Since its inception, Microsoft Corp. has believed in the power of technology to enable individuals and communities to realize their full potential. Using technology as a catalyst, Microsoft connects people with common goals to create worldwide networks through which key education leaders and innovators share experiences, ideas and approaches that can be applied around the world. Microsoft and its partners also share expertise with local governments, industries and educators, providing the tools and opportunities required to stimulate local software economies and equip citizens for success in the 21st century.
In 2003, Microsoft launched Partners in Learning, a global initiative designed to increase technology access for schools, foster new approaches to teaching and learning, and provide education leaders with the proper tools to create and influence change. To date, Partners in Learning programs have reached more than 80,000 teachers and 3 million students in the United States. Building on these efforts, in January 2008 Microsoft renewed its commitment to Partners in Learning, extending the company’s global investment to nearly $500 million over 10 years.
Examples of Partners in Learning in the United States include the following:
Philadelphia, School of the Future: As part of its Partners in Learning vision, Microsoft and the School District of Philadelphia joined forces to create a 750-student high school that embodies innovation and technology. The School of the Future opened in September 2006 with the goal of creating a technology-based educational model that can be replicated in communities around the globe. The School of the Future is rooted in the vision of an empowered community where learning is continuous, relevant and adaptive.
State Innovation Partnerships: Microsoft’s Partners in Learning has established five-year public/private partnerships with specific states to identify and support innovative solutions that advance 21st-century teaching and learning. Projects include these:
Florida: Sunshine Connections. The Florida Department of Education and Microsoft launched this collaborative online environment that enables teachers to link to student data, material about curricula, and document management and collaboration tools.
Michigan: CareerForward. This year more than 17,000 Michigan students are participating in this online program, created by the Michigan Department of Education and Microsoft, that helps schools and students meet the state’s online learning requirement for high school graduation.
New Mexico: Seven Career Clusters. New Mexico and Microsoft are working to vitalize rural economic opportunities throughout the state, taking a proactive approach to preparing students for jobs that are native to and align with seven New Mexico career clusters.
Pennsylvania: Building capacity for the future. Microsoft’s partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania builds on a statewide high school reform initiative to help prepare students for post-secondary education success.
Virginia: Partnership for Leaders in Education. Microsoft entered the University of Virginia’s partnership to increase support for those charged with turning around consistently low-performing schools.
Washington: Learning Transformed. Cheney High School math students have seen an average gain of 7.5 points on their test scores thanks to this math lab. Learning Transformed — the result of a partnership between the school district, Eastern Washington University and Microsoft — identifies and implements strategies to change traditional “one size fits all” classrooms.
DigiGirlz Programs: Microsoft’s DigiGirlz programs provide free opportunities for high school girls to learn about careers in technology, talk with Microsoft employees about their life experiences, and enjoy hands-on computer and technology workshops:
DigiGirlz Day: A one day experience designed to provide girls with a better understanding of what a career in technology is all about. In 2008 DigiGirlz Days take place in March and April in 15 U.S. Microsoft locations and three international locations. Since DigiGirlz Days began in 2005, approximately 4,000 students have participated.
DigiGirlz High Tech Camp: This multiday experience for high school girls is designed to give them an in-depth look at Microsoft careers and hands-on experience with technology. Started in 2000, the camps are now offered at eight Microsoft U.S. locations and one international location. When the 2008 summer camps come to a close, more than 1,000 students will have participated. Each year, approximately 16 percent of Microsoft’s Redmond-based high school interns are previous DigiGirlz.
Microsoft Research: One of the largest, fastest-growing and most highly respected software research organizations in the world, Microsoft Research is a unique entity among corporate research labs, balancing an open academic model with an effective process for transferring its research to product development teams. Following are some important facts about Microsoft Research:
Imagine Cup: Through the Imagine Cup, a global technology contest in which more than 100,000 students participated in 2007, Microsoft encourages bright young people to use the magic of software to solve the world’s toughest problems. They apply their imagination, passion and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference today. The Imagine Cup illustrates Microsoft’s continued commitment to inspiring the next generation of technology, business and entrepreneurial leaders to innovate and stimulate economies around the world.
Microsoft DreamSpark: Through this program Microsoft provides its valuable software developer and designer tools directly to university students worldwide at no cost. Students can download professional-level Microsoft software that help set them on the path to academic and career success by supporting and advancing learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. DreamSpark will be made available to high school students in the fall of 2008.
Microsoft is making significant investments in U.S. work-force readiness, working in partnership with federal, state and local governments; nonprofit groups; schools, colleges and universities; and community-based organizations. As the world’s largest software company, Microsoft is well-positioned to help address the shortage of U.S. workers with strong technology skills. In collaboration with its partners, the company has:
Created a series of proven digital-skills training programs, with curricula, certification and testing procedures that can be adapted by governments and nonprofit organizations.
Developed and funded a grant programs that help support independent work-force development initiatives.
Created policy and programs to ensure that by 2010, every young person, every job seeker, every displaced worker and every individual in the U.S. work force who wants a basic level of technology and computing skills will have access to the education and training they need to succeed in this technology-driven economy.
Key work-force development initiatives include the following:
To help provide basic technology skills and job training in underserved communities, the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program provides cash, curriculum, volunteers’ time and software for community technology centers (CTCs) around the world. The people served by these CTCs include seniors who want to stay employed or return to the work force, at-risk youth, people left jobless because of changes in the economy, refugees and other displaced or homeless people, and many other nontraditional learners. Since the program began in 2003, Microsoft has invested $85 million in cash, software, training curricula and technical support to more than 4,500 CTCs in the U.S.
Microsoft is working with universities and high schools to host Technology Trends events to expose students to the wide variety of technology career possibilities. This year, more than 14,000 students have heard featured speakers from Microsoft and their local software economy talk about the critical role technology plays in business and the value of recruiting individuals with technology fluency.
The Microsoft Students to Business (S2B) program helps companies connect with and hire talented university or post-graduate students for jobs or internships in the technology industry by matching qualified candidates with open positions. Microsoft is hoping to match 15,000 students to partner internships or jobs and train more than 100,000 students worldwide this year.
Microsoft formed a two-year alliance with the U.S. Department of Labor to help increase the digital literacy skills of the U.S. work force. Microsoft is providing $3.5 million in cash and software, plus Microsoft Unlimited Potential and the Digital Literacy training curricula, to more than 50 One-Stop Career Centers in 11 states.
Microsoft has developed a Digital Literacy curriculum — available at no cost to eligible educational institutions, and government and nongovernmental organizations — that provides a foundation of basic computer skills for learners with little or no previous computing experience.
A partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America has strengthened technology access and skills for club members and staff through the creation of Club Tech. Microsoft has invested more than $150 million in cash and software to more than 3,700 clubs across the country, transforming the club experience for 5 million young people.