Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs
Have you heard of We Day?
We Day, an initiative of Free The Children, is a concert, a rally, and a celebration of a movement to inspire and encourage young people to serve their communities and work together to make the world a better place.
We Day events have been taking place in Canada since 2007 and on March 27, 2013 the first ever We Day event in the United States will take place at Key Arena in Seattle. The lineup is impressive: musical artists Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, and MC Hammer; actors and activists Martin Sheen and Mia Farrow and a number of athletes, including Magic Johnson, Gary Payton, and Seattle Seahawks Coach Peter Carroll.
The common thread between all of the special guests – whether they’re athletes, actors, singers, or public figures – is that they share a passion for igniting social change in their communities and around the world. And there’s a surprise talent yet to be announced.
As a co-title sponsor of the event, we are thrilled to help bring the first We Day to the United States. We launched Microsoft YouthSpark in September 2012 to help young people discover new opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and employment. The We Day movement, with its focus on inspiring the next generation fits well with the mission of Microsoft YouthSpark to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential.
More than 350 schools in Washington State are participating in We Day, and 15,000 driven students who have launched community service projects both large and small will be invited to attend. We Day is sure to be an inspirational reward for thousands of young people in our region who have dedicated their time and energy to supporting the causes that they care about.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be on the main stage at We Day to share his thoughts on the unique opportunity that young people have to change the world. We’ll also have a YouthSpark Stage at the event where we’ll share the inspiring stories of young people in our region who volunteer for various community service efforts and, as a result, inspire their friends and families to engage in social good. We’ll also share observations and stories from our YouthSpark reporters who will be on-site all day capturing the stories of their schoolmates and friends’ involvement in this great cause.
If you or someone you know is participating in We Day this year, let us know and share your story in the comments. We’re looking forward to seeing you there to celebrate young people who are sparking change in the world.
UPDATE - 2:00 p.m. PT, March 18: A big thank you to everyone who has participated in supporting our 20 inspiring nonprofits through the Give For Youth Challenge. Due to your unprecedented response, our $100,000 in matching funds were claimed within the first hour! We want to encourage you to continue to support these great projects so we’re providing an additional $100,000 to match your donations.
The Give for Youth Challenge has reached its final stage and now it’s your turn. Working with GOOD, and thanks to nominations and voting by people across the United States we’ve found 20 inspiring nonprofits who will be featured on GiveforYouth.org and eligible for $100,000 of matching funds from Microsoft.
Give for Youth, a Microsoft YouthSpark program in partnership with GlobalGiving, is a global micro-giving marketplace focused specifically on raising funds for nonprofits that support youth causes around the world.
From providing STEM education, to inspiring change-makers, to providing art and music programs in orphanages, each one of the winning organizations provide young people with an opportunity for a better and brighter future. You can make it even brighter.
Photo courtesy Rock Paper Scissors Children’s Fund
How can you help?
Here’s a random sampling of some of the organizations that made it to the final round of the challenge:
Rock Paper Scissors Children’s Fund
Rock Paper Scissors Children’s Fund has two projects underway to help the youth of Cam Duc, Vietnam. The Fund works to offer art and music classes to poor children living in the area, including those at a local orphanage. The Fund’s goal is to provide the school’s music teacher, Tuan, with professional instruction as well as continue to provide art supplies and paper for their Dream of Art School and other community schools. Read more here on how the Fund plans to help youth living in poverty through art and creativity.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy
Through their specific Teen Grantmaking Initiative (TGI), the Center for Arab American Philanthropy “teaches high school students about community issues, grantmaking, nonprofit management, communication and community leadership.” Through this program, TGI offers grants to student groups that support education and health initiatives. The youth in the TGI program fundraise in their own neighborhoods and also learn to make important decisions surrounding social issues in their communities. Learn more here about how TGI is helping youth serve their local areas.
LIFE Humane Heroes Club
An after-school program, Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE) Humane Heroes Club teaches children about the role animals play in our lives. Their goal is “to create a generation of young people dedicated to the work of building more humane communities for animals and for all of us.” Through their after-school activities and curriculum, the organization educates children about the human-animal bond and advocates in their communities for animals in need. Learn more here about their successful humane education programs, and how they plan to further animal education for youths.
Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is hoping to improve low postsecondary education attendance rates in the Pacific Islands (PI). By raising funds to sponsor four PI students, the organization hopes they can empower these students to “engage in a dialogue with key stakeholders who shape higher education policies and programs.” As the only national scholarship nonprofit supporting PI students, APIASF hopes to support and empower the next generation of PI leaders; find out how they plan to do so here.
