Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Jason Vallery recalls his mom joking throughout his childhood that she was smarter than his dad because she made it to 10th grade and his father dropped out in the 9th. As a boy, Jason didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he knew he didn’t want to end up like his parents – without a high school diploma.
Fortunately, help came when Jason was 9. He was in the fourth grade when he and others in his class were adopted by the “I Have a Dream” Foundation. The students, chosen based on family income, were assigned a support group, including mentors and tutors, to work with them all the way through high school graduation.
Jason speaks beside a Dreamer at the “I Have a Dream” luncheon.
The nonprofit foundation provides this long-term support with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. It provides students mentorship, role models and guidance throughout the 10 years and upon graduation, the children, known as Dreamers, are eligible to receive tuition assistance for college.
“The biggest indicator for dropping out of school is being low income so we try to level the playing field for these kids so they have equal opportunities,” says Lori Canova, CEO of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County. “We help them find things they are passionate about and interested in doing. The goal is self-sufficiency, to enable them to rise out of poverty through education.”
Jason credits the organization’s Boulder County chapter with providing him opportunities he would have gone without, and he credits his mentors with not only assuring he made it through high school, but providing the connections he needed to land a good job.
Now 31 with his own young son, Jason works as a field engineer for Microsoft. He has remained connected to the organization and transitioned from being a Dreamer to making dreams happen for other young people. He recently shared his story at the 16th annual “I Have a Dream” luncheon and fundraiser and this fall, he and his wife were able to donate $2,000 to sponsor a child in the program.
“This is one way I’m attempting to pay back a small fraction of the debt I feel towards this organization,” Jason says. “I hope in the years to come I can find further ways to pay it forward and help kids in the same way I was helped.”
Our Employee Giving Program will match Jason’s donation dollar for dollar, allowing two Dreamers to be sponsored. The matching program is part of the yearlong campaign which offers up to $15,000 per employee in cash or volunteer hour donations. Now in its 31st year, the campaign has donated more than $1 billion to more than 31,000 unique organizations.
And, to further extend our support for Jason and the “I Have a Dream Foundation,” we’re featuring his story among 30 Microsoft employee “Giving Heroes” who are helping young people overcome a number of challenges and capture new opportunities. As part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, the youth-serving nonprofits supported by our employee Giving Heroes will each receive an additional $1,000 cash grant and a chance to raise even more money through the upcoming #GivingTuesday campaign.
“Without having the sense of accountability, I could have very well taken the same path my parents did and dropped out of school early,” says Jason. “I didn't though, I stuck through it, and I graduated on time. Without ‘I Have a Dream’, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have the drive, the knowledge, or the experiences that were required to propel me into the successes I've enjoyed. I want to do everything I can to make that happen for the next generation.”
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.
Jason and his family celebrate a graduating “I Have a Dream” class.
By Jane Meseck, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft
Thanks to many of you, we received a tremendous response from the nonprofit community around the world with the launch Windows 8. Windows 8.1 is an evolution of the Windows 8 vision, bringing together powerful productivity apps and a range of ways to ensure your team can reach the resources they need from any device or location.
Now is a great time to make the move to Windows 8.1. Eligible nonprofit organizations and public libraries can request Windows 8.1 through Microsoft’s software donation program. Get started today.
Windows 8.1 introduces a fully customizable Start screen, new search experience, upgraded app store, and improved multi-tasking features.
Windows brings together everything you do – wherever you are, wherever you go.
If you’re ready to get started with Windows 8.1, here are a few steps you can take to learn more:
By Daniel Sytman, Senior Public Relations Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs
In a post today on the Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs Brad Smith officially announced the launch of the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA). The MSSA is an intense, 16-week course helping service members obtain the certification required for information technology careers.
In addition to receiving a Microsoft IT Academy-powered curriculum provided by Saint Martin’s University, service members who complete the pilot program will be hired into entry-level roles as Software Testers by either Microsoft or Launch Consulting, the technology consulting firm administering the program. Active-duty service members transitioning from all branches of the military, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve returning to their civilian jobs, are eligible.
To find out more about the MSSA, please read the full post on the Official Microsoft Blog.
By Karen Bergin, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs
In a post today on the Microsoft Fire Hose blog, the topic is honoring the “Giving Heroes” among us.
Inspired by all the nonprofits helping the next generation of innovators, inventors, and mountain movers, we asked employees to share with us their favorite organizations. Throughout the month we’ll tell their stories on the Microsoft Facebook page. Each day you’ll meet a Microsoft employee who’s working with a super-powered nonprofit to encourage and support young people in our communities.
To find out how you, too, can be a Giving Hero, please read the full post on the Microsoft Fire Hose blog.
By Karen Bergin, Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs
(From left to right) Microsoft employees Vatsala Isaac, Kendall McElliott, Rachel Ash, and Gilmere Vieira at the company’s 5K Run/Walk, an annual Employee Giving Campaign tradition
In a post on the Official Microsoft Blog today, Chief People Officer Lisa Brummel reflects upon the energy and passion Microsoft employees dedicate to raising money to help people less fortunate in communities at home and around the world. This drive to make a real impact is evident throughout the year, and especially in October, during the annual Employee Giving Campaign.
Building on last year’s 30th anniversary milestone of $1 billion raised, we've enhanced the Employee Giving Program this year by increasing the matching funds available to each employee from $12,000 to $15,000. We've also put on more than 300 Giving events throughout the month, including a 5K walk and a 24-hour relay across time zones to raise funds for local nonprofits.
To find out more about our commitment to supporting nonprofits in making the world a better place as we move onward towards the next billion raised, please read the full post on the Official Microsoft Blog.
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