Microsoft YouthSpark

Empower youth to change their world

YouthSpark: Empower young people to change their world.

Microsoft YouthSpark: 2013 Request for Proposal


Young people in Canada are facing an opportunity divide – a gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. While some young people are prospering, those on the other side of this divide lack the skills, education, experiences and connections to employment that are required to survive and thrive. Closing this opportunity divide is one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and as a result, the future of our global economy.

So how can we help close the opportunity divide? We believe there are three core areas that 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.

Microsoft YouthSpark Request for Proposals (RFP)

Through a competitive funding process, Microsoft Canada will award cash and software grants to eligible CRA-registered nonprofit and charitable organizations. Microsoft Canada seeks to fund partnerships targeting youth (ages 13-25) to help expand their opportunity to pursue jobs/career, continue their education and training and/or start a business or social venture.

Microsoft Canada will also bring together cross-company resources to selected organizations working to prepare young people with the tools and resources they need to find or create opportunity for themselves. In addition to cash grant investments, as part of these partnerships, Microsoft Canada will bring opportunities for connection from across the company which may include: Technology for Good resources, employee engagement opportunities, online learning curriculum, engagement with product launches, retail store programs, participation in Give for Youth, featured content on Microsoft’s Local Impact Map and connection to a global online youth community.

This is a two-year commitment from Microsoft.

  • Year 1: Through a competitive RFP process, this initiative will fund grantees with demonstrated expertise in innovative approaches to connecting youth to opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.
  • Year 2: Grants may be extended for a second year subject to a review and successful completion of Year 1 program metrics and goals.

Eligibility criteria

All proposals must include an organization that is eligible to receive cash funding from Microsoft as defined by the following criteria:

  1. Hold recognized, charitable status as defined by Canada Revenue Agency.
  2. Align with Microsoft Canada YouthSpark priorities (i.e. support nonprofit organizations that serve youth by providing them with enhanced technology and business training to help them pursue additional education, obtain employment or start a new business or social venture).
  3. Operate projects or programs that take place in communities where Microsoft Canada has a business presence.
  4. Deliver programs with measurable social impact, targeting youth (ages 13-25) to help expand their opportunity to pursue jobs/career, continue their education and training and/or start a business or social venture.
  5. Organizations may request between $50,000 and $150,000 cash, not to exceed 50 percent of the program’s total cash budget. Additionally, software and curriculum can be requested as part of this process. The grant request should be commensurate with the proposed program design and scale.

Programmatic expectations

In addition to partnering on programs that provide opportunity for youth, please review the programmatic expectations from Microsoft Canada that a nonprofit partner will be expected to support and participate in, including, but not limited to:

  • Preference will be given to organizations with broad reach and impact
  • Recognizing Microsoft Canada as a partner and sponsor for the organization’s youth initiatives
  • Partnering with local Microsoft Canada staff and providing connections to the organization’s local staff and projects for overall program implementation
  • Ongoing participation with Give for Youth, Microsoft’s new youth micro-giving platform
  • Ongoing participation of the org’s youth program participants and staff involved in local Innovate4Good (I4G) days and other local Microsoft Canada programs and events
  • Cash funding can be requested for support of programs, including staff expenses
  • Please note: funding cannot be used for operational expenses such as rent and utilities or the purchase of hardware, scholarships, stipends or furniture

Reporting & metrics

Please describe how you currently measure your program’s success and how you intend to capture and report impact resulting from these cash investments and related activities. Selected grantees will be expected to support and participate in specific reporting and metric programs and communication evaluation efforts on a quarterly basis.

Measurement and evaluation of programs for real impact will be essential and a focus area of our work together. We look forward to hearing responses about how organizations plan to do this, what existing measurement and evaluation resources are already in place, and how you propose to measure the impact of the Opportunity for Youth Initiative programs in the near future, mid- and long-term.

Communications & marketing efforts

We see communications as a critical piece of the partnership that will help provide our efforts with recognition, credibility and reach. Together, we will develop an integrated communications framework (to provide outreach via marketing, PR, Web, social media, etc.) that will increase awareness of the program, as well as amplify its impact and effect through online, social and other communication channels. We will focus on telling the story of our program’s positive effect on individuals. Proposals should provide a special focus on communication efforts using a variety of methods and assets. Selected partners should expect to engage in these integrated communications efforts ongoing as part of the partnership including, but not limited to:

  • Recognize Microsoft Canada as a corporate partner on your organization’s website, social media properties, newsletters and other constituent communications
  • Develop content for Microsoft Canada Success Stories 2x a year
  • Provide content and access to youth for digital storytelling (video, photos, etc.)
  • Provide one (1) youth impact story highlighting how youth-serving programs have impacted your beneficiaries, with access to youth for digital storytelling as noted above. Content to be highlighted on Microsoft’s Local Impact Map

RFP Timeline

  • Monday, July 22, 2013 – RFP available
  • Friday, August 23, 2013 – RFP responses due to Microsoft by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Fall 2013 – Approved grants to be awarded

RFP Requirements

RFP responses are due to Microsoft by no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, August 23, 2013 and should be submitted using the process outlined below.

STEP 1: Review RFP requirements
Organizations are required to review this Request for Proposals and requirements prior to proceeding to the next step in the process.

STEP 2: Complete Eligibility Questions
Please include answers to the following questions in a 3-5 page proposal that outlines your best thinking on how your organization could align successful youth efforts, keeping technology top of mind, with our funding and cross-company resources to impact thousands of youth in Canada.

  1. What is the purpose and goals of the proposed youth project?
  2. Share how you plan to track progress toward your goal.
  3. Describe how Microsoft’s donation will be used toward your goal.
  4. How many youth do you anticipate will continue education or training, obtain a job, or start a social/entrepreneurial venture from your program?
  5. How will the program be promoted within your community?
  6. Please provide a brief overview of a proposed budget for your program. NOTE: Requests for funding must include a cash project budget with diverse sources of revenue for program activities in addition to Microsoft Canada.

STEP 3: Submit RFP to Microsoft Canada.
Please email all proposals or direct questions to:

Download PDF version of RFP here.

Our Mission

To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This drives our business and guides our Corporate Citizenship work.

We are committed to serving communities and working responsibly. Through our partnerships, our technology innovations, our people and our resources we are proud to help solve societal challenges and create economic opportunities on both a global and a local scale.

Girls do science

7 out of 10 girls are interested in science. Only 2 out of 10 will pursue it as a career. Let’s change that. Microsoft supports the bright young women who participated in this project and all girls who share our belief in the empowering nature of science and technology.

Watch the video
Matching Opportunities

Matching Opportunities

There is a growing divide between young people who have access to skills and opportunities and those who don’t. Microsoft is addressing the divide with Microsoft YouthSpark.

Watch the video
Opportunity for Youth

Opportunity for Youth

Around the globe, technology is changing what youth need to know to succeed in nearly any occupation. Microsoft YouthSpark provides the technology, resources and expertise that young people need to imagine and realize their dreams.

Watch the video