WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At its annual Government Leaders Forum – Americas, Microsoft Corp. today strengthened its commitment to creating opportunities for young people in Latin America and the Caribbean in an effort to reduce youth unemployment in the region. The company detailed its participation in the recent launch of a new initiative, New Employment Opportunities (NEO), which aims to train 1 million youth throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region and place at least 50 percent of those youth in jobs during the next 10 years.
Led by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) Multilateral Investment Fund and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), the NEO initiative is supported by a variety of corporate partners. As part of its participation in NEO, over a three-year period, Microsoft is providing $5 million worth of financial, software and in-kind commitments to provide training curriculum, internships, on-the-job training and mentors.
Microsoft is also launching the regional chapter of Innovate4Good@Microsoft, a global community of young people who have benefitted from Microsoft's youth programs. Members of the Latin America chapter will gather for the first time during an event in Mexico City, June 14–15, to identify opportunities to serve in their communities, and build and share innovative solutions that are supported by Microsoft's technology and resources, enabling them to achieve their dreams and envision a better future for themselves.
Nearly one-third of the region's population will be between the ages of 15 and 34 by 2015, yet one in every five youths, ages 15 to 29, is currently neither working nor in school. Furthermore, according to the IYF's recent report, "Opportunity for Action," although the skills that young people need to find decent work and avoid poverty are generally imparted during secondary education, less than half of the secondary school students in the region complete their education.
"Young people across the Latin American and Caribbean region increasingly face an opportunity divide because they lack access to the education, skills or job opportunities they need to succeed in today's world," said Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president. "We are committed to working in partnership with public- and private-sector partners in the region to help bridge this divide and empower young people to imagine and realize a better future for themselves, their family and their communities."
The company has been operating in the region for more than 25 years and supports a number of programs, in addition to NEO, that are focused on creating opportunities for youth through technology, training and experiences that empower them to imagine and realize their full potential and create real impact for a better tomorrow.
- The Microsoft Shape the Future program has helped more than 5 million students in the Latin American region receive digital access over the past two years.
- Partners in Learning, a global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning by helping educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share, has reached 158 million students in Latin America.
- The annual Imagine Cup competition challenges students to address some of the world's toughest challenges with their technology skills. The Imagine Cup Grants program provides teams with the funding and support to transform their projects into businesses or nonprofits. Thirteen teams from the Latin American and Caribbean region will be competing at the worldwide finals in Sydney July 6–10.
- POETA, a partnership between Microsoft and the Organization of American States' not-for-profit affiliate Trust for the Americas, provides technology and job skills training for those with disabilities and at-risk youth. Since inception, the program has reached 680,000 people across 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The Microsoft BizSpark program has helped 24,000 software startups in Latin America and the Caribbean, including those led by young people, by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and helping them market their products and services.
"Sometimes you need a little help to bring your dreams to life and to create a better future. By participating in the Imagine Cup, and with the support I am receiving from the Microsoft BizSpark program, I am able make my dream of owning my own business and selling our SkillBox solution to schools around Ecuador a reality," said Henry Javier Paca Quinaluiza of Team Falcon Dev, one of four 2011 Imagine Cup Grant recipients. The team's SkillBox solution helps children who are hearing impaired by translating audio received from a teacher in a classroom into sign language.
In the coming months, Microsoft will announce additional programs and commitments designed to create opportunities for youths throughout the Latin America and Caribbean region. More information about Microsoft's commitment to helping create opportunity for youths can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/citizenship.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.