June 2015

Year Up Shows Young Adults “What’s Next”

Year Up Shows Young Adults "What's Next"Meet Jessica Aldana. Jessica grew up in Revere, MA. She lived in a bilingual home, attended Revere High School, and worked part time to help support her family. Before graduating high school Jessica, wasn’t set on her next step.

Would she go to college? Would she work full time? That’s when she heard about Year Up.
“I heard about Year Up about two weeks before graduating high school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know what was suitable for me. Until I heard about a student—who one of their family members went through the program. Then I talked to a guidance counselor and she helped me through the process.”

Year Up is a one-year, intensive training program that provides low-income young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, corporate internships, and support. Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide, global initiative to create opportunities for youth, partners with Year Up to introduce tech and empower youth all over the world like Jessica.

There were are few things that instantly attracted Jessica to Year Up.

“One big thing was how you get paid to go to school. I was like WHAT, they PAY YOU to go to school? That’s insane. The other part was how Year Up wanted to help young adults be in a place where you would be able to learn from business corporations and how it works. I was very intrigued about that — I want to learn that!”

For the next year Jessica worked at State Street in their IT department as a Year Up intern. “I liked it [State Street] a lot. I’ve never been in a company like that. It was very interesting to work there and be able to learn that there are different types of technology. I was taught basic things about computers, but never exposed to hardware or software. Everything I learned about technology was through Year Up.”

Since graduating from Year Up in 2014, Jessica has went on to work at the Microsoft Store in the The Shops at Prudential Center as a Product Advisor. “I get to interact with a lot of customers. I introduce them to our newest products that we have now including the Surface device. A lot of people are very curious about how it works. We advise them what is most suitable for them, whether for business or personal use.” She also works part time at Harvard University in their IT department.

“I was actually undecided about whether to work in business or IT. What intrigued me is that there are not a lot of women in IT. I want to go into IT. I want to learn every subject that I can learn about technology. I feel like a lot of women are seen, ‘You’re in tech? How?’ Yes, we’re able to do anything anyone else can do!”

So what’s next for Jessica? “School-wise, once I complete a year with Harvard I’ll be going to their extension program. I’m going to study IT. I feel like my experiences with Year Up and Microsoft are a great kind blessing for me. I can’t believe that I got the chance to work at such great places with great teachers and so much potential to learn.”

“I feel like YU is a great program to be in and if I could recommend it to every 18 and 24 year old I would,” she says. “They give it their all and they’ll make things happen. As long as you put your effort in and show you want to be there and learn, and expand yourself, and put yourself out there — they’ll help you out.”

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

Microsoft New England Picks: 3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Microsoft New England Picks: 3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

With summer in full swing and July hitting the ground running, here are our top picks for events not to miss this week:

OpenNebula TechDay Boston

1) OpenNebula TechDay Boston
Monday, June 29, 9am – 5:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @opennebula

The OpenNebula TechDays are full day events to learn about OpenNebula with a hands-on cloud installation and operation workshop, and presentations from community members and users. These events are targeted at cloud architects, data center admins, systems admins, systems integrators, DevOps architects, and solutions architect. The emphasis is to find local speakers and users to come together and talk about things that they care about most, and to share stories from their experiences using OpenNebula.

2) Net Impact Boston’s 8th Annual Speed Networking Event
Monday, June 29, 6pm – 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @NIBoston #nibevents

You’ll hear from our VIP’s as they share their career stories as well as have the opportunity to learn and network with all of the attendees at the event in a round robin format. The event will promote more in-depth discussions as you can cater the topics of conversation to your interests in this more intimate setting. Attendees can choose which VIP’s spark their interest and elect to have more time to hear these selected VIP’s stories. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to the sustainability world, this event will be a worthwhile and fun experience!

