The YouthSpark grant aims to close the Computer Science education skills gap for youths in local communities
KUALA LUMPUR, 22 April 2016 — Microsoft Philanthropies on Wednesday announced grants for over 100 nonprofit organizations in 55 countries, including Malaysia’s Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG) – a foundation committed to building a strong nation by investing in the lives of children, youth and families. The grants are a component of the US$75 million commitment Microsoft made to increase access to computer science education around the world through Microsoft YouthSpark, as announced by Satya Nadella last year.
Microsoft is partnering with these nonprofits by providing cash grants, content and other resources they need to bring computational thinking and problem-solving skills to young people in local communities, important building blocks to help them succeed in today’s tech-fueled economy.
The US$65,000 grant that Microsoft Philanthropies made to GG will equip youths from underserved communities and schools with essential technological skills to improve employability. The program under the Microsoft YouthSpark grant, titled NextGen XLR8, also aims to groom youths to be responsible netizens. This mentoring program allows these individuals to gain a competitive edge in today’s workforce.
Teri Choong, Head of Strategic Alliances at GG also said that the Microsoft YouthSpark partnership and grants will help the Foundation reach over 1,200 youths across urban Malaysia and into the far interiors of East Malaysia.
“Beyond the numbers, our NextGen XLR8 program is uniquely designed to help youths acquire and learn Microsoft software skills. With this, we are able to cultivate positive values in these individuals – infusing teachings of responsibility and accountability – while they learn other skills, which will help them improve employability, such as presentation skills and financial literacy. They’ll be able to do all this with the use of Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It is evident that Microsoft Office has proven to change the perception of youths and their future endeavors. We are thankful that Microsoft has confidence in our approach and together, we are able to create a deeper social impact change, one child at a time,” said Choong.
Data available in Malaysia underscores the need for greater access to computer science education. According to the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation, Malaysia recorded about 85,000 science and technology graduates in 2015 – but at least 500,000 are needed by 2020 for the country to achieve developed nation status.
Jasmine Begum, Director, Corporate External & Legal Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and Emerging Markets said, “Empowerment begins with inclusion, and Microsoft believes that no one should be left behind in their quest to reach their fullest potential. Through grants such as YouthSpark, we aim to provide non-profit partners such as Generasi Gemilang with the tools and resources they need to empower youths – especially among the girls and women – in our local communities. Ultimately, we hope that this grant will benefit particularly those who have no access to basic computer science education.”
Closing the computer science skills gap and reaching youths on a global scale is a multi-faceted challenge that cannot be solved by one organization or solution alone. Microsoft’s partnerships with nonprofit organizations mean that more young people around the world—particularly underserved communities, girls and ethnic and racially diverse populations—will have access to computer science education, helping build skills critical for future success.
“Along with this support provided to Generasi Gemilang, we remain fully committed to ensure that all communities have access to these critical skills in line with the nation’s efforts in fulfilling a vision of a highly skilled workforce by the year 2020,” added Jasmine.