SOUTHFIELD — Microsoft Corp. Thursday announced Microsoft YouthSpark, a new initiative to create opportunities for more than 75 million youth across the United States and Canada over the next three years.

This initiative are already happening in Detroit.  Microsoft is working with Focus: HOPE where Bryan Robinson became a Microsoft Certified Professional and gained the skills necessary to find a great job at Ford.

Globally, YouthSpark aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries. This companywide initiative includes citizenship and other company programs — both new and enhanced — that empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater 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 include Office 365 for education, 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 microgiving marketplace focused 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 the youth services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and its nonprofit partners.
* Microsoft Innovate for Good, a global online community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support one another while using technology to make a difference in their communities.

The company’s youth-focused philanthropy will be conducted in close collaboration with nonprofits around the world. These include worldwide organizations such as GlobalGiving Foundation, 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 International in Europe, and the ASEAN Foundation in Asia. In the United States, Microsoft is announcing its support of five national nonprofits: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement USA, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Year Up Inc.

The International Youth Foundation Opportunity for Action report, published in March 2012, showed that nearly 75 million young people worldwide were unemployed in 2011. As the global youth population continues to grow — there are more than 2.2 billion people between the ages of 6 and 24 today — the opportunity divide is widening.

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