Microsoft launched a massive campaign today to empower, educate, and provide opportunities for millions of young people on a global scale. As part of its campaign to be a good global citizen, Microsoft has introduced a new program called YouthSpark. The program will cooperate with businesses, governments, and nonprofits to create opportunities for young people worldwide.
In a live event hosted online today, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, talked about the initiative. Ballmer said, “Through Microsoft YouthSpark we are making a commitment to help 300 million young people around the world achieve their dreams by focusing our citizenship efforts and other company resources on connecting young people with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. We believe that working with our partners we can help empower young people to change their world, and we are committed to using our technology, talent, time and resources to do that.” Noting the global economic downturn and lack of trained workforce Brad Smith, Executive Vice President of Microsoft said, “Our next generation of citizenship will focus on the next generation of people. The global unemployment rate for workers younger than 25 is 12.7 percent, which is double the rate for the world as a whole. This is indicative of a growing opportunity divide between young people who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. We must work together to close the opportunity divide for youth and help secure the future of this generation and the future of our global economy.”
Microsoft plans to partner with nonprofits worldwide including GlobalGiving Foundation, TakingITGlobal, Telecentre.org Foundation and the International Youth Foundation, as well as regional nonprofits such as Silatech in the Middle East, The Trust for Americas in Latin America, AIESEC International in Europe, and the ASEAN Foundation in Asia. In the U.S. it plans to work with 5 charities including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement USA, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Year Up Inc. YouthSpark will offer students and teachers access to Office 365 for Education and Skype in the classroom, as well as other tools for teachers. To be honest, the programs they outlined today are so vast, it is truly hard to take it all in. On top of all the previous things mentioned, YouthSpark will also be offering the following:
• Partners in Learning. A professional development program for government officials, school leaders and educators to help them with new approaches to teaching and learning, using technology to help students develop 21st century skills.
• Microsoft IT Academy. A career-ready education program available to all accredited academic institutions, providing students with 21st century technology.
• DreamSpark. Free access to Microsoft designer and developer tools for students and educators, helping advance key technical skills during the high school and college years, a critical time in a student’s development.
• Imagine Cup. The world’s premier youth technology competition, which challenges students to apply their knowledge and passion to develop technical solutions for social impact, to develop engaging games, and to demonstrate innovation that can benefit others, local communities and the world.
• Students to Business. A program that matches university students with jobs or internships in the technology industry.
• BizSpark. A software startup program, providing young entrepreneurs with access to Microsoft software development tools and connections with key industry players, including investors, to help them start a new business.
Microsoft is also focusing on other citizenship efforts. Here are 3 initiatives they outlined in their press release today:
• Give for Youth, a global microgiving marketplace focused on raising funds for nonprofits that support youth causes around the world.
• Microsoft YouthSpark Hub, an online space where people can explore and access all the youth services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and its nonprofit partners.
• Microsoft Innovate for Good, a global online community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support one another while using technology to make a difference in their communities.
Microsoft has definitely taken on a huge undertaking with these programs. Hopefully, word will spread and those who could benefit the most from this program will find the resource best suited for them. If you or someone you know would like more information, visit Microsoft’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/youthspark/.