Featured VIPs:

• Ashley Stanley – Founder/Executive Director, Lovin’ Spoonfuls

• Erica Mattison – Legislative Director, Environmental League of Massachusetts

• Elizabeth Turnbull Henry – Sr Manager for Energy and Environment, adidas group

• Tedd Saunders – Green Hotel Pioneer, Saunders Hotel Group

• Graham Sinclair – Principal, SinCo Sustainable Investment Consulting

MassChallenge Presents: 1000 Pirates3) MassChallenge Presents: 1000 Pirates
Wednesday, July 1, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
World Trade Center Pier | 200 Seaport Blvd | Boston
Twitter: @MassChallenge #1000Pirates

MassChallenge has teamed up with the Bay State Cruise Company to bring back the biggest party of the year. For a measly 10 dubloons, one may board the celebratory reunion happening on the Provincetown II, laden with food, drink and music. 1,000 Pirates is a glorious opportunity to meet up with other MassChallenge alumni classes and this year’s finalists. Those who come dressed in their best pirate gear will be awarded prizes.

 

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s MassChallenge Microsoft Scholarship for Civic Innovation!

logo_mc (1)

The Boston area is home to innovative thinkers with an entrepreneurial spirit, and we proudly support their efforts in the community. One of the ways we do so is by directly sponsoring participants in MassChallenge. MassChallenge’s intense training program works to provide startups with the necessary resources to help them succeed, including meeting spaces, mentorship opportunities and more.

Microsoft New England is excited to announce the winners of this year’s Microsoft Scholarship for Civic Innovation: Agora Town Hall, CityTaps, SHRI: Sanitation and Health Rights in India, and Revision Venture.

Although our blog consistently highlights the benefits of “civic tech,” we want to take this opportunity to note the nuances with which these start-ups have addressed problems in civic life. A civic tech start-up does not simply try to solve an urban problem, but rather questions (1) why the problem exists, (2) what the parameters are to solving the problem and (3) how the start-up can integrate itself into the confines of the already existing community. We specifically wanted to find start-ups that helped public officials deliver improved services to private citizens. As a MassChallenge sponsor, we will award $5,000 to eligible startups participating in our scholarship.

Our scholarship recipients:

  1. Agora Town Hall

Agora is changing the way that local residents interact with the city government. Noticing the gap between those who want to participate in town hall meetings, and those who can make the time to attend town hall meetings, Agora created an online town-hall platform. By utilizing the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, Agora hopes to entice more civically minded citizens to take a stand in their community. Furthermore, Agora encourages users to share data pertaining to the improvement of the city on the platform.

  1. CityTaps

CityTaps has created a “smart water metering system” to alleviate a common struggle: certain segments of the population, particularly those with an earning capacity under minimum wage or with an irregular income (approximately 750 million people world-wide), cannot access running water at home. With CityTaps, citizens can prepay for water with any mobile phone. CityTaps’ payment system unites utility companies and consumers through a transparent and trustworthy platform.

  1. SHRI: Sanitation and Health Rights in India

SHRI: Sanitation and Health Rights in India objective is to decrease the incidence of outdoor defecation in rural India. A true civic tech venture, SHRI is an advocate of both health equity and social and economic justice. Currently, SHRI is working in the Supaul district of Bihar and, according to company statistics, over 75% of the area’s 2.2 million residents defecate outside. SHRI seeks to recycle human waste into a usable energy source; this energy will then be used to produce clean drinking water. 

  1. Revision Ventures

Revision Ventures is fostering a partnership between low-income youth with a penchant for digital media, and small income businesses, which need help with their web presence. Working through the existing connections of community organizations, government divisions and business associations, Revision Ventures is creating a new kind of market place to create opportunities in a space where none previously existed.

We are excited to have such a great group of finalists this year and can’t wait to see what is created. Congratulations and best of luck to all the finalists and winners!

Take a look at this year’s MassChallenge finalists here.

Citizen Schools Honors Microsoft Employees for Their Service

Sam Powers and Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi with students Picture2

Here at Microsoft, our team is all about civic engagement. But civic engagement becomes tricky. First of all, not everyone has the access and tools to be able to be engaged. And secondly, how do you teach something like civic engagement?

