Editor’s Note: We recently announced Microsoft YouthSpark a new company wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people. A key part of YouthSpark is the work we are doing with nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people access education, employment and entrepreneurship. Globally, our nonprofit cash grant recipients have been carefully selected with a focus on these specific outcomes. In the United States we’ll be focusing the majority of our nonprofit cash grants on five national nonprofit partners Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement, NFTE and Year Up. We wanted to share how they will be working as part of YouthSpark and today Jim Clark, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America shares his perspective.
By Jim Clark, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than a decade, Microsoft and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) have partnered to provide kids at some 4,000 Clubs across the country with access to computers, software and technology programs. As we enter our second decade of partnership, we’ll continue to help Club young people develop skills to succeed in the 21st century.
Microsoft and BGCA understand our nation’s future rests on young people’s readiness to compete in a global economy. But for too many teens, there’s no place to turn for basic resources to help them develop critical thinking skills and expand their worldview.
Together, we are committed to closing the “opportunity divide” and fulfilling BGCA’s mission to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Jim Clark shares his membership card with teen members during a visit to a local Boys & Girls Club
We’re excited to launch the latest extension of the partnership and issue the “Great Futures Challenge” to our Club teens. The Challenge will educate and motivate Club teens to think beyond the everyday world and determine their future role in the global society. It will engage them to conceive and develop projects that provide a solution to societal or business problems. For example, one group of Boys & Girls Club teens is launching a small business initiative to make and sell T-shirts to raise money for college visits, field trips and youth leadership forums. The project is teaching the teens about innovation, sales and tenets of operating a small business. It’s also helping the Club members be productive during out-of-school time while gaining skills and resources that will benefit them for years to come.
We will challenge teens to seize their opportunity in the world – whether they aspire to higher education, to start a career or to generate social good. Teens will emerge inspired. They will understand how to combine technology with social entrepreneurship to be agents for positive change. This will lead them to a deeper understanding of their world, enhance skills critical for success, and prepare them for their next steps to a great future.
The positive outcomes driven by our partnership will play an important role to support BGCA’s strategic plan, which includes an intense focus on technology. We know the critical role technology plays to provide youth with the skills they need to succeed. As such, BGCA is intensifying technology capabilities and initiatives to enhance and increase the impact Clubs have on the youth they serve. And the initiative adds a dynamic new program for teens, helping to attract new members as well as retain existing members in the Club Experience. Keeping teens engaged in a positive, healthy, supportive environment is critical to guiding them on the path to a great future.
BGCA is well-positioned to serve more young people with greater impact and to engage
them to achieve greater outcomes in their own lives and as citizens of the world. With support from Microsoft, we will do great things together to create, innovate and support the next generation of youth leaders.