Join us on April 23 for Microsoft’s YouthSpark in Schools program on digital opportunity in education

| Shelley Stern Grach

One of the most important things technology leaders can do is extend the skills and opportunities of the digital economy to everyone in society — especially students. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is partnering with Microsoft for a special day-long YouthSpark in Schools event on Thursday, April 23, that will explore ways to improve educational opportunity for 21st-century students. Educators, school and district administrators, and youth development professionals are invited to join me and other speakers from Microsoft, CPS, and local organizations for a day of dynamic learning. We’ll end the day with a tour of the Chicago Microsoft Technology Center, where we’ll get to experience technology innovations firsthand.


As mentioned, CPS is a key partner for the day’s activities. Shawn L. Jackson, Deputy Chief for Teaching and Learning, CPS, will welcome attendees. Furthermore, the lunch session will feature a panel discussion exploring how to foster educational equity in an unequal world, featuring invited guests along with two presenters from the Chicago Public Schools:

In addition, a highlight of the morning will be a keynote speech by Connie Yowell, director of education for the MacArthur Foundation. Yowell has a lot to offer on the subject of digital learning, as part of her work involves overseeing a $150 million program on Digital Media and Learning, one of the first philanthropic efforts in the country to systematically explore the impact of digital media on young people and implications for the future of education. She also has experience with teaching, research, and public policy, so we’re looking forward to her perspectives how to extend 21st-century skills and opportunities to all students.

Other speakers at the event include:

  • Bonnie Kang, Dean of Information Technology, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Cameron Evans, Chief Technology Officer for U.S. Education, Microsoft
  • Kelly Sundberg, Academic Account Manager, Microsoft
  • Phyllis Lockett, CEO, LEAP Innovations, a Chicago-based education technology hub
  • Raamel Mitchell, Director, Microsoft Citizenship and Public Affairs, Central Region

Register now to secure your seat for the program.

Microsoft YouthSpark is a company-wide, global initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth through more than 30 programs and partnerships with more than 350 youth-serving nonprofits. Within its first two years, YouthSpark has created new opportunities for more than 227 million young people in over 100 countries around the world. Although there is much still to do, we’re inspired by what we’ve seen: young people taking the lead in changing not only their lives but the lives of other around them, making a real impact in their local communities and on the global stage. You can learn more by visiting

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

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Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.