Microsoft rallies the community to bridge opportunity divides through technology at We Tech Care 2016

 |   Singapore News Center

Held in support of President’s Challenge, We Tech Care 2016 was attended by over 600 volunteers and members of the public and featured an array of technology-related activities, including coding workshops, assistive technology demonstrations, IT workshops and games

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (fifth from left, back row), Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD (seated, right) with Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship recipients and Microsoft executives.

Singapore, 10 December 2016 – Microsoft Singapore reinforced their commitment to the President’s Challenge and a more inclusive Singapore with another instalment of the company’s flagship philanthropy event. Today’s We Tech Care was graced by guest-of-honour Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and saw over 200 volunteers including non-profit organisations, start-ups, business partners and Microsoft employees, gather to showcase how technology can bridge opportunity divides for an inclusive Singapore.

We Tech Care was hosted at the Enabling Village, an inclusive community space of individuals and organisations that serve and are supported by people with diverse abilities. The event featured a range of workshops to help youths pick up skills to create and build with technologies; talks to help professionals understand new technologies and safeguard their online identities; demonstrations on how assistive technologies can help people with disabilities to do more; as well as a showcase on how some start-ups are leveraging technology to help address societal issues (See Annex A).

“The Enabling Village, an initiative by SG Enable, is proud to support We Tech Care, which is a confluence of like-minded individuals and organisations coming together, to empower people and organisations in building an inclusive society through awareness and adoption of innovative technologies,” said Ms Ku Geok Boon, Chief Executive Officer, SG Enable.

“We Tech Care 2016 is a great example of how technology companies like Microsoft can lead the way in rallying people from all walks of lives to make a real and lasting impact in our local communities. We believe that technology can empower every person and organisation to achieve more and by contributing what we do best, we are heartened to see that over 2,200 people with disabilities have been equipped with practical IT skills in partnership with SPD. Moving forward, we hope to help more non-profit organisations in Singapore harness the power of technology through our Microsoft Philanthropies software donation programme, and collectively foster a smarter and more inclusive Singapore for everyone,” said Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore.

Presentation of cheque to SPD by Alberto Granados, Jessica Tan, and Noel Murray of Microsoft in presence of the DPM Shanmugaratnam.

Over S$154,000 was raised through We Tech Care, and will go towards supporting President’s Challenge beneficiary SPD, a disability organisation, to empower people with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest potential. Specifically, the contribution will support the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship to allow youths with disabilities to pursue tertiary education in information technology related fields, as well as vocational IT skills training that will improve the employability of SPDs beneficiaries. Through these programmes, 32 scholarships have been awards to 29 students, and over 68 persons with disabilities have been trained and 30 have since found employment.

“Technology empowers people with disabilities and unlocks their potential.  Microsoft’s donation will go towards supporting students with disabilities pursuing a tertiary education in information technology, and providing vocational and work skills training to help increase the employability of people with disabilities. We are grateful that Microsoft shares SPD’s vision that people with disabilities should be integrated into mainstream society, and for the continued support,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD.

Since 2011, Microsoft has donated USD 6 million worth of software to over 280 non-profit organisations in Singapore to help them better deliver on their mission. While close to USD 1 million of mostly cloud services have been donated this year, we hope that we can put the Microsoft Cloud to work for public good by reaching more of the 2,200 non-profit organisations registered in Singapore to help them achieve more with less, and create a greater and lasting impact in their communities. As part of We Tech Care, a Tech4Good workshop was conducted by Microsoft volunteers and business partners and attended by over 70 non-profit organisations – many who have not leveraged software donation programmes to realise the potential of technology.

Showcasing the latest apps and technologies for people with different abilities developed are start-ups and non-profits are AiTreat, DataKind, Jaga-Me, and Miao Academy and NephTech. “We Tech Care has been a great opportunity for DataKind Singapore to meet with non-profits who are curious and eager to use technology to multiply their impact. In addition, Microsoft Philanthropy’s Azure donation to non-profits will allow us to accelerate collaborations on data project with these new partners,” said Mr Oliver Chen, Chapter Lead, DataKind Singapore.

Visitors at We Tech Care can also take their first step towards active volunteering by learning more about non-profits, including AWWA, Fei Yue Community Services, SPD and Student Care Services. “We hope to leverage on this digital literacy and coding programme to help pique the interest of our at-risk youth to create a possible avenue for them to spend their time meaningfully and to learn a new skill to increase their skill set for the future when they explore their careers. Teaming with Microsoft allows us to learn from an industry leader and definitely value adds to the youth’s experience,” said Mr Joel Neo, Head of New Media, Fei Yue Community Services.

Certificates of appreciation were also presented to generous sponsors who have contributed to We Tech Care including: Silver Sponsors – Alfa Connections, and T-Systems Asia South; and Bronze Sponsors – Avanade Asia, Challenger Technologies, Dimension Data Singapore, Innocom Technologies, ModusLink, and Total eBiz Solutions. Other sponsors include Datapulse, as well as Embrya and llaollao who have provided in-kind contributions.


Annex A: Programme Highlights of We Tech Care 

  • Tech4Good Workshops organised by Microsoft in partnership with TechSoup, to help charity organisations learn how to achieve more with less, by utilising emerging technologies to help communities, and access new technology through the Microsoft Philanthropies’ software donation programme and resources.
  • Assistive Technology Demonstrations such as live demonstrations of the new Hearing AI app, developed by Microsoft to help the hearing-impaired community visualise sound and recognise potentially dangerous situations using technology. In addition, Listen Simulations helmed by ETCH Empathy immersed participants in world without sound and served as a platform for participants to connect with deaf volunteers.
  • Coding Workshops for children and teenagers to pick up coding skills, and learn to create and build with technology at the Minecraft Hour of Code, innovate with micro:bit, Kodu Game Lab and Build and Code with LEGO Young aspiring innovators can use blocks of code to experience a unique adventure through the Minecraft world, make cool creations on any device with micro:bit, create their own video game with Kodu or embark on a fun-filled adventure into the World of LEGO.
  • IT Workshops such as IT Made Easy: Demystify the Cloud sessions helped participants to learn about how cloud technologies impact the way we work and play, while Play IT Safe sessions provided useful tips and tricks to help consumers better safeguard themselves online in today’s digital world.
  • Enabling Village Discovery Tours brought participants through a guided tour around the venue, designed as a community and a space for people with different abilities. Featuring retail, lifestyle and training for disabled members of the community, the space also incorporated assistive technologies and inclusive design to foster a positive environment for people with different abilities.