St. Baldrick’s Microsoft Silicon Valley event raises over $13,000 for childhood cancer research
Irish dancers, shamrock-green Guinness, and a floor covered in hair made Thursday evening a night to remember at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley HQ. More than 40 people shaved their heads for St. Baldrick’s, a nonprofit that fundraises for childhood cancer research.
“I’m doing it because when I was a kid, a close friend of mine died of cancer,” said Microsoft engineer John Wiederhirn. “It affected me very deeply, so I’ve always been strongly into this cause.”
Yvonne Ellison, one of our three female volunteers, said, “I’ve known a lot of people with cancer who either survived or didn’t. I thought, it’s not a lot for me to do this; I’m not giving up very much. That’s why I’m here.”
In total, employees across Microsoft’s Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Skype campuses raised over $13,000 during the event, with a steady stream of funds still pouring in. Those interested can contribute to the cause through the St. Baldrick’s website.
You can check out their photo and video highlights on Twitter at @MicrosoftSV.
Microsoft Silicon Valley’s Director of Corporate Citizenship Sid Espinosa, looking great!
Our youngest volunteers getting used to their new, smooth ‘dos.
Just a little hair on the floor!
It’s chilly without all that hair!
Innovate for Good Attendees from Hampton Universities Young Diplomats Program.
Young people today are making a difference all around the world – and through Microsoft YouthSpark, we are committed to helping them realize their potential. Last month, we brought together 90 aspiring changemakers to attend the first Innovate for Good weekend of 2013 in our Washington, DC Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center. Innovate for Good is a program of Microsoft YouthSpark, our company-wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the work through education, employment and entrepreneurship.
Asked about their “Wow moment” from the event, one attendee said: “It’s very encouraging to come to a place where I actually fit in. Where I’m around people who are likeminded and actually believe in social change and have the passion to do it. I’m very excited to see all of these projects come about!”
You can see more form the event in the event video below, made by our program partner TakingITGlobal.
Innovate for Good is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to spark change. The event brings together youth interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship, and provide resources and training to help take ideas and projects from concept to reality.
The events also feature inspiring leaders who encourage attendees to realize their dreams. At the DC event, Ronnie Cho, the White House Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement and President Barack Obama’s Liaison to Young Americans, spoke about the Administration’s support for innovation and entrepreneurship. Cho also emphasized the importance of efforts like Innovate for Good in providing the resources and skills to help young people solve some of the biggest challenges facing our nation.
Ronnie Cho, Associate Director for Public Engagement at the White House, provided opening remarks.
After the event, attendees become a member of the Innovate for Good online community, where they have access to specialized content and resources including Microsoft employee mentoring and funding opportunities. At the event, youth:
· Engage with thought leaders representing a variety of perspectives on today’s economic and social challenges.
· Connect to a network of innovators making a difference in business and society.
· Learn about programs and resources to help you achieve your goals.
· See cutting-edge technologies in action and gain insights on how to apply them.
Check back on Innovate for Good as it travels around the world, with its next stop in New York City!
The need and opportunity mapping exercise demonstrates that no idea is successful without outside help.
Today, we’re hosting our Charlotte YouthSpark Connections event at the Johnson C. Smith University. The event features a conversation with prominent leaders from education, government and the civic community to discuss findings from a recent study on the youth opportunity divide in Charlotte.
As part of the event, the Brookings Institution will share new Microsoft-sponsored research on the state of youth education and opportunity in the Charlotte area. The new research finds that one in four 16 to 24 year-olds in the Charlotte area are not in school and lack anything above a high school diploma. Of that group, nearly half are also unemployed. Meanwhile, many jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are vacant because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need.
With this research in mind, leaders from Microsoft, area non-profits, representatives from the local school systems, and the Mayor’s office will share ideas and provide examples about how they are addressing the unique challenges facing Charlotte area youth. In addition, the event will feature stories of area youth who have overcome the opportunity divide.
Aisha Davis a YouthSpark panelist and Johnson C. Smith University senior will share how Microsoft youth programs helped her learn real-world business and technology skills. As a result of her work, Ms. Davis has accepted a post-graduate position at Microsoft as a Technical Account Manager. Her role will include assisting companies that are using Microsoft technology to ensure they get the most out of their investments.
During today’s event, Microsoft will also provide details on its YouthSpark initiative, a three year commitment to help create 300 million opportunities for young people around the world, and take time to highlight its ongoing work in the Charlotte area.
Event panelists include:
Please view Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s video address, where he conveys his excitement about the YouthSpark program and how it will benefit Charlotte residents.
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