Name of Foundation: Microsoft Corporate Citizenship
Location: Seattle, Washington
YouthSpark Contact: YouthSpark Hub
Coverage Area: National and Global
Subject Area: Children and youth funding for developing technical and business skills, funding for technical upgrades and development of services for child welfare organizations.
Total Giving in 2014: $119 million in cash and $949 million in-kind, total of $1.1 billion
In a Nutshell:
In 2014, Microsoft’s total annual giving was the highest it has ever been, surpassing $1 billion for the first time. The Microsoft YouthSpark Initiative has set a goal of positively impacting the lives of 300 million youth over three years. As of 2014, the company reports that they have created opportunities for 227 million youth, so they are on track to well surpass the goal of 300 million.
Microsoft’s YouthSpark program was founded by Shelly Stern Grach. Grach has been at the forefront of Microsoft’s civic grantmaking throughout the U.S., and has been instrumental in many big Microsoft grants and initiatives in Chicago. She is also very connected to programs on the ground and currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. Earlier in her career, Grach led development of Microsoft’s Tech Soup program. Like the YouthSpark program, Tech Soup donates technology and software to nonprofits and public libraries.
The goal of YouthSpark is to help young people, particularly those facing disadvantage, to learn skills, prepare for the jobs of the future, and/or become entrepreneurs. Microsoft YouthSpark contributes to several hundred youth-serving nonprofit organizations globally, providing more than 30 Microsoft programs, products, and services. YouthSpark programs are happening all over the country. To get a sense of the diverse array of work going on through YouthSpark, visit Microsoft’s YouthSpark hub.
In developing Microsoft YouthSpark, the company consulted with government, nonprofit, and business leaders globally to better understand the challenges young people face. Microsoft discovered a need to go beyond addressing the “digital divide” and become more holistic in bridging the gap between those who have access to education and opportunity, and those who do not.
YouthSpark offers nonprofits a wide variety of opportunities for grants including help with running summer camps, or funds and products for developing a host of other technical training services for youth. Just one example: A new program called DigiGirlz helps high school girls learn about technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in technical skills training workshops.
Also important to know about is Microsoft’s giving for youth in the child welfare system: they recently gave $7.3 million to the Children’s Home Society of Florida for the purpose of developing system upgrades for child welfare, and to build a training and skills platform for children involved with child welfare through foster care and juvenile justice.
The important thing to remember about Microsoft is that, whatever your plan is to help kids, the involvement of technology in some way should probably be featured. This does not necessarily limit you; remember that arts programs, therapy healing programs, and any kind of skills development program can involve technology. Also, if you look at the bulk of their giving, it takes the form of in-kind software and other technical donations, so being able to integrate this kind of assistance into your grant request will be a good way to leverage the opportunity.
Application and eligibility:
For more information about eligibility for a non-profit grant and about YouthSpark grants, click here.
To apply for a software donation and for more information, click here.
Shelley Stern Grach — founder of YouthSpark, Director of Civic Engagement for Microsoft
Maile Martinez — YouthSpark Engagement Coordinator for Microsoft
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