Igniting “sparks” of opportunity for youth

From day one, a child’s potential is a gift waiting to be realized. Consider the magic of fire and how it is only a promise until someone lights a wick, igniting a dazzling chemical response.  At Microsoft, we view our youth's potential with a similar perspective and are doing something to light that fire. Today, we introduce Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide commitment to creating opportunities for 300 million youth in 100 countries over the next three years.   

We’re committing the vast majority of our philanthropic resources behind young people – our future leaders, innovators and social champions – because so many are at risk of never reaching their potential. Young people in Atlanta, across the U.S. and around the globe face an opportunity divide – a gap between those who have access to skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.

YouthSpark is fueled by Microsoft’s collaboration with governments, nonprofits, and businesses, all rallying around an imperative to connect our youth with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship.  In the U.S., Microsoft is partnering with five nonprofits, including, Atlanta-based Boys and Girls Club of America, in addition to City Year, NFTE, Year Up and Junior Achievement.

 YouthSpark features numerous exciting resources and programs for our youth, including:

• 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.

We know that every child is a success waiting to happen, but too many have to wait for chances to gain the skills necessary to close this gap – and there isn’t time to spare. While the national unemployment rate is more than 8%, the figure for Americans aged 16 to 24 is more than double at 16.5%. We need to give our youth access to the skills they need to cross the opportunity divide, find employment or start their own businesses, today.

Keep coming back to learn more about the programs we’re rolling out to light sparks of education, business inspiration and community  motivation within our youth. Recently, Georgia’s State School Superintendent announced the partnership with the Microsoft IT Academy to provide equal access to technology training and certification to every high school student in Georgia. Georgia is the sixth state in the U.S. to broadly roll out this program.

Moved to learn more, right away? Learn about the entire YouthSpark initiative here.

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