That’s where our nonprofit partner Citizen Schools comes in. On Thursday afternoons during the school year, there is an exciting energy coming from our conference rooms on the 11th floor at Microsoft. If you walk by these rooms, you will see middle school students building robots, having fun and learning about math all at the same time. Microsoft is proud to partner with Citizen Schools to host Boston Public Schools students for these classes and even prouder to recognize the phenomenal employees that take time out of their busy day to host these classes.  Citizen Schools will honor the Microsoft employees who teach the Citizen School classes: Sam Powers, Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, Brian Conley, and Eric Frackleton.

Citizen Schools’ mission is to close the opportunity gap for low-income students. Americorps educators and “Citizen Teachers” volunteer their time to help ALL students achieve their dreams, and this year, four Microsoft Citizen Teachers were honored as Presidential Service Award Winners! I sat down with Carolyn Roscoe, Director of Civic Engagement at Citizen Schools to learn more about their programs and the Presidential Service Award:

1. What is Citizen Schools? 

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams.

2. What is the Presidential Service Award? 

The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. This award is a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment, encourage a sustained dedication to civic participation and inspire others to make service a central part of their lives. Citizen Teachers who have taught 2, 3, 4 or more apprenticeships over the past four semesters are eligible for bronze, silver and gold levels of this award: gold award winners teach four out of the last four semesters, silver award winners teach three out of the last four semesters, bronze award winners teach two out of the last four semesters. See more at http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/ and Citizen Schools 2014 blog post on PSA winners. 

3. Who from Microsoft is receiving the award and for what kind of activities?

This year, Sam Powers, Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, Brian Conley, and Eric Frackleton are being recognized as Presidential Service Award winners. All three Microsoft employees participate in Citizen Schools apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are semester-long hands-on learning projects led by volunteer experts, called Citizen Teachers. Volunteers help children connect what they learn in school to the real world, and get excited about opportunities for their futures. The apprenticeship culminates in a presentation, where students teach back what they’ve learned. Jean-Yves and Sam Powers have led Robotics Apprenticeships utilizing Lego Robots to teach students programming skills and the powerful potential of technology; students design, build, and program robots to complete simple tasks and race through complex mazes. Brian Conley and Eric Frackleton have taught Game Theory Apprenticeships; through their class, students utilize mathematical techniques – like probability and  mean, median, mode – to win at games of chance.

4. How can people get more involved in Citizen Schools? To learn more about Citizen Schools and how you can help connect students to discover and achieve their dreams, visit www.citizenschools.org/volunteer.

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Microsoft-events-this-week

June is in full swing! Here are our top picks for tech events this week.

6Kgjr9gK1) 2015 MITX Data Summit: “The Art & Science of Data”
Tuesday, June 23, 8am – 5pm

Microsoft Technology Center | 255 Main Street | Cambridge
Twitter: @MITX #MITXData

The MITX Data Summit will explore the ever-changing landscape of the latest data strategies for marketers. How do you balance the art and science of data and creativity? This full-day summit will bring together top minds in the industry to share proven best practices for business success.

Keynote Speakers:

  • John Costello, President, Global Marketing & Innovation, Dunkin Brands, Inc.​
  • Brian Tilzer, Chief Digital Officer, CVS Caremark Corporation

For more information, head to mitx.org.

11391311_1667301020172163_5677147775632088134_n2) SkyLab Boston Open-House
Tuesday, June 23, 6pm – 8pm

@ Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building | 2300 Washington St | Boston
Twitter: @DudleySkyLab

SkyLab Boston will be hosting their first open house on the sixth floor roof deck of the Bruce C. Bolling building in Dudley Square. Stop by and learn more about SkyLab Boston and their plans to promote innovation and entrepreneurship to individuals and local businesses in the Roxbury area.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 5.48.33 PM3) Global Venture Café sponsored by Basis Technology
Thursday, June 25, 3pm – 8pm
@ Venture Cafe | 5th Floor of the CIC | One Broadway | Cambridge
Twitter: @VentureCafe

Thursday’s international-themed Café offers you a chance to think and act globally. Start by reserving your appointments for Office Hours now. Then, in between your meetings on Thursday, mix and mingle in the Café before choosing from the cascade of Feature Events, including TCN UpStart Roundtable in the Cancun conference room in the Café and 3 panels in the Havana conference room outside of the Café. Also, find resources and learn about opportunities to take your startup abroad at Info Tables located inside the Café during the intermission in between panels.

