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Microsoft youth scheme expected to empower 300m

Charity initiative aimed at creating opportunities for the young

We are making a commitment to help 300m young people around the world: Ballmer.
We are making a commitment to help 300m young people around the world: Ballmer.

Microsoft Corp today announced a new global initiative, Microsoft YouthSpark, that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people in more than 100 countries over the next three years.

The company-wide scheme includes Citizenship and other company programs that connect the younger generation with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Through Microsoft YouthSpark, the company will dedicate the majority of its cash contributions to nonprofits that serve the youth population around the world.  In addition, Microsoft YouthSpark will promote Office365 for EDU, free technology tools for all teachers and students to power learning and collaboration, and Skype in the Classroom, a free global community for teachers to connect their students with others around the world.

As part of the initiative, Microsoft is also launching a range of new Citizenship programs:

 - Give for Youth , a global micro-giving marketplace focused specifically on raising funds for nonprofits that support youth causes around the world;

 - Microsoft YouthSpark Hub, an online space where people can explore and access all of the youth services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and its nonprofits partners;

 - Microsoft Innovate for Good, a global online community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities.



Launching the new initiative, Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer, Microsoft said, "Through Microsoft YouthSpark we are making a commitment to help 300 million young people around the world achieve their dreams by focusing our Citizenship efforts and other company resources on connecting young people with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.  We believe that working with our partners we can help empower young people to change their world, and we are committed to doing just that."

The company's youth-focused project will be conducted in close collaboration with nonprofits around the world.  These include worldwide organisations, such as GlobalGiving, TakingITGlobal, Telecentre.org Foundation, and the International Youth Foundation, as well as regional nonprofits, such as Silatech in the Middle East, The Trust for Americas in Latin America, AIESEC in Europe, and the Asean Foundation in Asia.  

"Our next generation of Citizenship needs to focus on the next generation of people," said Brad Smith, executive vice president, Microsoft.  "The global unemployment rate for workers under age 25 is 12.7%, which is double the rate for the world as a whole. This is indicative of a growing opportunity divide between young people who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.  We must work together to close the opportunity divide for youth and help secure the future of this generation and the future of our global economy."

The International Youth Foundation Opportunity for Action report, published in March 2012, showed that nearly 75m young people worldwide were unemployed in 2011. As the global youth population continues to grow - there are over 2.2bn people between the ages of 6 and 24 today - the opportunity divide is widening. The International Labour Organisation's latest statistics indicate that the global youth unemployment rate is projected to increase to 12.9% by 2017.