Microsoft commits to expanding philanthropy work

Brad Smith

Microsoft is seeking to boost its humanitarian work around the world, beginning by creating a new organization, Microsoft Philanthropies. Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote about the new arm of Microsoft, pointing to CEO Satya Nadella and his mission for the company as the driving force behind the project.

"Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." - Microsoft mission statement

Using technology to benefit the world appears to be the initial focus for Microsoft Philanthropies. Despite it's proliferation across the globe, Smith listed several barriers to technology that Microsoft hopes to tackle (emphasis added):

  • Poverty limits access to the very tools that can empower people to create a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
  • A lack of education – especially in STEM disciplines – limits the ability of people to participate in the opportunities created by the growth of the global economy.
  • Accessibility remains a key challenge, with too many people with disabilities encountering barriers to using essential new technologies.
  • People in remote or displaced communities often confront great challenges accessing technology and information when they need it most.

Smith was unequivocal about the need for Microsoft Philanthropies, saying the organization "must" work toward its ambitions to meet the company's mission. He has appointed corporate vice president Mary Snapp to head Microsoft Philanthropies, with the team to expand in the coming months.

New, specific projects were unfortunately not part of the announcement. Instead, it appears previously announced charitable causes will fall under the Microsoft Philanthropies banner. This includes a commitment of $75 million towards youth computer science education over the next three years. Details for that project will be announced early next year.

Projects such as the Eye Gaze solution and Microsoft's Affordable Access Initiative were given as examples of the types of efforts Microsoft Philanthropies will undertake in the future.

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