Feature Events:

  • 4:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Foreign Talent — an agent for growth in the American Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem — Potential and Challenges
  • 4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | TCN UpStart Roundtable
  • 5:30 – 6:30 P.M. | International Expansion — When and Where is it Right for You?
  • 6:45 – 7:45 P.M. | Building A Global Brand – Tips from the Experts

For more info on featured events + Info Tables, check out vencafe.org.

RailsBridge-boston4) Railsbridge Boston
Friday, June 26 – Saturday, June 27, 7pm – 9pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @RailsBridgeBos 

RailsBridge Boston is a two-day workshop that teaches Ruby on Rails to women in the Boston community.

Do you dream of someday writing software that helps people and improves the world? Led by an all-volunteer team of seasoned, enthusiastic Ruby and Rails developers, the workshop introduces women of all backgrounds to the concepts, tools, and techniques of Ruby and Rails development. Our audience is those with no or little programming experience.

We welcome you to the Boston Ruby community. Whatever your goal is in learning to program, we hope to connect you with the tools to take the next step.

Applications of Civic Media and Evaluating their Impact, Success and Metrics in Different Fields

CHP8_kEWcAA1k0o

#bostoncivic panel | Photo via @EngageLab

The beauty of civic media is that it can be applied to an amalgamation of different disciplines: government, art, mathematics, etc. However, creating one methodological approach for civic media implementation and measurement is arduous, if not impossible, as each field has its own set of standards.

For example, a civic media arts initiative may not resemble a civic media government initiative. Furthermore, the “arts” and “government” arguably cater to different audiences. Therefore the type of impact and success by each civic media initiative will be inherently unique.

In the “Metrics and Methods” in Civic Media Conference sponsored by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, our speakers grappled with the provocative questions: “Given this proliferation of methods and variety of origin points from which people are approaching this civic media topic, what should the goals of the leaders of this field be? Who is this research for?”

Microsoft is proud to have been a primary sponsor of this event as it encouraged an in depth conversation between academics who focus on media and civics, with professionals specializing in designing, implementing and aiding civic interventions. This specific session contained dedicated speakers, each of whom added a different perspective on metrics, methods and applications.

Catherine D’Ignazio
Art and Civic Media
Catherine D’Ignazio is redefining how participatory art can influence our civic goals. According to D’Ignazio, art can be a research method for activating civic imagination. The project D’Ignazio highlighted was The City Formerly Known as Cambridge which was initiated through the Institute for Infinitely Small Things. In this project D’Ignazio and her team attempted to rectify a problem they identified within the city of Cambridge, MA: many street names and public places had Anglo-Saxon name derivatives. In response to this, her group held created a multifaceted approached in which they researched the origins of the Anglo-Saxon street names, informed the public about these “infinitely small histories” and then held an outdoor convention at which they invited members of the local community to “rename” the spaces. These newly renamed places were then put on a map, and “The City Formerly Known as Cambridge” commenced.

Matthew Battles
Media in the Arts and Humanities

Matthew Battles is re-imagining civic media as a catalyst for understanding the arts and humanities. How can media change the value of the material we produce? Battles’s project focused on history of libraries: he explored the Harvard depository in Western, MA. With the help of colleagues, Battles created a video of the depository to better understand how the storage unit of a library system works. His hope was to contrast the physical representation of a traditional library (i.e. Widener Library in Harvard Yard) and the concept of a temporary holding unit for books (the depository). Battles then expanded on this concept by questioning the “social dimensions” of the library system as well. He challenged the audience to ask: “What does it mean to be an employee at the Harvard depository, but have no interaction with campus life?” To find out more, look at <librarybeyondthebook.org>.

Cold Storage Teaser Trailer from metaLAB(at)Harvard on Vimeo.

Justeen Hyde
Gaming for Change

Introducing a new perspective to the discussion on civic media, Justeen Hyde stressed the importance of utilizing new technology platforms to address issues in health care. Hyde represented the Institute for Community Health, a research and consulting firm that started in the early 2000s in a response to the pervasive problem that hospitals were unaware of the needs of the community they served.

