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Microsoft awards $700,000 in software grants to youth organizations
Published Thursday, August 28, 2014
by Latisha Catchatoorian

DURHAM – Microsoft shelled out almost a million dollars in grants to four local organizations last week. Each one supports education and youth programs.

As part of its retail store grand opening at The Streets at Southpoint mall, Microsoft awarded the Daniel Center, the YMCA of the Triangle, Marbles Kids Museum and the Emily K Center a collective $700,000 in technology grants. The YMCA took home $500,000; Emily K and the Daniel Center $50,000 each; and Marbles Kids $100,000.

“The people in Durham are looking for what we offer here. This is a great technology hub; it’s a great hub with the universities,” said Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft’s general manger of communications strategy. “When we open a store, we are not just opening a store to do transactions. We’re opening a store to become part of the fabric of that community and that’s no different than here in Raleigh-Durham.”

The four organizations where chosen through a “really extensive process.” Adashek said Microsoft carefully considers those that embody education, youth and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math.)

“Community giving and the whole concept of giving is at the fundamental of Microsoft’s being, it’s something that we do around the world,” he said. “We talk to our local team. It’s easy for me, sitting in Redmond (Washington) to say, ‘Pick this one, this one, (and) this one.’ But we talk to our local team and talk to them about what’s important to the local community.”

Robert Helm, the Southpoint Microsoft store manager, said he asked the store’s community engagement specialist to find worthy organizations. He said most of the money will be used to update the organizations’ software.

“We want to be able to make a large impact and that’s how we determined that (they) would be the ones to get that (grant),” Helm said. “Technology plays a huge role in the future for us. When we look at productivity and doing more and achieving more, we really look at the office products that we have and how it allows us to do that.”

Adam Eigenrauch, executive director of the Emily K Center, said the center’s “K-to-college students are actively using technology daily.” The financial support will enhance their ability to help students connect to learning opportunities and go to college.

“We were thrilled to hear that we'd be supported by Microsoft. Nonprofit organizations like ours depend on a broad base of support to be successful, and this partnership with Microsoft is representative of what it takes for nonprofits to succeed long term,” he said. “It's a great demonstration of community commitment from Microsoft as they grow their presence in the Triangle area.”

Diedre King, a group leader at the Daniel Center, helps teach math and science to ages 5-12 years old. She said they were all “shouting for joy and happy” when they heard they’d be one of Microsoft’s grant recipients. The money will be used for kids who can’t afford the center and will also be put towards educational field trips.

Jennifer Nelson, associate vice president of marketing and communications for the YMCA of the Triangle, said the grant will support the work they do in their infrastructure and will allow them to focus on the work they do in the community with children. The YMCA regionally serves 80,000 kids in the area.

“If you notice, the four recipients are all related to youth programs in this community,” she said. “One of our biggest emphasis is on bridging the education gap and we do rely on technology to support those kids throughout the region, so this is really exciting because we can upgrade our software systems in our business office so we can focus on the kids who need it most.”



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