Creating opportunities for 300 million young people in the next 3 years
Today we are announcing Microsoft YouthSpark
, a new company-wide initiative designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth in 100 countries over the next three years.
We’re launching this initiative because we’re seeing the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people: a gap between those who are prospering and others who are struggling because they lack the education, skills and opportunities they need to succeed. The evidence is clear. We have more young people on the planet than ever before, but they are experiencing a rate of unemployment that is double that of the rest of the population - in some countries youth unemployment has reached 50 percent.
And, while there are new industries and jobs being created around the world, our existing approach to educating and training young people isn’t keeping pace. It’s estimated that more than 100 million young people lack access to education and only 44 percent of youth worldwide have the chance to attend secondary school. Beyond the obvious macro-economic implications, this is becoming a personal crisis for a growing number of young people around the world. They are being left behind.
As we looked at how our Citizenship work could have the greatest impact, it became apparent that we must help close this opportunity divide facing young people - giving them access to the skills and opportunities to be successful was one of the most important actions we could take. It’s something that won’t just benefit young people, it will benefit everyone.
We have listened to and learned from many others who have dedicated themselves to addressing the issues facing youth today. Based on those insights and our own experience working in communities around the world, we believe there are three core areas where we can have a major impact on reducing the divide:
• Empower youth by helping transform education and expand digital inclusion;
• Unleash future innovators by giving youth the inspiration and tools to imagine new opportunities;
• Help youth realize new opportunities of employability and entrepreneurship.
At Microsoft we pride ourselves on taking on big challenges. Helping young people globally to get a great education, find work or start their own business fits the bill. This marks a new focus for our philanthropy efforts. Moving forward, we are committing the vast majority of our corporate cash giving to support nonprofit organizations that serve youth, and we’ve developed a range of new youth-focused Citizenship initiatives, including:
• Give For Youth
: a global micro-giving marketplace focused specifically on raising funds for nonprofits that support youth causes around the world;
• Microsoft YouthSpark Hub
: an online space where young people can explore and access all of the services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and select nonprofit partners for education, skills, employment and entrepreneurship;
• Innovate For Good
: a global online community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities.
We know we can have the biggest impact when we bring our products, services and partnerships to bear on tackling an issue. Therefore, Microsoft YouthSpark goes beyond philanthropy. We’re mobilizing our company, bringing together a range of existing global Microsoft programs focused on young people: from Partners in Learning
, which provides professional development to help educators with new approaches to teaching and learning, to Skype in the Classroom a free, global community for teachers to connect their students with other students and guest speakers from around the world.
Make no mistake: this is a complex, large-scale problem that requires brave, long-term, cross-sector investment and partnership. We’re honored to work with so many partners in the nonprofit community, industry and government to close the opportunity divide for youth. Together, we believe we can empower young people to imagine and realize their full potential. Together, we can empower them to change their world.