In an attempt to engage more community members in discussions pertaining to health care, the Institute for Community Health partnered with the Community PlanIT. Community PlanIT is a game platform that originated out of Emerson College’s Engagement Lab. In this “simulation,” members of a community can voice their opinions, give feedback on public projects and express substantial concerns about their neighborhood.

Within the version of the game introduced by the Institute for Community Health, players had three weeklong missions. While playing, there were also trivia questions and ways for constituents to gain extra points.

  1. Mission one was about “healthy people”.
  2. Mission two was about “healthy neighborhoods”.
  3. Mission three was about “The City of Boston”.

Overall Justeen considered this initiative to be a success. 488 people played the game and 60% of those who played said that they had not had prior involvement with the Institute for Community Health. Moreover, there were many advantages with data collection from this game simulation: citizens could play/participate at their own convenience and the questions had been specifically constructed to engage the players.

Community PlanIt Primer from Engagement Lab on Vimeo.

Sarah Williams
Open Data In Nairobi, Kenya

Sarah Williams is striving to employ civic media to (1) expose urban patterns and (2) affect policy change. As the acting director of the Civic Design Lab, Williams spearheaded a case study about Matatus in Nairobi, Kenya. Public transportation routes for Matatu were ambiguous: there was little public data pertaining to Matatu stops, routes and operating times. Williams’ group wanted to make a dataset to account for this data-deficiency and utilized the ubiquitous nature of cell phones for data collection.

Through engaging local academics, the Matatu Association and Matatu drivers, and the GTFS technology of cell phones, Willaims’ group created a paper map to show the Matatu routes. Furthermore, her team helped with the creation of Ma3Route, a mobile app that also displays Matatu traffic. One of the biggest successes of the program was when the local government celebrated the initiative of these new Matatu digital maps and certified them as official maps of the city.

Williams argued that the best way to measure success in an open data project is to observe how/if others leverage the data created to generate their own policy changes. Williams noted at the World Bank now uses the Matatu dataset.

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

As part of our initiative in social good, we take pride in our community — by working directly with government, education, and citizens, we are able to use technology to tackle civic issues and make the community better. We take an innovative approach to solving community problems, often blending different groups to merge minds together for a broader field of mind. One of our newest neighborhood partners, innovators4purpose, does this in such a brilliant way and we are pleased to support them in their efforts.

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

innovators4purpose is leading Project Square: a community development effort in Kendall Square, aiming to battle gentrification and discuss how we can make Kendall Square — and the Cambridge area as a whole — better. What makes Project Square different in its approach, though, is its main contributors: students aged eight, nine, and ten years old. The children address the city’s problems from a youth perspective, granting creative solutions to civic problems that we all face on a daily basis.

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

We were able to connect with these driven students in a recent panel entitled “My Neighborhood is Changing: BE Part of the Change!”. Panel members included:

  • David Maher—Mayor of Cambridge
  • Rich Rossi—City Manager of Cambridge
  • Dennis Benzan—JD VicevMayor of Cambridge
  • Christine Elow—Deputy Superintendent Police Dept.
  • Jacquelyn Rose—Cambridge Police Department
  • Rev. Ellis Washington—St. Paul AME Church Cambridge
  • Tom Evans—Exec. Director Cambridge Redevelopment Authority
  • Renae Gray—Community Leader
  • Abe Lateiner—Community Leader
  • John Jackson—EdD Schott Foundation
  • Michelle Lower—Alexandria Real Estate
  • Cathy Wissink—Microsoft
  • Brian Burke—Microsoft
  • Russ Lynos—PhD Novartis
  • Anastacia Berzat—PhD Novartis

In this panel, rather than an adult-led discussion, we let them take the lead: a group of students would approach us with questions, which we would then explore from our “authority” standpoints. It was incredible to see such forward thinking from these students at such a young age. They all have the future of their community in mind, asking questions like:

  • How can we improve the playground at our school?
  • How can I help my mom find a job?
  • What are these buildings being built in our neighborhood?  What goes on inside them?

