The Importance of Partnership in Education

Posted by Brad Smith
SVP and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

In today’s Seattle Times, I wrote an op-ed calling upon Washington state to take new steps to improve education.   While much of this responsibility falls on legislators and educators, it’s also important for businesses to play a role in supporting positive educational reforms.  So, I’d like to describe what we are doing, at Microsoft, to support education at local, national and global levels.  

  • Microsoft recently committed $1 million to support early learning in the Seattle area, through a new Parent-Child Home Program being launched by the United Way.
  • In addition, we have spent $3 million to sponsor the multi-year Microsoft Math Partnership, which has helped eight Washington school districts improve their success rates in middle school math, thus helping students during this formative stage of their education.  We also support a number of local programs that encourage the pursuit of math and science, including MATHCOUNTS, MESA and FIRST Robotics Competitions, which add fun and excitement to learning.
  • We’re now working here in Washington to help launch the development of the new Washington STEM Center, which is designed to improve instruction and learning in science, technology, engineering and math – all critical fields for success in today’s economy.
  • We’re supporting higher education through a variety of initiatives.  I’m currently spending time chairing a task force for Governor Gregoire that is focused on new steps to strengthen the financial foundation and accountability for Washington State’s public four-year universities.
  • Our commitment to education extends beyond the traditional K-12 and university system to lifelong learning. As an example, in the U.S. we created Elevate America, a technology training program for people seeking to enhance their skills for the 21st century economy.
  • As a global company, Microsoft’s commitment to education knows no borders.  Microsoft Partners in Learning is a $500million, 10-year commitment we have undertaken to help schools around the world gain better access to technology and to foster creative approaches to instruction and teacher training. 
  • The potential and promise of a  strong  education is captured by the Imagine Cup, a global technology competition – now in its eighth year – that challenges students 16 years and older to use technology to solve the world’s toughest problems.  Next year’s US finals will take place right here in the Seattle area, where outstanding students will compete from across the country to win a spot in the worldwide event.

These are many more programs I could describe, and they range in size, scope and geography.  But, they all have two things in common:  a focus on applying new, fresh thinking to long-standing challenges and a partnership approach of collaborating with educators, government leaders, and civic groups.  We have found that, together, fresh thinking and partnership make a winning combination…for our schools, our communities, and most importantly, our kids.

For more information about Microsoft in education visit

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