Microsoft YouthSpark Grants to Encourage Youth to Do Great Things

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 20, 2012 — As part of the launch of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft announced national partnerships with five major nonprofit organizations with missions to give youth the skills, education and job training they need to succeed: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement USA (JA), Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and Year Up.

On the surface, the nonprofit grants aim to bolster programs that help youth learn important 21st-century skills, find jobs and connect with caring adult mentors.

However, scratch beneath the surface, and there are thousands of stories of real young people who have been impacted by these programs, gotten off the streets, found their dream jobs or been inspired to further their education. These stories include teenage moms who have gained the skills to support their children, underperforming youth who understood math for the first time, young entrepreneurs who have created their own innovative businesses and many more.

As part of the YouthSpark announcement, the organizations shared their plans for how they will use the funding, as well as some real stories of challenge and success. Check out those stories below.

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America assures success is within reach of every child who enters its doors, with its 4 million youth served annually on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle. The organization is transforming the next generation of citizens, leaders and workers and will use Microsoft’s funding to create the Great Futures Challenge, inspiring teens to create projects that propose solutions to business or societal problems.

  • City Year unites teams of diverse young adults who serve full time in schools for 10 months to help struggling students succeed. Corps members work with students to improve student attendance, behavior and course performance. Using the funding, City Year will enhance its Math Capacity Partnerships and further invest in the Diplomas Now turnaround collaborative to build curriculum and intervention tools, and encourage academic success and higher graduation rates.

  • Year Up provides urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potentials. The high-support, high-expectation program combines marketing job skills, stipends, internships and college credit, which help to place these young adults on a viable path to self-sufficiency. Microsoft’s support will help the organization expand its operations in seven cities, projecting an increase in the number of students it serves by 20 percent in the first year.

  • NFTE inspires young people from low-income communities to stay in school through entrepreneurship curricula offered in middle and high schools. The collaboration with Microsoft will include continued sponsorship of The World Series of Innovation, in which students invent products or services to meet innovation challenges. It will also fund NFTE Math in Schools, a curriculum that helps students master math principles. Microsoft’s efforts will also support the Digital Classroom, which connects NFTE volunteers and classrooms across regions. Finally, the NFTE Next Generation Tech Challenge, a technology, entrepreneurship and mentorship program for at-risk high school students in New York, will also be supported by Microsoft.

  • JA is dedicated to educating students in grades K–12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. The partnership will support the JA Job Shadow program, which will bring students into Microsoft Retail Stores to learn firsthand about careers in the technology field.

These nonprofit organizations already change young people’s lives every day. Now, with support from Microsoft, they can do even more to address the challenges facing youth.

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