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Microsoft Ignites Education Initiatives with Launch of YouthSpark Chicago

Microsoft officially launched its YouthSpark initiative in Chicago at the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago. As part of the launch, Microsoft hosted a panel discussion on the youth opportunity divide with education, government, & non-profit leaders from around Chicago. The panel line-up included:
•Beth Swanson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education, Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago
•Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Brookings Institution
•Donald J. Laackman, President of Harold Washington College
•Lisa Morrison Butler, Executive Director, City Year of Chicago
•Andrew Ko, Senior Director of US Education, Microsoft

The panel was moderated by Valerie Lies, President and CEO of Chicago-based Donors Forum.

The Brookings Institution shares new research on the state of youth education and opportunity in the Chicago area. A snapshot of the findings show that Chicago area youth are facing a “success gap:” only 32 percent of Chicago area adults possess a bachelor’s degree and a mere 22 percent of students ages 16 to 24 year have no more than a high school diploma. In sharp contrast, many open jobs remain unfilled because employers cannot find skilled workers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

With the research in mind, the panelists shared new ideas and solutions to address the unique challenges facing Chicago area youths. Microsoft also highlighted the YouthSpark initiative, a three year commitment to help create 50 million opportunities for young people in the U.S., including the Greater Chicago area. However, Microsoft is no stranger to Chicago or Illinois. Since 2003, the company and its employees have given more than $80 million in cash, curriculum, software, and volunteer hours to non-profits in Illinois. Most recently in November, Microsoft donated software and services to equip new Parent Engagement Centers in 12 Chicago Public Schools with new technology.

For more information on YouthSpark Read More

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