education programs in more than 20 countries around the world. We reach one million children and youth through weekly play activities that enhance their educations, teach critical health lessons, and help them develop the confidence and leadership skills to build more peaceful communities.
But we can’t do it alone, which is where collaboration comes into play.
With Microsoft’s investment, our Raising Her Voice program in East Africa aims to reach 110,000 children by 2015 through the power of play. The gender-equality-focused program is already reaching more than 77,000 young people – 53 per cent girls – in Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.
And we are seeing the impact.
Catherine Kobusinge, a teacher at Buhanika Primary School in Hoima, Uganda, says there have always been certain topics that she could not easily teach in her classroom. In Uganda, social conventions make conversations about sex, reproduction and issues like HIV and AIDS taboo.
This, however, does not change the fact that HIV and AIDS rates in Ugandan youth are among East Africa’s highest – and they’re on the rise.
So Catherine needed to get creative. Becoming a Right To Play Coach helped her do just that.
At the heart of our programs are more than 13,500 Coaches. They are the local volunteer teachers and community leaders who lead our weekly programs and act as role models in their communities.
As a trained Right To Play Coach in the Raising Her Voice program, Catherine now uses play to engage her students in activities and conversations that can save their lives.
Catherine says the games have helped build her students’ confidence, and has opened up lines of communication – particularly with female students – that are helping teachers address sensitive issues, like reaching puberty, which might otherwise see young women quit school.
Coaches like Catherine, who share our belief in the power of play represent our ultimate collaboration. Their investment is critical to the sustainability of our programs, and their creative application of Right To Play is educating and empowering the next generation of leaders.
With Microsoft’s guidance and expertise, we’re leveraging technology to make greater investment in those Coaches futures too.
We’ve already begun to create a digital library of our more than 600 unique games and activities, and we will be launching a pilot program in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya to train 3,000 Coaches in basic digital literacy. Not only will this help Coaches access our digital materials worldwide, but it offers them a set of skills that will improve their job prospects and benefit their communities.
Today, to succeed we need to work together to find innovative new approaches that engage young people in their own development and empower them to become the architects of change within their communities.
From play to education to skills. Now that’s innovation.
By Elisa Willman, Senior Manager MarComm, Microsoft Citizenship
Kelly Vuong sat in the back of a classroom during a tour at the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Santa Ana, California, observing a visually impaired four-year-old boy tilt his face to the sky to feel the warm August sunshine. Before entering the classroom, he felt the magnets on the door that represented different weather patterns and repositioned the sun magnet as part of his daily educational routine.
She noticed his independence, as his small cane dropped twice from the classroom’s cane rack next to the door. He searched the floor to retrieve it and placed it back in the rack, but the empty slot had an obstruction – a bent hook – that kept pushing the walking stick from its spot. Soon, the little boy felt the bent hook and fixed it, placing the cane in the rack for the third and final time before he entered the classroom.
Kelly, a community development specialist at the Microsoft store in Costa Mesa, was touched by the child’s determination. She knew that Microsoft would be supportive of the Blind Children’s Learning Center and the education it provides during early stages of childhood development to those with visual impairments. She knew the nonprofit would be a perfect fit for our mission to help businesses and individuals – especially children - reach their full potential.
“They are working for and advocating for children at a very young age,” Kelly said about the center. “Now, the children have this education that allows them to overcome and adapt, versus withdraw and hide.”
Presenting a $14,640 check to the Blind Children's Learning Center
As part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative and our Employee Giving Program, Kelly is featured as one of 30 Microsoft employee Giving Heroes who are helping young people overcome a number of challenges and capture new opportunities. As a Giving Hero, the Center will receive an additional $1,000 grant and her story will continue to be highlighted giving them a chance to raise even more money through the upcoming #GivingTuesday campaign.
Most of the money Microsoft donated to the Blind Children’s Learning Center combined with other donations will go toward purchasing adaptive technology including Microsoft Surface Pro tablets and Windows 8 operating systems for each classroom. The technology allows children to use touch screens, brail keyboards, and magnify and narrate information on computer screens. Such educational opportunity motivates learning, eases transitions into the sighted world, and empowers students.
“We want to encourage them to grow up to be independent and successful and to reach for their dreams, without limits,” said Carolyn Baker, Director of Development at the Blind Children’s Learning Center and Kelly’s tour guide last year. “Technology is a way to do that, with an extra edge.”
When Kelly was a child herself, she learned firsthand the power of mentors and volunteers. At four years old and the youngest of six siblings, Kelly and her family fled Vietnam as refugees sailing toward America. She received help from volunteers in the U.S. and says she knows that it takes only one person to make a difference. Now she strives to pay forward the kindnesses of those who supported her and her family to build the life she now leads.
“It’s that power of sharing and advocacy that is really strong,” Kelly said. “I feel very fortunate to work for Microsoft and with Microsoft employees in such an ingrained effort. It is such part of our Microsoft DNA: to give back and be connected to our community.”
Meet other Giving Heroes by following #youthspark, #givinghero and #msftgiving on Microsoft Facebook and Twitter. We’ll showcase inspiring employees making a difference for youth each day this month and leading into #GivingTuesday.
By Lori Forte Harnick, general manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs
Each day, all around the world, thousands of people come to work at Microsoft. All of them help move our company forward, each in their own unique way. Outside of their “day jobs” Microsoft employees also make significant contributions through our employee giving program when they raise money for people in need in local communities near and far. Throughout the year, and most recently during our October giving campaign, we've been especially inspired to see a large number of our employees support efforts to help young people gain access to greater opportunities for education and employment.
This month, leading into #GivingTuesday, we’re highlighting 30 employee “Giving Heroes” who have made a significant and direct impact on the lives of young people in their communities. We invite you to read their stories on the Microsoft Facebook page and find out what inspires them to work with a range of amazing youth-serving nonprofits, such as FIRST Robotics, Code.org, Washington State Opportunity Scholarships, FAME, Blind Children’s Learning Center and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation.
Once you’ve taken a look, you may want to think about becoming a Giving Hero, too. On #GivingTuesday, December 3, Microsoft will amplify fundraising for these youth causes and many, many others by providing a 1:1 matching donation for all gifts on GlobalGiving.org/YouthSpark/Heroes.
Please join us on #GivingTuesday and consider becoming a Giving Hero for youth around the world. In truth, it only takes one person to make a difference in another person’s life. And, that person can be you.
By Kari Sherrodd, Senior PR Manager, Microsoft Citizenship
In a post today on the Microsoft Disaster Response Blog, Microsoft Disaster Response Senior Communications Manager Molly Bull shares a list of resources for those who wish to support nonprofit organizations providing aid to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
To see the list of nonprofits, interactive maps with situational information and crowd sourced social media data, and more updates on relief efforts, please read the full post on the Microsoft Disaster Response Blog.
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