After this panel, we were thoroughly impressed by how driven and community-centered these students are. We look forward to their final presentations later this month and can’t wait to continue our support on this amazing venture.

Learn more about what innovators4purpose and Project Square is up to on their blog here.

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

Neighborhood Data: How can we use it to our advantage?

Neighborhood Data: How can we use it to our advantage?

Neighborhood data. What do we mean by it? Who’s collecting it? How is it being collected? How is it being used?

Increasingly, our society talks of “data-driven decision making”. In the more quantitative aspects of life, this has the potential to be relatively straightforward. However, cities and other jurisdictions are using data to drive decisions that impact citizens in their neighborhoods. Communities, by virtue of them being a human construct, means that it isn’t simple or appropriate to generalize a neighborhood to a number, set of numbers, or a color on a map. How do we ensure that data-driven decision making in neighborhoods reflects the reality of life in that neighborhood? How do we ensure members of a community have agency when it comes to conclusions being made based on that data?

Last week’s Conversation in Civic Innovation sought to address this issue. In spite of the beautiful weather, we had a strong turnout at NERD to hear four data specialists from the government, startup and urban planning space discuss their work with neighborhood data, comprised of Holly St. Clair, Elsa Sze, Chris Horne, and Greg Lipstein of DrivenData.

We then broke into groups to discuss topics like appropriate data sets, visualization of data, engaging local communities with the data, as well as leveraging private sector data alongside open data.

The evening’s discussion centered around four major questions:

  1. How do we decide which data set to use? Are some data sets more effective, or more appropriate to use, than others?
  2. Is the data set complete? Was there a portion of the population over- / under-represented? How will this skew any initiatives going forward with the community?
  3. What are the best ways to combine data sets for (1) effectiveness, (2) visualization, (3) end results, to be defined by each group?
  4. How do we get people involved in collection process of data? Are we using the right tools to analyze our data?

Each speaker outlined key points once the group reconvened from the break-out sessions.  Elsa Sze, of Agora, for example, stated the importance of data visualization, and how Agora lays out key municipal data in a comprehensive manner. In addition, governments must state a pre-determined level of success prior to analysis. Data should be viewed in a vertical fashion rather than the traditional horizontal view. Elsa proposed creating a central database to share best practices as a possible solution.

Holly St. Clair, of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, provided additional feedback. Holly also stated that change is one of the only constant trends we can rely, especially with ”big data”. She also agreed with Elsa, expressing the need for accessible useful data.

Chris J. Horne’s group emphasized the community’s desire for data to help provide solutions to neighborhood problems. In addition, collection methods should be representative of the entire community, not just a particular subset of the population. To build on Elsa and Holly’s points, they emphasized the importance of creating a sub-culture of effective data collection.

Lastly, the conversation with Greg Lipstein pointed out the lack of resources, stating that we should use all the open data available to us. Their solution was a method using combined public and private data to help the government perform better.

As the facilitator for the evening, a few things stood out to me:

  • The audience was diverse in terms of background, experience and area of interest. Often, when you host an event as a technology company, you often get primarily technologists in the room. As always, there were some of those at our Civic Innovation Conversation, but they were greatly outnumbered by community representatives (including local government), students, and private citizens who wanted to learn more and discuss this topic.
  • There is a strong interest in understanding how individuals can be involved in the data collection, feedback and decision-making process. I got the sense that people wanted to roll up their sleeves and learn by doing. In other words, people were new to this idea of data-driven decision making, but they weren’t going to let their newness to the topic stop them from being fully involved.
  • I was very happy to see the conversations emerge, both in the small groups as well as at the networking event afterwards. As the evening progressed, the lines blurred between the panelists and the participants, since we are all “experts” when it comes to living in our neighborhoods.

