Scholarship Program Challenges High-School Students to Make a Difference

REDMOND, Wash., March 14, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today launched its second annual You Can Make a Difference scholarship program, which challenges secondary school students around the world to design technology-based projects to benefit charitable organizations. Previously available only to students from the United States and Canada, the program has been expanded this year to include high-school and secondary-school students around the world.

The You Can Make a Difference scholarship will award a total of $50,000 (U.S.) in grants to 10 students — five male and five female — who create the best proposal for a software project designed to benefit a charitable organization. Winners will receive a personal scholarship of $2,500, as well as a budget of up to $1,500 to implement the proposed project. A $1,000 technology grant also will be awarded to each winning student’s school. In addition, the 10 finalists will be paired with a mentor from Microsoft to help them implement their project. Each student who submits a proposal will receive a free copy of Microsoft’s award-winning Visual Studio®
.NET 2003 Academic development tool.

“You Can Make a Difference is a fantastic program that encourages students to use their technological skills to make a positive impact on society. We’re very grateful to be a part of this wonderful opportunity,” said Karen Blevins, a teacher at Grayson County Career & Technical Education Center, whose student Justin Bevins won one of the 10 scholarships last year with his idea to create a database for an annual auction benefiting the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Being in a small rural county, we feel fortunate to be the recipients of Microsoft’s generous support, and it was really a treat for us to work with an industry leader like Microsoft.”

Entry proposals in English can be submitted starting today via theSpoke.net, Microsoft’s online community for technology students, at http://www.thespoke.net/ycmd . The deadline for entries is April 30. Students can submit their materials in Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian or Spanish by visiting one of the localized versions of theSpoke. Judging will occur May 1–15, and winners will be announced in mid- to late May. Winners will have three months from the date of the announcement to develop and deploy their project for the selected charity, with guidance from volunteer Microsoft developers. Detailed application information, program details, and rules and conditions are available at http://www.thespoke.net/ycmd , including a sample proposal and recommended development tools. Questions about the program should be sent to ycmd@thespoke.net .

Microsoft also sponsors the Imagine Cup, an annual student technology competition that, like You Can Make a Difference, provides an outlet for both high-school and college students from around the world to explore technological and artistic interests outside the classroom. Imagine Cup contestants are invited to compete in nine invitational categories, including software design, Web development, information technology, visual gaming, and short film creation. This year’s Imagine Cup worldwide finals will take place in Yokohama, Japan, July 27–Aug. 1. More information about the Imagine Cup can be found at http://www.imaginecup.com .

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