Late last week, Microsoft announced the launch of YouthSpark, a new worldwide program that seeks to close the “opportunity gap” that is disenfranchising young people across the world. The program is an important first step in solving the rampant unemployment issues that have left young people jaded and discouraged in both the developed and developing world.
The lack of job opportunities are one reason the Arab Spring has flared up across the Middle East. Meanwhile, the dearth of job skills stifles business growth in Latin American nations. And the lack of jobs for high school and college grads in the U.S. has been one of the worst outcomes of the recent global financial crises.
To that end, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, announced the company’s most ambitious philanthropy initiative in its 37 years of existence. At a cost of $500 million spread over the next three years, the program’s goal is to provide training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to as many 300 million youths in 100 nations. Children as young as six up to young adults in the mid-twenties, according to the company, will benefit from Microsoft’s partnership with over hundreds of NGOs and non-profits across the globe.