And speaking of conversations, we at Microsoft New England, as well as our friends at Venture Café, would like to keep this conversation moving forward. Let us know what’s on your mind when it comes to neighborhoods, innovation and data.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

This past weekend, we took part in the 45th annual Boston Pride Parade. The Parade, held on Saturday, is part of Boston’s annual Pride Week. A record-breaking 25,000 people marched this year, celebrating the Boston area’s LGBTQ community while bringing together organizations, corporations, and individuals in the name of equality.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Microsoft New England had a group of about 25 marchers representing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) marching in this years parade. Throughout the march, which began in Copley Square, wrapped through the South End, and finished at Government Center, our team carried banners urging parade-goers to ‘Do Great Things’ and handed out swag — Microsoft beach balls, whistles, necklaces, chap sticks, and more — in support of the Boston LGBTQ community.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Clippy, the paperclip from Microsoft Word, also joined us as we marched along the route, posing for photos with fans and fellow mascots dressed for the occasion. Along the entire parade route, attendees cheered along with us, for us, AND for Clippy, and showed their support for Microsoft’s ‘This is Me’ campaign, particularly as the parade reached downtown Boston and the audience grew denser.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM   Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM   Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

GLEAM isn’t just present during Pride, though. Year-round, the organization serves to promote workplace diversity and visibility, spreading awareness about the LGBTQ community and promoting LGBTQ-friendly changes in the workplace environment. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to workplace diversity and acceptance, the company was one of the first to offer employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners, and continues to strive for an open, diverse workplace environment that doubles as a safe space for all.

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

Happy Pride Month to all!

Celebrating Pride in Boston with GLEAM

For more pics of GLEAM at the 2015 Boston Pride Parade, head to our Facebook Page.

Learn more about Microsoft’s actions toward workplace diversity with Microsoft GLEAM here.

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Untitled design (6)

June is just getting started! Here are our top picks for events this week!

mitentforumMIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge’s 2015 Startup Spotlight
Monday, June 15: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA 
Twitter: @Mitefcmb | #StartupSpotlight

The Startup Spotlight brings together 400+ innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate business development and business professionals for a unique, interactive and delicious networking event.

The audience will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites in three fun categories:

  • Company I Want to Have a Beer With
  • Most Likely to Develop a Cult Following
  • Future Unicorn

IDF 615Interaction Design Foundation Boston/Wakefield Mash-up Monthly 
Tuesday, June 16: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @Interacting

The IxDF Boston/IxDF Wakefield is a small group that meets on a monthly basis at the New England Research & Development Center. 

The events are focused on getting seasoned and new UX designers together to share thoughts and experiences with designing great user experiences. Meetings take place to network, practice promoting yourself, and do a bit of learning! 

Each new member will be asked a challenging question to bring out the best in them and provide them some conversation pieces when meeting peer members!

biotechBig Data Gets Personal: Transforming Healthcare in the Age of Wearable Tech|
Tuesday, June 16: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA
Twitter: @BioConBoston

From fitness bands to ingestible sensors, sensor tech has the potential to drastically change our daily lives. Well-known consumer technology companies, such as Fitbit and Jawbone help wearers keep track of their daily activity; sensors built into watches by Apple and Samsung can measure heart rate throughout the day; and pioneers in digestible sensors such as Proteus Digital Health are developing systems that can track health with metrics from within the body. Companies such as MC10 are pushing the limits of wearables by developing the Biostamp, a sensor that can measure temperature, movement, heart rate, and more within a device that is the size of two postage stamps. As these devices become more ubiquitous, the “connected human” will not only be able to monitor health metrics about him/herself in real-time, but also be able to share that data with healthcare professionals and other individuals. How will we adapt to this fast-approaching reality and what challenges remain to utilize this technology for improving human health?

scc_logo2_notext_smallComSciCon 2015: The national science communication leadership conference for graduate students
Thursday, June 18 – Saturday, June 20: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
@ Microsoft New England | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge, MA

ComSciCon is the premier workshop on science communication for graduate students in science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) fields nationwide. Attendees convene discuss and develop innovative methods and programs focused on communicating cutting-edge research in STEM fields to broad and diverse audiences, beyond just practicing experts in the field.  Over the three days of the workshop program, attendees engage in interactive panel discussions, writing and peer review workshops, and poster sessions where they share and provide feedback on their experiences and ideas.