Microsoft Canada announces 2015 YouthSpark Grants at Ottawa youth networking event

Event brings US award-winning author Miki Agrawal to Ottawa to discuss entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment

Microsoft Canada today announced Shad Valley, Pathways to Education, Kids Learning Code and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada as the recipients of their 2015 YouthSpark grants. The announcement was made at YouthSpark: Inspire the Future, an event connecting Ottawa-area youth with local developers and business leaders. Microsoft is hosting the event to inspire youth to use entrepreneurship and technology to solve some of society’s greatest challenges.

YouthSpark grant recipients will use the grants to help support youth development in science and technology. The grants and the Ottawa event are part of Microsoft’s global commitment to empowering young people with opportunities for entrepreneurship, education, employment and skills development.

“Youth unemployment and under-employment is a significant societal challenge and we believe that entrepreneurship is one of the keys to addressing the problem,” says Michael Hilliard, Senior Corporate Counsel, Microsoft Canada. “At Microsoft Canada, we are committed to using technology to help youth imagine and realize their full potential; events like YouthSpark: Inspire the Future help us accomplish that.”

The event will kick-off with a keynote address from social entrepreneur and best-selling author Miki Agrawal. Agrawal developed a line of absorbent underwear for women called Thinx. The company matches sales with a donation of reusable menstrual pads to women in developing countries.

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“I believe that entrepreneurship allows young people to take control of their career destiny,” said Agrawal. “Technology makes it possible for anyone to turn a great idea into a successful business, which is why events like YouthSpark: Inspire the Future are critical; they give students the tools they need to follow their passion.”

Along with YouthSpark: Inspire the Future, Microsoft also recently hosted 100 students at YouthSpark Live, at their headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario and participated in the Canada Wide Science Fair, where they presented Kobo founder Mike Serbinis with the Microsoft Canada Alumni Award. In the fall, Microsoft launched Office 365 for Non-Profits, which gives eligible non-profits access to leading productivity software at a discounted rate. They also announced the Child Life Interactive Computers for Kids (CLICK) program benefiting patients at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), in connection with the Children’s Miracle Network.

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