“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.”

– Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

 

Twelve months ago, Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft’s citizenship initiative to use their capabilities and global influence to partner with hundreds of local charities and organisations worldwide to create education and skills based training opportunities for young people.

Microsoft could acknowledge that there was a clear divide between those with access to the tools and resources to be successful and those that had very little scope for advancement beyond state schooling.

The vision behind YouthSpark is to not only to equip young people with the practical skills they need for the workplace but also empower them to go out with confidence and make an impact upon the local and global communities they are a part of.

So one year later, how have we done?

YouthSpark has initially a three year plan to reach 300 million young people in 30+ countries. Through a combination of 186 youth-serving not for profit organisations and Microsoft’s own programs such as Office 365 Education, Skype in the classroom, Partners in Learning, DigiGirlz and DreamSpark, Microsoft has created accessible technology training for 78.6 million youths.

14.9 million future innovators have been inspired through tools, mentorships and events and increased employability and entrepreneurial skills for 9.9 million young adults.

From our first year’s review we can see that we are well on our way to hitting our targets having managed to impact and create opportunities for 103 million young people globally. This includes 22.3 million in Europe. You only have to look at the reach on our impact map to realise the global effect this initiative can have. Just imagine in ten years time what this map would look like.

 

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Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs says:

“Working with our nonprofit partners around the world, we see how technology education can be a great equalizer of opportunity and employment for youth. Whether it is basic digital literacy or computer science engineering, there is a positive impact for young people of all ages and geographies when they have greater access to technology education. We are enhancing YouthSpark to provide that greater access.”

There is a wide selection of initiatives that fall under the YouthSpark programme. Many you may have heard of such as Kodu and Imagine Cup. But also many that you might not be familiar with. Why not check out the YouthSpark Hub for the full range. Perhaps there is somewhere you could get involved?

Individually we won’t overcome youth unemployment. As much as we might like we won’t be able to reach every youth and personally mentor them or be able to guide them to resources and training. But together, by working through local communities and dedicated organisations we have a much stronger chance of equipping and educating our youngest generations in all corners of the globe to give them a brighter hope for the future. It really isn’t about individuals trying to accomplish everything. But if we all work together, combine our efforts, align our vision and use the tools in our hands,
we will change the world.